Friday, 29 May 2009

Information Literacy in Dublin

Fresh back from my first trip ever to Ireland, I want to thank the Advisory Committee on Information Literacy of CONUL for inviting me to speak at their annual Information Literacy Seminar in Dublin.
We heard from Margot Conrick (UCC), Isolde Harpur (TCD) and Niall McSweeney (NUIG) about the Graduate Information Skills package being prepared cooperatively which will form a credited unit and part of Key Skills module for PhD, research masters and post doctoral students throughout Eire. It is still under development and should be completed by spring 2010 or earlier.
Kevin O'Rourke (DIT) gave an entertaining view of how VLEs had developed from the days when content was king. In Dublin usage in He is 50% Blackboard and 50% Moodle. He (like me) wants to promote more active learning via VLEs and encourage lecturers from just using them as an archive.
The final session was an excellent debate on "Is there a place for online social networking in teaching and learning?" Cathal McCauley (NUIM) and Ronan Kennedy (NUIG) were for and Tony Eklof (UCD) and Kathleen James-Chakraborty (UCD) were against. Showed to me what a good idea a debate can be to get across so much information and keep people alert after the post-lunch dip.Issues raised included : Daily Mail report about Facebook raising the risk of cancer ; Facebook users doing less academic work ; Japanaese students who drop out of life in a phenomenon called hikikomori ; Real climate as an example of an influentail academic blog which is in effect peer-reviewed ; and H20 playlist, an experimental site from Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard Law School, giving shared list of readings and other content about topics of intellectual interest. The motion was carried 52% for 38% con and 10% abstaining.

My presentation "Shots in the dark : Information Literacy in the 21st Century" is on Slideshare at

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Social networking literacy competencies for Librarians

This is a summary of an interesting paper called "Social networking for librarians : exploring considerations and engaging participation" given at ACRL Conference "Pushing the edge : explore, engage, extend in March 2009.

Based on the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for HE, Joe Murphy (Science Librarian, Yale) and Heather Moulaison (Doctoral student, Rutgers) have come up with some competencies for the social networking librarian. These were informed by doing training for fellow librarians and LIS students in the use and creation of library services with social networks.

The social networking literate librarian is capable of articulating the nature and roles of
online social networking sites and their importance in scholarly research and communication,
and the information cycle.

The social networking literate librarian is capable of creating, contributing, and revising
content in various formats including images, text, audio, video, links, and more within and
beyond the presence of their library in a variety of social networking sites with various tools.

The social networking literate librarian is capable of critically evaluatinbg information encountered in social networking sites on the basis of authority, currency, bias etc. " and of passing this on to library users.

The social networking literate librarian applies ionformation in social networking sites ethically and legally.

The social networking literate librarian knows how to effectively search and browse
various online social networks for known and unknown contacts, and for information and
resources in a variety of formats.

The social networking literate librarian is familiar with the diverse methods of
communicating with social networking sites and is aware of and able to apply the unique cultural
norms and expectations of each communication method.

The social networking literate librarian is capable of teaching these skills to library
patrons and peers.

The social networking literate librarian utilizes a variety of online social networking sites
to provide quality library services. They evaluate social network sites and choose which are most
appropriate to establish a library presence in.

They note
"The most important, and possibly hardest to develop, skill is the ability to look ahead,
visualize, create, and manage robust library services in full consideration of and within social
networking sites. This takes vision, creativity, and a constant thumb on the pulse of the social
web, its users, and their behaviors.

This is an important and useful article and amplifies much of what Sheila Webber said in her chapter in our book and takes us all a stage further implementing Web 2.0 to ourselves and our patrons.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

How 2 of Web 2.0

A "23 things" type activity (looking at a different kind of Web 2.0 tool every week) has been followed through by Australian librarians at the How 2 of Web 2.0 website. You can also peek into all their blogs for their comments on the different tools!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Second Life activities

