Our study inquired about the information literacy experiences of teachers in four rural Alaskan communities. These teachers had a built-in information literacy component to several classes in their masters program taught by me and Thomas. To give you an idea of the context, I brought some maps…
Distance class to teachers throughout the state, assignment is a robust literature review “metasynthesis” study.
The size of Alaska when superimposed over Europe gives a sense for the vastness of the state. And we do not have roads and railroads to get from one place to another. We have a diversity of cultures within our one state which I think is easily overlooked if you do not know about it. In fact it was something that I didn’t think about much before I started this study and then this presentation to you.
Alaska is one-fifth the size of the contiguous United States and contains 586,412 square miles (or 1,518,800.11 square kilometers ) and Alaska has 6,640 miles (or 10 686.0442 kilometers) of coastline (longer than that of all of the rest of the lower 48 states)
The linguistic and cultural diversity in Alaska is significant. The teachers we interviewed lived in Tlingit, Yupik, and Inupiat Native Alaskan communities.
Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen method – we highlighted every statement that
We conducted interviews with teachers in Angoon, Goodnews Bay, Kotlik, and Kobuk. These are all communities that are not connected by road to other communities in Alaska – why we call them “bush” communities – they are remote and rural. We reside in Juneau, the capital with over 30,000 people but we also must take an airplane or ferry boat to get out of Juneau.
Tlingit Southeast Alaska Tlingit Community Population 44255 miles (89 kilometers) southwest of JuneauCommercial fishing, subsistence lifestyleVisiting healthcare professionals School library – no librarian
Goodnews Bay is located in a transitional climatic zone, exhibiting characteristics of both a marine and continental climate. Average annual precipitation is 22 inches, with 43 inches of snowfall. Summer temperatures range from 41 to 57 °F; winter temperatures average 6 to 24 °F. Yup’ik Eskimo Community (first language Yupik)Population 237Climate summer (41-57F = 5-14C) winter (6-24F = 14- -4C)93.9% NativeNo piped sewage systemBarges bring goods in summer monthsNearest community for healthcare / emergency is Dillingham
Yupik Eskimo village practicing a fishing, trapping, and subsistence lifestylePopulation 618165 air miles (266 kilometers) NW of BethelPiped water and sewer to most householdsAccessible by airplane, bargeNorton Sound ice-free mid-June thru Octobere climate of Kotlik is subarctic. Temperatures range between -50 and 87 °F. Annually, there is an average of 60 inches of snowfall and a total of 16 inches of precipitation. High winds and poor visibility are common during fall and winter. Norton Sound and the Yukon are ice-free from mid-June through October.
Treatment of sicknesses – someone with a high school diploma health aid will call in symptoms to a doctor in the hub community to learn how to treat them-10 to 15 °F Summer 40 to 65 °F during summer. Inupiat Eskimo village on Kobuk River 128 air miles (206 kilometers) northeast of Kotzebue Population 122, smallest village in NW Burough winter: -10 to 15dF = -23 to -9dC Subsistence economy Major means of transportation are plane, small boat, snowmachine, and dogsled
Turnover – means they only stay for a year or two – less consistency with teachers in the bush where the kids really need a chance.
Teaching professionals in remote and rural places need access to electronic resources to counteract isolation, to feel connected to other (special) educators, and to continue to develop professionally. In response to a question about conducting sophisticated advanced Boolean searches in education and social sciences databases…
As they learned to search for, evaluate, and synthesize information in a more systematic and strategic manner, our students (the teachers) developed greater confidence in themselves and in their own teaching and research abilities.
One special educator, who teaches Yup’ik Eskimo children in western Alaska noted that many textbooks exclude – or misrepresent – the contributions of American Indian and Alaska Native peoples. She wants to teach her Yup’ik students to critically evaluate their textbooks and other curricular materials. She stated:
These are unique (Native Alaskan) students with special needs – they have disabilities. These teachers can’t be a specialist in all learning disabilities, they need to be information literate in order to find out about disability conditions in each case to treat them
All schools have Internet access but many homes do not (statistics?) Access is satellite (not fiber). School receiving federal funds have filters.TACK!
Rural Voices Presentation
Information Literacy in Remote Indigenous Alaska: <br />Teachers’ Rural Voices<br />Jennifer Ward <br />Outreach Services Librarian, <br />Associate Professor of Library Science<br />William A. Egan Library<br />University of Alaska Southeast, Juneau, Alaska, United States<br />Thomas Duke<br />Associate Professor of Education<br />School of Education<br />University of Alaska Southeast, Juneau, Alaska, United States<br />
Alaska, United States<br />Context– four communities in remote “bush” Alaska<br />Community – four teachers in masters in special education program<br />Culture – multiple/complex (Anglo-European, Mexican, Tlingit, Yupik, Athabascan, Inupiat Alaska Natives)<br />
The Study<br /><ul><li>What role does information literacy play in the lives of teachers who live and work in geographically isolated and sparsely populated rural communities?
How do special education teachers and their students in remote communities of Alaska benefit from distance-delivered information literacy instruction?</li></li></ul><li>
Linguistic and Cultural <br />Diversity in Alaska<br />
Study Methods<br />Interviews: Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing <br />(2nd ed.) <br />SteinarKvale and SvendBrinkmann – University of Aarhus, Sage, 2009<br />
Results<br />Four Themes Emerged:<br />Rural issues and needs<br />Distance education & information literacy instruction<br />Development as a learner and researcher<br />Application of information literacy and research skills<br />
Kobuk, Alaska<br />Population 122<br />Population of sled dogs >122<br />93.6% AK Native <br />Iñupiat Eskimo village on Kobuk River<br />128 air miles (206 kilometers) NE of Kotzebue <br />P-12 school / 35 students<br />
Rural Voices<br />“… As a teacher in a remote place, I need the Internet, e-mail, and interlibrary loan services”<br />
Rural Voices<br />“Turnover is a huge problem in rural communities. I think teachers would be less likely to get burnt-out and leave if they felt connected to something larger than themselves.” <br />
Rural Voices<br /> [learning advanced research skills]<br />“…opened up a world of educational discourse on disability that I wouldn't otherwise be able to access in a remote, rural community.” <br />
Rural Voices<br />“continuing to educate myself keeps me connected to the inter-national literature… and … makes me excited to teach.”<br />
Rural Voices<br />“Before I learned to refine the searches, my searches were too broad. I would get frustrated and quit.” <br />
Rural Voices<br />“I’m inspired now to teach my students to be their own filters of information rather than allow others to filter it for them.” <br />
Conclusions<br />If the teachers in Alaska’s rural schools are not information literate – then who will be?<br />Children in rural and remote Alaska need skilled information literate advocates in order to best serve their unique and special needs.<br />Distance education is essential to reach adults in rural communities though there are technological difficulties to overcome<br />
Conclusions<br /><ul><li>Participantshighly valued library services and gained a skill set they were not fully aware of before we taught them.
Librarians must be aware of the issues specific to our bush community consumers and follow up with resources after they leave the university.
Awareness of library services is not enough, in order for teachers to transfer these skills to their students they need instruction on how to use library resources.</li></ul>Conclusions<br />
How the Findings Impacted Our Practices<br />Deeper awareness and understanding of the challenges and the commitment required of teachers in rural, remote, indigenous Alaskan communities<br />We created follow-up professional development materials for teachers (explicit directions on how to access library resources and services post-graduation)<br />Identified the need to further study and coordinate the delivery of library services and information literacy instruction to rural students<br />