Thursday, 10 May 2012

LILAC 2012 part 3 Our Symposium "Information Literacy - just an outdated buzzword".

I have saved the best part til now! Jo Parker, Jane Secker and myself put on a fun Symposium " Information Literacy - just an outdated buzzword?" on the Thursday afternoon immediately after lunch.
I was worried that we were competing against 4 other events including a Teachmeet. Also immediately after lunch would anyone want to argue about the merits of Information Literacy?
We were very pleasantly surprised to see upwards of 50 delegates crowding into the room. But would they discuss the topics using the prompts we had devised? Also the room was in rows of immovable seats and we could not split them into groups.

No problem : the discussions when prompted were almost deafening!

We then each spoke for about 5 minutes :

Jo Parker gave a short summary of how librarians have changed their approach to user education, moving on to information literacy and the web, but was this enough?  Information literacy hadn't been very showy in the past, more like a female peacock rather than the full flowering male peacock. (slide).

I then took over and, disdaining Powerpoint, used 3 props. First the new edited book "Information Literacy beyond Library 2.0" which had been the starting point for the symposium (held up briefly and then thrown down on the floor...)but how to sum up some of the arguments?
Is there an elephant in the room now? Enter prop number 2 (Toy elephant) : there was an elephant in the room but it was not a single one. A better way to look at the problem of IL was to acknowledge that there was something very important around everyone's management of informatiuon : but it kept changing in its nature and no-one saw the whole elephant  : some saw the ears, some the tail, some the head.... There have been many attempts at a comprehensive term (multiliteracy, digital literacy etc etc) but perhaps the most useful way was to take a transliterate approach, which meant acknowledging overlap of literacies and that these would keep changing. Then when we came to talking to others about IL we would need to adapt our language and approach according to the discipline, level, and subject discourse and we would do well to put on a large pair of spectacles (put on a  ridiculously large pair of glasses). The existing IL frameworks had been too rigid but the new SCONUL framework promised more flexibility  and the New Curriculum for Information Literacy research by Jane Secker and Emma Coonan offered the kind of picture that that could fit the future.

Jane Secker then suggested that  information literacy should be viewed holistically as part of the learning process, and drawing on her work with Emma Coonan and the ANCIL ‘pizza’, Information Literacy should be customised and different ‘toppings’ might be more appropriate in different disciplines. However information literacy needed to be delivered embedded in the curriculum and at the point of need. She also saw information literacy as being part of helping students understand ‘the rules of the game’ and used the metaphor of chess, that by having the rules of the game explained it would not make them a grand chess master.
(For more about Jane's research see her other session at LILAC 2012.)

These little presentation created buzz so we set the participants to form informal groups off with the  first discussion point :

"If IL at your workplace was a ‘thing’ (like oup peacock or pizza) what would it be like for them?"

Then after a few minutes we asked :

 "What do you do?Share your knowledge of the frameworks you use with your group (and if you don’t use any –why not?) "

Then after a few more minutes :

"How far do the existingframeworks/statements you’vediscussed go in terms of expressing what is happening at your workplace?Any pitfalls? Gaps?"

Another few minutes and then :

"What’s our action plan?What should we be doing differently (if anything?)"
We  encouraged participants to tweet to #!Lbuzz
This took the place of reporting back from groups. As the groups which were formed varied in size, and there were so many of them, the normal report back just would not have worked. In stead we were able to go through the twitter stream.
 Here is a selection of the tweets :


 IL is for life, not just assessment time

Info centric instruction should mean success lives on, and is not just about one off assignment success

Look thro the eyes of the learner to build ur IL framework. What’s in it 4 them?U can take a learner to the 

IL fountain but can you make them drink?

 Information Literacy as a bargain-basement – the TKMaxx of education

@touchthecloud Great use of crowdsourcing IL thoughts on Twitter – thanks for making it such fun!

 Librarian as personal shopper – taking the punters to the good stuff and telling them what would look nice
on them.
My action plan for IL. 1)Think. 2) Act. 3)Reflect. 4) Refine. 5) Repeat. 6) Retire

If it’s going to be pizza it should be a calzone – all the good stuff inside

 The elephant has the glasses on – but can it see? 

 Can I be first to posit the idea of the Digital Literacy Spaghetti Bolognese framework? It’s basically just a mess…

I don’t need IL, I just need literacy, I can’t spell Duck Billed platypus! Help me….
Different experiences, different institutions. Shared resources, know more about pre-he IL, less silo-ized idea of IL

 Hearing a real need for librarians to have a database of shared resources. Pointing them to your survey @jsecker [think that’s the OER stuff]

It’s a cocktail cabinet containing a Swiss army penknife to open the wine

 Don’t be mechanistic encourage enquiring minds

Do you want a dutch one? @AnnekeDirkx Grappige sessie waarin we de resultaten van onze discussies moeten tweeten
She also said: and we think the frameworks are a little but old fashioned
        We are using acrl or sconul frameworks
        Our IL is a small and spotty ladybug, a dutch cow and a restaurant menu

It is messy. It’s a dinosaur. It should be joined up. It should be holistic, not in isolation, engaging and campus wide. 

 Our action plan: create clearer smorgasbord of tasty options to communicate what I can teach

 It’s like Mr Potato Head


So what did we conclude?

Information Literacy will continue to evolve. It should not be looked at too prescriptively. It moves about and  is messy.
 The term IL is still the best label we have, we will need to adapt our language and approach according to the discipline, level, and subject discourse.
Librarians can get excited about it even just after lunch and we have a bright future helping our everyone to construct their information universe.

Here are the slides.

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