Thursday, 30 April 2009

Report of the Digital Britain Media Literacy Working Group

Digital Britain- the interim report was published in late January 2009 and aimed to show how this country would be at the forefront of the digital ecomomy. They recognised that
"if we are to maximise the digital opportunity, we will need to ensure a population that is confident and empowered to access, use and create digital media," and " we will ask Ofcom to make an assessment of its current responsibilities in relation to media literacy and, working with the BBC and others, to recommend a new definition and ambition for a National Media Literacy Plan. "
Ofcom therefore formed a Working Group (government depts., BBC, industry, education and Third Sector) and they have produced this Report (27 March 2009).

Why am I posting about this report? After all it's not my usual sort of post (most are short!)

First because my attention was drawn to it by Ruth Stubbings at University of Loughborough, second because it highlights the connection between media and information literacy and third because librarians will be involved in the process outlined in the report- but how best?

Government investment in digital infrastructures and broadband must be mirrored by media literacy provision. The report is useful for its definitions of media literacy :

"There is no single, agreed definition of media literacy. Media literacy is an umbrella term covering a set of personal skills, knowledge and understanding of media and communications. It is a specialist term, not part of everyday language." (Sounds a bit like th eproblems we have with IL!)
They go on to acknowledge that there are two other non-traditional literacies which appear in public policy (digital literacy and information literacy which "offer related visions of the technical and critical thinking skills required for modern living and woirking").
"Information literacy and digital literacy include within their definitions some of the competencies related to skills, knowledge and understanding included in media literacy. Some authors suggest that media literacy is simply literacy in the context of the digital world. Others refer to it as 21st Century literacy."
There is much common ground between IL and media literacy.

Ofcom then propose to define media literacy as "the ability to use, understand and create (digital) media and communications". In the context of this report which focuses on digital matters they add 'digital' (see above).
They understand that no single organisation in isolation can promote media literacy and many organisations have a key role. I would say the same is true of IL.
The key elements fostering digital engagment are :
1.Digital inclusion
2.Digital life skills
3.Digital media literacy
These will be encountered by individuals in a continuum and can be seen as as different stages in each person's development. Various organisations could be involved in these stages and libraries/museums& archives are seen as part of 3. digital media literacy.
The advantages of developing digital life skills include being able to find and access information more quickly. Digital life skills should be tackled in formal education at primary, secondary and tertiary levels.
They acknowledge the importance of eight key areas where action is needed to promote what they call digital engagement. These include critical evaluation ; provision in education and ethical use of media.
How are libraries mentioned?

To improve skills : free and low cost taster sessions in libraries especially in deprived areas.

"Promote a culture within schools, libraries and support organisations that will empower teachers and group leaders to encourage young people to get involved as digital participants and creators to develop their creative and critical thinking skills."

"Promote a culture within schools that empowers teachers to encourage young people to get involved as digital participants and creators to develop their creative and critical thinking skills."

"Promote a culture within schools that empowers teachers to guide young people to develop their creative skills while remaining on the right side of the law."

In the implementation section
"the BBC recognises that, with an estimated 17 million adults not using computers and the internet, there is more to be done to motivate and inspire them to acquire IT skills and go online.The BBC believes it can and should make a substantial contribution to achieving a higher ambition in this area, and will seek to make significant new investment to implement a reinvigorated BBC media literacy strategy." It goes on to suggest a new strategy to reinvigorate BBC media literacy. This involves a Consortium to work with Government to build a framework for creating a real digitally engaged society (to include BBC,ITC,CH4 BSkyB, Broadband stakeholder group, a group of social media portals, UK Online centres, National Institute of Adult Continuing Education. )

Would there be merit in libraries getting involved with this Consortium? CILIP?
Could the initiatives also help to get across the importance of IL ? Surely there is enough common ground (critical awareness ; ethical issues, for example) to consider this?

Thank you for reading this! Let's have some comments - please - if only to tell me about my typos!

More about what students say about researching

Further to my post on 8 April about Head and Eisenbeg's report (University of Washington) about how students study derived from focus groups on 7 US campuses : there are also two YouTube videos called the InfoLit Dialogs :
No 1 is about Presearch and attitudes to Wikipedia (part of this could be used to preface a session on Wikipedia.

No. 2 is about Procrastination and how most students leave everything to the last minute (again could be useful as a discussion prompt)

Thanks to Facebook I spotted a reference to these videos by Susan Ariew, one of the book's contributors - so thank you Susan!

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Being creative with Web 2.0 in academic liaison

Must recommend Sarah Oxford's(University of Worcester, Institute of Education) inspiring article in the May 2009 CILIP Library and Information Update.She tells how she is using Netvibes, delicious and Ning to reach her staff and students. Makes all my past pleadings seem worthwhile!

