Information Literacy in Remote Indigenous Alaska: Teachers’ Rural Voices Jennifer Ward Outreach Services Librarian, Associate Professor of Library Science William A. Egan Library University of Alaska Southeast, Juneau, Alaska, United States Thomas Duke Associate Professor of Education School of Education University of Alaska Southeast, Juneau, Alaska, United States
Alaska, United States Context– four communities in remote “bush” Alaska Community – four teachers in masters in special education program Culture – multiple/complex (Anglo-European, Mexican, Tlingit, Yupik, Athabascan, Inupiat Alaska Natives)
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?
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in Alaska
Study Methods Interviews: Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing (2nd ed.) SteinarKvale and SvendBrinkmann – University of Aarhus, Sage, 2009
Results Four Themes Emerged: Rural issues and needs Distance education & information literacy instruction Development as a learner and researcher Application of information literacy and research skills
Angoon, Alaska Population 442 86.4% AK Native (mainly Tlingit) 55 miles (89 kilometers) SW of Juneau K-12 school / 91 students
Goodnews Bay, Alaska Population 237 93.9% AK Native (Yup’ik Eskimo) 110 air miles (177 kilometers) NW of Dillingham K-12 School / 54 students
Goodnews Bay, Alaska
Goodnews Bay, Alaska
Goodnews Bay, Alaska
Kotlik, Alaska Population 591 96.1% AK Native (Yup’ik Eskimo) 165 air miles (266 kilometers) NW of Bethel P-12 school / 177 students
Kotlik, Alaska http://kot.loweryukon.org/Gallery/
Kobuk, Alaska Population 122 Population of sled dogs >122 93.6% AK Native Iñupiat Eskimo village on Kobuk River 128 air miles (206 kilometers) NE of Kotzebue P-12 school / 35 students
an Iñupiat village classroom in Alaska
Rural Voices “… As a teacher in a remote place, I need the Internet, e-mail, and interlibrary loan services”
Rural Voices “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.”
Rural Voices [learning advanced research skills] “…opened up a world of educational discourse on disability that I wouldn't otherwise be able to access in a remote, rural community.”
Rural Voices “continuing to educate myself keeps me connected to the inter-national literature… and … makes me excited to teach.”
Rural Voices “Before I learned to refine the searches, my searches were too broad. I would get frustrated and quit.”
Rural Voices “I feel empowered to educate myself.”
Rural Voices “I’m inspired now to teach my students to be their own filters of information rather than allow others to filter it for them.”
Conclusions If the teachers in Alaska’s rural schools are not information literate – then who will be? Children in rural and remote Alaska need skilled information literate advocates in order to best serve their unique and special needs. Distance education is essential to reach adults in rural communities though there are technological difficulties to overcome
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.
How the Findings Impacted Our Practices Deeper awareness and understanding of the challenges and the commitment required of teachers in rural, remote, indigenous Alaskan communities We created follow-up professional development materials for teachers (explicit directions on how to access library resources and services post-graduation) Identified the need to further study and coordinate the delivery of library services and information literacy instruction to rural students