Hmm, I’m Not Sure What To Make Of This

I am one of the people who was eagerly awaiting Nicole Engard’s promised What I Learned in Library School post. I read it fairly soon after it was published and have been thinking about it since. The post evokes several emotions in me. On one hand, I feel better about things at SCSU because the issues and problems I have experienced echo those that Nicole Engard seems to have experienced. On the other hand, this is incredibly disheartening. This means that these types of problems are more pervasive than I believed – especially in the distance education arena.

Engard’s summary of what she learned isn’t positive. She writes:

What did I Learn

I learned that I don’t ever want to do a degree online again ;)I learned a bit more about myself and time-management. I learned that having an MLIS does not make you better off than the person who doesn’t have the MLIS, but has 6+ years of experience in a library.

I don’t feel much different than I did before I went to school. My job has changed and so I’ve learned more about other areas of the library that way – but the classes on research theory, searching, statistics, management, systems, digital libraries and so on didn’t prepare me any more than jumping in and doing the job myself would have.

Wow! I feel as if I could have written the same things myself. I absolutely LOVE the convenience of online classes. However, I have slowly come to realize that I am unwilling to put up with the difficulties and problems that exist in distance education. I do not want to ever do another online program if student services and programs are not improved exponentially. Engard also makes an important point about the value of the MLS/MLIS versus work experience. The roughly 15 years that I have spent working in a library are what has helped me get to the place that I am today – and they are much more important to my overall development than what I have learned in library school.

I do feel as if I must add that I have had some excellent experiences during my program. I’ve had some wonderful classes where I feel that I did in fact learn useful things. I have had wonderful classes where I believe that the material being taught was important, but was information that I already knew and understood. And, yes, I have had some of the most miserable classroom experiences of my life. I’m still too involved in my program to be able to make generalizations about how useful the entire program will be to me. I’m enjoying my class this semester – and have high hopes for my class next semester (ILS680-Evaluation and Research). We shall see!

Anyway, a big thank you to Nicole Engard for her post. It has given me much to ponder.

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12 Responses to Hmm, I’m Not Sure What To Make Of This

  1. […] came across this post – Hmm, I’m Not Sure What To Make Of This – and thought it was worth sharing. I hope you find it interesting too and take the time to read […]

  2. sharon says:

    Boy, the fact that someone who went to a classy school like Drexel had many of the same complaints that we do… it’s pretty disheartening.

  3. Robbi says:

    As a current DE student in an MIS program, I always read your blog with interest as we are at the same milepost in our programs. I have to say that a lot of Nicole Engard’s post applies to MLIS programs in general, not the DE segment. Long live the ongoing debate about the necessity of the ALA accredited degree. Most people I know say that their experience in the library work environment is much more valuable than anything learned in a classroom; however, that hoop has been placed in a particular spot so that we can all jump through it if we want to advance within professional library positions.

    With regards to the online degree experience: we have to realize that we are pioneers. I started this degree in a classroom, but changed to a DE program due to a job transfer. I can honestly say that I am have a much closer bond with my fellow DE classmates than I did with my in-person classmates mostly due to having to figure out things on our own. Our administration and instructors are new at this and have to figure out things along the way too (although in academia the wheels turn slowly.) The reality for me is that I could not have worked on this degree if a DE program was not available to me. Has it been smooth sailing? No, but on-campus classes have problems too.

    I think that we have to tease apart the two components of complaint to see what pertains to MLIS programs as a whole vs. what pertains to DE offerings.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Sharon, I definitely agree!!!! Very disheartening!

    Robbi, thanks for your comment. I appreciate your comments about how such things also apply to MLS/MLIS programs in general. I also agree that problems with MLS programs and problems with DE programs need to be addressed separately. I only have experience with a distance MLS program – so that is all I can speak to.

    I like your point about the newness of DE programs. I fully expected there to be problems when I decided to go the online route. Honestly, I want to talk about, to discuss the problems, the sucessess, the issues, etc. with DE. I think that DE students are the ones that understand what works well and what doesn’t. My biggest gripe is that I have tried to open the avenues of discussion – and most people with whom I have dealt are not ready to have this discussion. That, I find distressing.

  5. […] Jennifer wrote a fantastic post today on “Hmm, Iâm Not Sure What To Make Of This”Here’s ONLY a quick extractI absolutely LOVE the convenience of online classes. However, I have slowly come to realize that I am unwilling to put up with the difficulties and problems that exist in distance education. I do not want to ever do another online … […]

  6. Nicole says:

    Sharon – It’s funny that you say that. Why do we all (me included) think that Drexel is so classy? Is it because of the price tag? Or it’s reputation with engineering students? I don’t know – but either their standards have dropped or their library program is just lacking.

  7. […] came across this post – Hmm, I’m Not Sure What To Make Of This – and thought it was worth sharing. I hope you find it interesting too and take the time to read […]

  8. […] read with interest Nicole and Jennifer’s thoughts about library school. I’m a little less than halfway through my program, so […]

  9. […] through a part-time MLIS Posted on October 17, 2007 by John There has been some recent conversation about the downs and ups of library school. I am exactly halfway through library school, today. This […]

  10. Michael Sutherland says:

    For those interested, please check out the response I made on Nicole Engard’s blog at http://www.web2learning.net/archives/1267#comment-63777. Students should carefully consider the library school they attend, keeping in mind what they want to get out of it how that can be fulfilled. I seriously hope that negative comments about what someone did or did not get from a program do not discourage individuals from library school. It is also short-sighted to think that a experience with one school is indicative of other programs or library school curriculum accross the country. Prospective students should investigate programs as an employer interviews a potential employee – do a little digging, find out the research interests of the faculty, look at their publications and find out if they are keeping up on their research. An employer will not hire a candidate that is not a good fit and students should not settle for programs that are inadequate for their needs.

  11. […] Need To Write More On This There has been much discussion about library schoolof late – with some great comments on each of these posts. I need to comment more – […]

  12. […] has been some recent conversation about the downs and ups of library school. I am exactly halfway through library school, today. This […]

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