Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Information Source Evaluation Matrix

The new SCONUL Focus contains an article written by Mike Leigh and colleagues at DMU on the Information Source Evaluation Matrix, which they are using to enable students to assess information sources. Please send any feedback to Kaye Towlson (kbt@dmu.ac.uk).

Towlson, Kaye, Leigh, Mike and Mathers, Lucy (2009) The Information Source Evaluation Matrix, a quick, easy and transferable content evaluation tool, SCONUL Focus (47) p15 - 18

The Information Source Evaluation Matrix (ISEM) was developed by Leigh, Mathers and Towlson (2009) as part of a Research Informed Teaching Award funded project at De Montfort University. It is a quick, easy to use, information evaluation tool which identifies common criteria used in the evaluation of information sources. It provides a range of descriptors allocated to each evaluation criterion to allow a weighting to be allocated to a source within the context of a given task. This generates an overall score which gives a strong indication of the value of the source to the students’ work. This article provides background to its development and purpose, plus a copy of the matrix.

Online at http://www.sconul.ac.uk/publications/newsletter/47/5.pdf

At first sight this looks a very useful tool and its use would force students to apply all the criteria concerned in evaluating a website or any material.

There is also a copy of the matrix on the DMU site here.

Monday, 29 March 2010

The Future of Publishing

Came across this really clever little video : its about what the Web Genaeration may or may not think about published stuff. Originally done for internal use by Dorling Kindersley Books. Glad they have shared it because it's a good conversation trigger.

Times are a changin' at Wikipedia

According to a post today on ReadWriteWeb some major changes are on the way at Wikipedia.The aim will be to make editing simpler. Will this encourage more to participate? Just about every student group I see I ask how many of them have done or edited a Wikipedia site and the result is always only 1 or 2. Wikipedia is often quoted as the example of the wisdom of the crowd, etc. The truth is that 50% of the edits are done by 1% of the users.
The new design can be expected 5 April with further changes later.
The article in ReadWriteWeb asks : is it too late? Have people given upon it?

I think not, but it is up to all of us involved in eduction (and especially libraries) to encourage everyone to edit. We all know something unique : it's just that we lack the confidence and initiative to go online to share it! Also it's a telling experience to write a Wikipedia site : where will you get your information? Where will you check it? It's a pity that some of the academics critical of Wikipedia had not got their students to write a Wikipedia site as a learning exercise!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Reframing Information Literacy as a Metaliteracy

I came across this preprint for College and Research Journal, by Thomas P. Mackey and Trudi E. Jacobson.

The abstract said :

"Social media environments and online communities are innovative collaborative technologies that challenge traditional definitions of information literacy. Metaliteracy is an overarching and self-referential framework that integrates emerging technologies and unifies multiple literacy types. This redefinition of information literacy expands the scope of generally understood information competencies and places a particular emphasis on producing and sharing information in participatory digital environments."

This proves to be a critically important article for taking the content of our book further.

They argue that social media (Web 2.0 tools like Facebook, Twitter, Delicious etc.) environments are transient, requiring comprehensive understanding of information in order to critically evaluate, share and produce content in various forms. Various iteracies such as digital literacy, media literacy, visual literacy, transliteracy and IT fluency have arisen to respond to this challenge.They prefer the development of a metaliteracy, within which information litracy plays a central part. They feel "Information literacy is more significant now than it ever was, but it must be connected to related literacy types that address ongoing shifts in technology,"
"Through this overarching approach to information literacy, we examine the term within a new media environment. Metaliteracy promotes critical thinking and collaboration in a digital age, providing a comprehensive framework to effectively participate in social media and online communities. It is a unified construct that supports the acquisition, production, and sharing of knowledge in collaborative online communities. Metaliteracy expands upon the traditional skills-based approach to understanding information as somehow disconnected from emerging technologies and related literacy types. Standard definitions of information literacy are insufficient for the revolutionary social technologies currently prevalent online."

There follows an excellent summary of the prevailing literacy frameworks : Informatin Literacy, Media literacy,Visual literacy, Cyberliteracy, Information fluency. These literacies were being challenged by the need to cover active individual creation and distribution. A further examination of literature in this area includes articles by Kimmo Tuominen where she suggests Web 2.0 technologies have led to an "erosion of information contexts" : a point I have made several times.

In developing the idea of an overarching metaliteracy the authors want to see a change from seeing IL as primarily skills-based toward collaborative production and sharing of information using interactive technologies. The discussion of metaliteracy in practice which follows is a very thoughtful analysis of the challenge of using social media. However, despite agreeing with so much of it I remain in doubt about the wisdom of creating another new term. The purpose would seem to be to ensure understanding of how content is developede and distributed in the various online environments. I would maintain that exisiting frameworks like the SCONUL 7 Pillars can already accommodate this changes and that the importance of certain pillars has shifted over the past 5 years : for example the type of information carriers in pillar 2 to include participatory envioronments like blogs, wikis etc. and the increasing importance of pillar 5 to compare and evalute material from a variety of sources and media.
My other problem with the concept of metaliteracy is that it is even less attractive as a term than Information Literacy. We want to engage our users, the public, the politicans (even) but how would they like metaliteracy?