Saturday, 25 April 2009

LILAC discussion transcript

The chatlog (transcript) of the discussion Impressions from the LILAC (information literacy) conference, held in Second Life on Infolit iSchool on 23rd April, is available. Three of us each highlighted a session we'd enjoyed. Vicki Cormie talked about Andrew Walsh's session on using mobiles, Marshall Dozier talked about Peter Godwin's, which also focused on mobiles, and I talked about Sally Patalong's account of two information literacy modules (credit bearing) that she runs. The chatlog is posted at

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Discussions in SL 23 and 30 April

There are 2 discussions about information literacy upcoming in Second Life. Both take place within SL (the virtual world) and you need a SL avatar and the SL browser installed on your computer.
Impressions of the LILAC conference.
Thurs 23 April, 12noon - 1pm SLT (8-9pm UK time)
Infolit iSchool,
LILAC is the major UK information literacy conference. Some LILAC participants will highlight sessions they liked. If you were at LILAC too - come and share your impressions. If you were not - come and hear about what happened!
Focus Group: SL as a tool for networking, collaboration and CPD
When: 30 April 2009, 12noon - 1pm SLT (8-9pm UK time)
Where: Sakura House, Infolit iSchool
We are looking for librarians or information specialists to participate in a focus group discussion on Second Life a facility for networking, collaboration or continuing professional development. What works and what doesn't work? We need input from those working in any sector, in any country (the discussion will be in English).

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

World Wide Web in Plain English

Here is another CommonCraft video : it's on the WWW this time and may be really useful to get across basic concepts to student groups.

Keeping up and avoiding information overload

I can thoroughly recommend Librarian in Black's presentation on Slideshare for a two hour session at the Texas Library Association's annual conference in 2009 (held in Houston). It covers methods for dealing with information overload, ways to stay current, and tools/sites/resources for staying current in the field of librarianship. I've never seen such a comprehensive treatment. Guess what I remember most from it is : take charge ; weed ; don't be a victim!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Wikipedia is winning!

John Naughton's article in the Observer on 5th April traced Encyclopedia Britannica's problems over the years. Around 1995 Microsoft's Encarta nearly killed it off (remember Encarta?seems so long ago now!) . Now we have the news that Microsoft is shutting down the Encarta sites at the end of 2009. This is largely because Wikipedia has effectively killed Encarta off. Naughton then maintains that the arguments over accuracy of content should be set aside. Instead of complaining about it, academics should be adding to it! As Professor Peter Murray-Rust (University of Cambridge) said recently at a conference in Oxford: "The bit of Wikipedia that I wrote is correct."
I think John Naughton is correct : Wikipedia is "one of the greatest inventions we have.Isn't it time we accepted it? Microsoft has."
Therefore in our IL interventions we should be recommending it as a first port of call for basic information, teaching how to recognise and use a good Wikipedia site and encourage everyone to write and edit sites, thereby learning the perils of information creation.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Information Literacy and Second Life

I just posted on my information literacy blog about a session that I did at the LILAC conference with Vicki Cormie, Denny Colledge, Marshall Dozier and Lyn Parker. The topic was Aspects of information literacy in virtual worlds. As is explained in the longer post, we didn't use ppt in the session (we were using Second Life live - two of the team appeared virtually rather than in person), but we did have a handout with some slides, and this is now on Slideshare at
Additionally we have set up a delicious account with bookmarks to do with libraries/information literacy and virtual worlds at

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Today's college students and conducting research in a digital age

In case you haven't come across this excellent report before, Alison Head and Michael Eisenberg of University of Washington are looking into how students do their research. The first progress report is available and details their findings derived from 90 minute discussion with groups of students at various levels from 7 different US Universities or colleges, Oct.-Dec. 2008. From this they are building up a view of students being like inexperienced sailors heading into a high wind, sails flapping and being unable to go where they want.

For this blog there is an interesting list of why students use Wikipedia.

For those who think research is so easy now with Google, they are finding that paradoxically "research seems to be far more difficult to conduct in the digital age than it did in previous times".
Pic is of Cardiff Central Public Library again

Libraries of the future

There was a big debate about this at Oxford last week. Thanks to Susie Andretta I am linking to a short provocative piece by Adam Corson-Finnerty from University of Pennsylvania. Here's an extract :

"Re-deploy your people
Get your people out of supervising the study hall, standing-behind-a-service-desk, giving directions to the nearest bathroom.
Retrain Librarians as “Informationists” or "Informaticians" or whatever new term breaks them out of the old mold. Your new librarians will be full members of academic research teams, or will "team" with individual scholars, including undergraduates. "
"Emphasize training patrons in information-finding skills.
Emphasize digital self-help.
Emphasize collaborative tool-development with faculty"

His verdict : Cornell, Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Princeton (oh, OK and Croydon)– the provenance of most of the speakers did tend to restrict the range of future library scenarios discussed; no reference to Information Skills training or to school or college libraries, or to the evidence-based agenda of health or government libraries, for example. Nevertheless, it was an event full of ideas and challenges, and worth attending, whether physically or virtually. But as I compared the grey hairs in the lecture theatre with the nubile avatars on Second Life, I was reminded of the late great librarian Henry Heaney’s take on Acts 2:17 - “Young men have visions and old men dream dreams – but the world is forever run by the middle-aged”
Pic above is the new Central Public Library in Cardiff

Monday, 6 April 2009

First K-12 Horizon Report ever!

