Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Thriving in the 21st century JISC LLiDA project

This is an important study (click here)and the summary (click here)is well worth reading (I haven't had time to read the whole report in detail yet!) It set out to :
-review the evidence of change in the contexts of learning, including the nature of work, knowledge, social life and citizenship, communications media and other technologies
-review current responses to these challenges from the further and higher education sectors, in terms of the kinds of capabilities valued, taught for and assessed (especially as revealed through competence frameworks); the ways in which capabilities are supported ('provision')the value placed on staff and student 'literacies of the digital'
-collect original data concerning current practice in literacies provision in UK FE and HE, including 15 institutional audits and over 40 examples of forward thinking practice
-offer conclusions and recommendations, in terms of the same issues reviewed in 2

This is a mine of information about current UK HE practice in supporting literacies - the literacy frameworks, recent reports on digital learning, the innovative part played by librarians with digital technologies and the need for this to spread much wider to other staff. The complacency of students about their IL skills is noted : my own University of Bedfordshire is quoted here "it was a little depressing to discover that many students even at level 2 are still relying on Google for their information and that many of them do not see the relevance of information literacy to their studies".
Another point : "Many literacies are so deeply and tacitly embedded in subject teaching that academic staff do not identify their practice as literacy-based at all. " (Librarians could work with them to ensure that the necessary literacies are covered).

The report confirmed and expanded upon the challenges identified in the literature review:
- institutional silos, so learners often have several places to seek help with their learning, and cultural differences can make cross-service/dept collaboration difficult
-(often) poor embedding of literacies into the curriculum, particularly at the level of feedback and assessment
- (often) poor integration of information/digital literacies with academic/learning literacies
- curriculum provision tends to be one-off and cohort-based, rather than based on an ethos of personal development: central provision is more personal and developmental but rarely reaches learners when they are actually engaged in authentic tasks
-Academic staff perceive students as being more digitally capable than is really the case
- poor self-evaluation by learners, particularly in relation to their information skills, so voluntary services are not reaching those in most need, and skills modules are not perceived as relevant or important
Student expectations, student diversity and employability were the main agendas driving change in provision for learning and digital literacy.

They believe that information literacy should be widened to include or be supplemented by communication and media literacies. In their work they found that digital literacy was often applied to Web 2.0 tools while information literacy was almost always referring to digital content literacies.

They say :
"The agenda needs to be clearly formulated around informed and critical use of technology for learning. SCONUL's fifth pillar, 'the ability to compare and evaluate information obtained from different sources' seems in Moira Bent's recent review to overlap considerably with what we have called critical or media literacy: 'knowledge about the way the media operate, and certain processes which are particularly important in the academic context, such as peer review of scholarly articles'. Different disciplines demand proficiency in different (combinations of) media, and create/share meaning in different ways: learners need to both inhabit and critique these modes. Current information literacy models also tend to assume that academic ideas will be expressed (predominantly) in text. All the background research points to the need for learners to become proficient at creative self expression, and critical argumentation, in a range of media. This presents many challenges, not least in relation to assessment. In relation to digital technology itself, the point is not to encourage more technology use but to encourage more insightful, more reflective and more critical choices about technology and its role in learning. "

This is the key paragraph to me because it is the SCONUL pillar 5 which is most critical rigfht now. Libraries should not think only in text (and of course many do not : I used to be a video librarian once) and we need to start recognising that our role is to assist in the creation of and learning from material of all kinds.

Please let's have some comments!!

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