Wikipedia : two viewpoints

Alison Head and Micahel Eisenberg have written an interesting paper in First Monday. It is part of the Project Information Literacy (PIL) at University of Washington's Information School. They undertook 11 student focus groups on 7 US campuses in late 2008 and a survey at 6 US college campuses in spring 2009.

Major findings from the study are as follows:

1.Far more students, than not, used Wikipedia. Wikipedia was used in addition to a small set of other commonly used information resources at the beginning of the research process.
2.Reasons for using Wikipedia were diverse: Wikipedia provided students with a summary about a topic, the meaning of related terms, and also got students started on their research and offered a usable interface.
3.Respondents who were majoring in architecture, engineering, or the sciences were more likely to use Wikipedia than respondents in other majors.

The article is a good reply to academics who decry the overuse of Wikipedia. The findings indicate that students see it as a starting point and many expect to have to verify information against other sources.

Then I cam across an article by Mike Melenson on ReadWriteWeb "Why Wikipedia should be trusted as a breaking news source." How much less trustworthy is the site for breaking news than the plethora of blogs and other online news sources? He refers to various papers given at the recent South by Southwest Music and Media Conference in Austin. The line taken is that Wikipedia is a place for students to begin.
Furthermore "if we are willing to take crowd-sourced content - whether tweets, Facebook updates, blogs, videos or whatever else - as valid sources for information about our world, then a collection of these same media as carefully poured over and curated as found in a Wikipedia article should be even more trusted, not less, than those bits on their own."

Another useful angle on Wikipedia.

Young learners need librarians, not just Google

Want a quick justification for IL in schools and the importance of a librarian? Take a look at this little article by Mark Moran in Forbes.

He says "As a former executive officer at a company that had 1,200 employees in 29 countries worldwide, I know that without adequate media literacy training, kids will not succeed in a 21st-century workplace."


"In a recent study of fifth grade students in the Netherlands, most never questioned the credibility of a Web site, even though they had just completed a course on information literacy. When my company asked 300 school students how they searched, nearly half answered: "I type a question." When we asked how students knew if a site was credible, the most common answers were "if it sounds good" or "if it has the information I need." Equally dismal was their widespread failure to check a source’s date, author or citations."

He concludes :

"Before parents accept the wisdom of a school board to cut school librarians, they should ask: Will my child graduate with a 21st century resume, or a 19th century transcript? Can he use collaborative technology, such as wikis? When a search engine returns 105 million results, can the student find the five that will set her paper apart? With the Web evolving by the minute, can classroom teachers alone, stressed by assessment testing and ever-growing paperwork burdens, help students figure this all out? As the information landscape becomes ever more complex, why does a school district want to abandon its professional guides to it?"

Monday, 8 March 2010

Library Channel and Just a Minute Videos

Arizona State University have been trend-setters in providing video support for their students. I knew about their Library Channel on YouTube, but via a Twitter post revisited it and came across their Library Minute series. Anyone considering creating videos should take a look at these. You may not think the style will suite your students, but I would expect you will get some good ideas for titles and content.

Here is the Academic Search Premier one.

I liked the film clip that came up after she sais Academic Search Premier "What??"

I was particularly interested in this series because at University of Bedfordshire had decided that we would do One Minute videos. I am convinced that the short burst is the best hope to reach our users. Therefore we have built up a series (different style for us Brits!?) of Just a Minute videos. View the list here.

Here's our video about self issue of books

Web 2.0 : the truth behind the hype

This was the title of Karen Blakeman's presentation for the CLSIG debate in Birmingham on 1 March. Her blog notes :
"I have given the presentation a Creative Commons 3 non-commercial by attribution license, which means you are free to download and re-use it as long you cite me as the author and you don’t sell it for a heap of cash!"
I found it really thought-provoking. Contains some super examples of how we are all using Web 2.0
for finding information, using Web 2.0 to check information, and that we are often using it without knowing it! View it here.

Data data everywhere

The Economist is not somewhere I would expect to find an article which backs up what librarians are trying to do. Data, data everywhere, by Kenneth Cukier, talks about the explosion of data available and the problems it causes.

"the world contains an unimaginably vast amount of digital information which is getting ever vaster ever more rapidly. This makes it possible to do many things that previously could not be done: spot business trends, prevent diseases, combat crime and so on. Managed well, the data can be used to unlock new sources of economic value, provide fresh insights into science and hold governments to account.

But they are also creating a host of new problems. Despite the abundance of tools to capture, process and share all this information—sensors, computers, mobile phones and the like—it already exceeds the available storage space.

It's a good short article which may be useful to you.

Read it here

Friday, 5 March 2010

Information Literacy 2.0 : hype or discourse refinement

When I came across the reference to this article (Sonja Spiranec and Mihaela Banek Zorica Information Literacy 2.0 : hype or discourse refinement Journal of Documentation 66(1) 140-153.) I feared the worst : another article splitting hairs about what IL is , and full of long words (pedagogies, praxis etc.). In fact I found myself agreeing with much of the content, despite remaining sceptical about the need for the term, "Information Literacy 2.0). I don't normally do long posts (or read long articles with big words...) but this article is so relevant to this blog that I have made an exception.