The chatlog for the discussion on Second Life ... revisiting media literacy, held on 14 May 2009 on Infolit iSchool, is at
The next events are on 21 May (Dr Diane Nahl talks about affect in information behaviour) and 5 June (contribute to a 3D build of the SCONUL 7 Pillars with examples relating to questions on swine flu! Sheila Yoshikawa/Webber is pictured here with the current Pillar 5). These are part of the activities of the Centre for Information Literacy Research

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Libraries of the Future

Recently I produced a short opinion paper for JISC about the current state of Information Literacy entitled "Information Literacy sans frontieres" for the Libraries of the Future Campaign. It is linked to from the Libraries of the Future blog. I shall also be taking part in the Looking into the Future Libraries of the Future strand at the JISC Digital Content Conference 2009 at Cotswold Water Park Four Pillars Hotel 30 June-1 July. Registration for this major JISC Conference is free and still available here.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

The Next Age of Discovery

"It's being called a second Renaissance!" said Todd Hickey, curator at University of California, Berkeley. This fascinating article by Alexandra Alter in Wall Street Journal 8 May 2009 tells of the race to digitise crumbling literary treasures. Rare manuscripts are being digitised from out of the way monasteries and some made available for research for the first time. Perhaps it's the historian in me that excites me most about all of this. So much in the past has been destroyed by war and climate but we now have the possibility of preserving it!

Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World

This JISC report from an Independent Committee of Inquiry into the impact on HE of students' widespread use of Web 2.0 is out. Here is the summary, and here is the full report.

As I expected they do not paint a uniform picture of the Web generation as multi gadget-owning and tech savvy. This kind of view went out with the CIBER report. There is still some evidence of digital divides in access to, engagement with, capability of the technology, as well as individual ability.

The importance of the learning experience at school keeps recurring. Methods of delivery encountered there are likely to be what is expected in HE. The report draws heavily on evidence from the JISC Great Expectations and Great Expectations of ICT studies. Present day students value face-to-face delivery and are not pushing for changes in traditional approaches. However if school practices do begin to change (use of Web 2.0 delivery) then this will present a challenge to HE, not just in continuing their experience from school to HE but also in providing challenge and development.

At present use of Web 2.0 is patchy in HE and tends to be driven from the bottom up. Web 2.0 technology has not yet been fully exploited for student learning yet. As this develops in HE it will challenge some students who expect traditional delivery. Surely the role of HE is to challenge and provide opportunities for adapting - that's what tomorrow's students will require. This is where the usefulness of Web 2.0 for supporting constructivist educational practice comes into play.

The report notes concerns about lack of systematic information searching; the user being impressed with speed of access, huge information available and power browsing. None of this is new to readers of the CIBER report and subsequent investigations at University College London. It is good to see this important report saying for prior experience of HE learners :
"Information literacies – including searching, retrieving and critically evaluating information from a range of appropriate sources and also attributing it – represent a significant and growing deficit area."
and finally recommends :
"HEIs, colleges and schools treat information literacies as a priority area and support all students so that they are able, amongst other things, to identify, search, locate, retrieve and, especially, critically evaluate information from the range of appropriate sources – web-based and other – and organise and use it effectively, attributed as necessary, in an appropriate medium".

This report supports what we are doing in HE but challenges us to improve what is done in schools and smooth the transition into higher education.

Friday, 1 May 2009

It's not about the technology

I liked this post : "learning in the 21st century is not about the technology", says Kelly W. Hines. Yes of course they need computers, ipods, etc etc but these are not the main driver of change in the classroom. It's the need for a seachange in attitudes to learning and teaching.
"Here is a list of four things that every teacher must recognize in order to effectively and positively impact students in a new generation of learning:"
1.Teachers must be learners.
2.Learning and Teaching are not the same thing.
3.Technology is useless without good teaching.
4.Be a 21st century teacher without the technology.

Finally -
"Now imagine a classroom where the teacher has embraced these principles. The teacher is a learner. The teacher teaches with learning in mind. 21st century skills are highlighted through facilitative leadership. These foundational components of a quality classroom experience will ensure that students value experiential and focused learning. Now if you take this teacher and introduce them to the wonders that technology offers for students, the possibilities are endless. But, it really is not about the technology."

I've read similar articles but never expressed in such a short punchy way.