The annual Horizon Report is a well-known source for crystal-ball gazing about emerging technologies which will affect education over the next 5 years.
This links you to the first K-12 (primary and secondary) version.
Technologies to watch : collaborative environments; online communicatiion tools ; mobiles ; cloud computing ; smart objects and the personal web.
Five key trends to watch in schools are described and then five critical challenges (what we used to call problems!)One of these "there is a growing need for formal instruction in key new skills, including information literacy, visual literacy and technological literacy".
The 32 pages are well worth looking at if you are in the school sector.

Learning spaces

Not specifically about libraries - but the latest issue of Educause review (vol 32 no. 1) focuses on Learning Spaces, including Web 2.0-type spaces and use of Web 2.0 for planning.

Is the web generation changing your world?

This little video on YouTube by Don Tapscott starts off with all the usual sterotypes that are often mentioned about the web generation (that they're only interested in MySpace and are dumbing things down).Then it leads on to his research, which shows a rather different picture and his book "Grown up digital". The video could be useful as a prompt for discussions.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Some delicious ideas

While editing up an article today (ugh) I came across some interesting ideas for using delicious on the Information Literacy at ISU blog (Idaho State University)

Search with Delicious
Invite students to search within Delicious ( In a history class, they might search “civil war.” They would then find websites that others had marked as bookmarks. Remember that the more a website is bookmarked, the greater its chances of being a reliable or useful site.

Worksheets with Delicious
Let students find answers to questions on a handout through the websites you have bookmarked and tagged. Bookmarks can be grouped into “Bundles,” so hints and reference to particular “Bundles” may assist students as they navigate your bookmarks to answer the questions on the handout. It is possible to create Delicious accounts specific to a class and separate from personal accounts. As far as I know, nobody has been limited in the number of Delicious accounts they create.

Find Five Websites for Your Project
Tell students to look for five websites that would be good for a particular research assignment. Then ask them to send these websites to your Delicious account. Do this by including the following tag: for:(+ account name.) Ex: for:sjardine. The saved websites go to your Delicious Inbox, identifying from whom they came.

Anyone tried anything like this?

Facebook and the over 35s

Apparently the number of Americans over 35, 45, and 55 on Facebook is growing fast. In the last 60 days alone, the number of people over 35 has nearly doubled. Developers and marketers may want to think about how to serve this group of new users.
Here are the latest stats on Facebook’s US audience gender and age demographics, according to the company:
Facebook US Audience Growth, Last 180 Days
Looking at Facebook US audience growth over the last 180 days, it’s clear that Facebook is seeing massive increases in adoption amongst users 35-65. The fastest growing demographic on Facebook is still women over 55 - there are now nearly 1.5 million of them active on Facebook each month.
The biggest growth in terms of absolute new users over the last six month came amongst users 35-44. Over 4 million more US women 35-44 and nearly 3 million more US men 35-44 used Facebook in March 2009 compared to September 2008.

Wonder what the situation is here in the UK? Certainly seems to be catching on but Twitter is the really fsahionable one.

Here's the link where this came from.

Back from LILAC

The LILAC Conference was in Cardiff this year. on th eright is a view of their recently opened new Public Library. Sheila Webber has blogged about the Conference already so I refer you to her posts.
I was delighted that a workshop on Web 2.0 and Information Literacy was overbooked (I didn't go along!) ; that has made all these efforts seem worthwhile!!

I presented under the title"Information Literacy meets the Mobile Web." This is a pretty new field, rather like this one when I started out in 2006! It can be seen as an extension of 2.0 toools like podcasts, vodcasts and concepts like being where they are. Sure there are lots of limitations like different mobile devices, lack of Wireless hotspots and rental costs : but the potential remains.

M-Posium, 22nd April in Manchester

"This one-day event aims to gather researchers, and other creative practitioners whose work focuses on mobile learning. The aim of the m-posium is for practitioners and guests to share good practice and to learn from the key themes that emerge from individual experiences."
Confirmed speakers: Andy Black, Technology Research Manager, Learning and Skills
Support Manager; Dr David Whyley, Head teacher and e-learning consultant for the
City of Wolverhampton; Jon Trinder, Dept of Electrical and Electronic Engineering,
University of Glasgow; John Traxler, Reader in Mobile Technology for e-Learning;
Director, Learning Lab, University of Wolverhampton; Prof. John Cook, Professor of Technology Enhanced Learning at the Learning Technology Research Institute, London Metropolitan University; Dr. Stephen Hagan, HEA Subject Centre in Information and
Computer Sciences (ICS); Dr. Mark Stubbs, head of Learning and Research Technologies,
Manchester Metropolitan University;
Date: Wednesday 22nd April 2009. Venue: Manchester Metropolitan University
Contact: Sylvie Steward via email for further details or to request a place
The event is free to attend and places are limited to 30. These will be subject to a first come first served approach.