The authors start with a description of how the term IL has developed "in response to the issues that were necessitated by the developments within the information society". The Web was crucial in this development. Despite digitilisation and shifts toward virtual libraries the basic concepts of IL have remained the same, Web 2.0 has brought new landscapes which are user-centred and very much about participation. Services can be shaped by this participation. New types of information resources have appeared. "What will happen with information literacy now that both [information landscapes and education] have fundamentally changed with the appearnace of Web 2.0? Can information literact remain unchanged?"

When I scoped our book there was very little mention of "Information Literacy 2.0" on the web. The authors have used some of the same sources which I used. Most of them predate our book. The connection between IL and Web 2.0 was new then, and the case studies we included were largely trendsetters. The authors of this article have used the intervening time to accept the importance of the juxtapostion of IL and Web 2.0 and attempt to redraw the map of what IL can be.
In doing this they have been critical of the skills model of IL and moved toward the socio-technical model of Scandinavian authoes like Tuominen. In other words IL stems from particular groups and communities , evolving within subject disciplines, and is practiced by communites using their own technologies.
The authors refer to posts about IL2.0 saying "one could easily get the impression that IL2.0 is entirely about using Web 2.0 services ...as a medium of information delivery and a method of education". Perhaps the authors had seen this blog or read our book after all!! However we always knew it was more than just offering new methods of IL delivery. This happened to be the most attractive and easily understood part three years ago.
Then we move on to the paradigm shift (there always has to be one of these!)following recent developments in information landscapes and approaches to learning, and how this might affect IL.
Web 2.0 is changing what it means to be information literate : the blurring of authority following the erosion of information context (Yes, yes!)Web 2.0 "brought an end to the stability of information context by creating flat and fluid information spaces". This leads to increased emphasis on critical understanding of how information is generated. They say"Information Literacy 2.0 further presupposes the reduction of the contents related to the typical assumptions of information retrieval such as extensive introductions to Boolean operators". Totally agreed : we spend more time teaching how to evaluate what is found and less on the intricacies of search technique. In other words more on SCONUL 7 pillar no. 5 and less on no. 4. This is exactly what I predicted several years ago.
The authors are critical of the one size fits all approach to IL teaching - a mistake which I used to make years ago when having to teach students from many disciplines! The importance of the discipline and the recognition that information searching is seldom if ever done in a structured sequential way (the way we often teach it - for our convenience) are points very well made.I like we should "encourage students to stop seeing research/assignments as a process of collecting information and instead to see in terms of forming their own perespectives and creating new insights, which is in the core of IL 2.0 as well".
The authors note the widening of library instruction beyond what is contained in the library and subscribed to it and which is now widened to include blogs, Wikipedia etc. etc.
"The only way for educational institutions to control or influence information behaviour of students in these new realms is indirectly through IL programmes". Moving away from Booleamn operators toward tagging, issues of reliability etc. Totally agree. Just been teaching that all week to large classes of new Master level students!! I wish that was sufficient :and we were that important! However I am sure that the institution has duties regarding protection of privacy, plagiarism and academics have the key part to play by utilising the new technologies to enhance the educational experience. However I am bound to say that although Web 2.0 is now mainstream and here to stay, I do not think we are anywhere near the tipping point where the educational experience of the students has fundamentally changed. That tends to drive a stake through the whole argument of the paper.
Will we soon be talking about IL3.0? I don't accept we are talking about IL2.0 : merely that we have seen a merging of many literacies around a common core which is fundamentally about information in one form or another, and that Web 2.0 has enabled these artefacts to be created and shared by everyone. This requires a shift in the balance of the way IL is "taught" with more emphasis on evaluation and the ethical issues of re-use of material.

Thanks for staying with this : I hope you have found it interesting! What a way to spend a Friday afternoon, writing this...

Pic is of a "social learning space" years ago here at the library in Luton. Have things changed?

Mobile Reference : what are the questions?

Joan Lippincott (of Coalition for Networked Information) has a prepint version of an article here for Reference Librarian on a most topical subject.Here is the abstract :

"While many libraries are already offering some types of reference services geared to
users of mobile devices, they generally focus on the reference transaction and not on
some of the broader aspects of service, including availability of content for mobile
devices and relationship of the library’s services to mobile initiatives on campus. Asking
the right questions during the planning process can assist librarians in clarifying their
goals for the service, identifying units to work with on campus, and determining whether
the service is successful. This is a rapidly developing area and flexibility is key."

She asks : What is the current state of deployment of mobiles in your institution? What are your goals for providing services and what is your strategy? Who should you work with to take mobile reference forward? How do you measure success? What is your strategy for the next 2-3 years?

As normal with Joan's articles this is both a thought-provoking and practical short article.

Pic shows our LRC where I work, on a sunny day (like today).