Librarians as teachers: Rethinking information literacy - collaboration, co-ordination, consolidation

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  • Jane
  • Collaborate (with the student): The teaching style must support the evolution of independent learning, so it can’t be prescriptive or mandate certain ‘right answers’ or ‘right ways to use information’. It’s the student who must be able to choose what constitutes the most appropriate information to use in a particular context, and the best way to use it, which means that as one expert says, “Rather than focusing on resources, IL instruction should be focusing on habits of mind” (Expert Report).Co-ordinate (across departments and services in a joined-up way): In the higher education context, information literacy is developed over the whole course of the study career, so there must be an ongoing, modular ‘chunked’ approach. Consolidate - With this realisation we can see that outside the library world, elsewhere in academia and in lifelong learning, information literacy has other names, which include independent learning; critical thought; scholarly rigour; even scientific method. (> Possibility of rehabilitating IL?)  We want tohelp you to re-think and resituate information literacy in Higher Education. The term has been used now (on and off) since the 1970s – but do we all mean the same thing by it? Do we have a shared vision? And does our practice reflect our vision? Have we conveyed this effectively to others outside the library world? Emma and I developed A New Curriculum for Information Literacy (ANCIL) back in 2011, and after doing our research we felt IL deserves to be a major part of the educational mission. This meant we needed to clarify what it means, who responsibility it is, where it sits in a university. ANCIL was developed as a framework for UG students, but we hope that it is a new way of thinking about IL more broadly.  
  • Librarians as teachers is the theme of today’s conference and in my mind this means IL. And by IL we DON’T mean:library instructionuser educationbibliographic trainingWe mean IL in the sense that UNESCO mean IL, we mean the ANCIL definition. We need to be rethinking IL with a broader definition, but also in a way that is learner centred. IL is not a pre-defined set of competencies and while these can be useful they are artificial. They reduce IL to a set of tick boxes. They imply it is something that has a pre-defined level that once achieved it dealt with, rather than it being an on-going iterative process.The longer you teach IL, the more you find yourself wondering if you CAN teach IL – it’s a way of thinking
  • Librarians as teachers is the theme of today’s conference and in my mind this means IL. And by IL we DON’T mean:library instructionuser educationbibliographic trainingWe mean IL in the sense that UNESCO mean IL, we mean the ANCIL definition. We need to be rethinking IL with a broader definition, but also in a way that is learner centred. IL is not a pre-defined set of competencies and while these can be useful they are artificial. They reduce IL to a set of tick boxes. They imply it is something that has a pre-defined level that once achieved it dealt with, rather than it being an on-going iterative process.The longer you teach IL, the more you find yourself wondering if you CAN teach IL – it’s a way of thinking
  • Librarians as teachers is the theme of today’s conference and in my mind this means IL. And by IL we DON’T mean:library instructionuser educationbibliographic trainingWe mean IL in the sense that UNESCO mean IL, we mean the ANCIL definition. We need to be rethinking IL with a broader definition, but also in a way that is learner centred. IL is not a pre-defined set of competencies and while these can be useful they are artificial. They reduce IL to a set of tick boxes. They imply it is something that has a pre-defined level that once achieved it dealt with, rather than it being an on-going iterative process.The longer you teach IL, the more you find yourself wondering if you CAN teach IL – it’s a way of thinking
  • Librarians as teachers is the theme of today’s conference and in my mind this means IL. And by IL we DON’T mean:library instructionuser educationbibliographic trainingWe mean IL in the sense that UNESCO mean IL, we mean the ANCIL definition. We need to be rethinking IL with a broader definition, but also in a way that is learner centred. IL is not a pre-defined set of competencies and while these can be useful they are artificial. They reduce IL to a set of tick boxes. They imply it is something that has a pre-defined level that once achieved it dealt with, rather than it being an on-going iterative process.The longer you teach IL, the more you find yourself wondering if you CAN teach IL – it’s a way of thinking
  • And what about other literacies? We hear a lot of discussion about the importance of digital literacies. The use of information is so critical that it relates to a whole set of other literacies. It is not to say that information literacy overarches these terms, but many of these learning literacies have information at their heart and so information literacy is central to any learning literacy framework. But on digital literacy, we believe strongly that digital literacy falls within IL, not the other way around – despite perceptions we encountered. Recently at an event organised by the Society for Research in Higher Education we came across this opinion and when you encounter the view that DL contains IL, it’s because the speaker has a narrow perception of what the “information” in IL means – that is it is just published literature (i.e. stuff in the library). And possibly also because of narrow perceptions around what librarians do – and what the library does or should do (our mission).
  • We really mean is integrating Thus, IL is about changing the curriculum = challenging!But ANCIL is not a framework to sit alongside the curriculum, it is not 10 sessions that can run in parallel to the curriculum. It is something to be ‘integrated’ into teaching. We have talked in the library world for a long time about ‘embedding’ IL in the curriculum – I was would argue we need to be integrating – which is subtly different. And may mean less direct teaching of students, but more planning and support with academic staff, so they can teach this stuff. The immediate connotation of the term ‘embedding’ is placement and addition. While present in the curriculum, it is neither integral nor integrated. It is there as an add-on and can possibly be done without.Meanwhile the term ‘integrating’, suggests that IL is an integral part of teaching and learning that is integrated in the curriculum.  [Rooney & Ulanicka presentation]Ultimately we are talking about the need for curriculum change.
  • There are some perceptions around IL – in the library world and outside that we need to challenge. Librarians may be guilty of thinking IL is Going to save us NOR Is it necessarily understood by other support staff or by teachersBut also: IL doesn’t belong to us (it’s not appropriate to see it as ‘the saviour of the library’ in a digital era). As Katy Wrathall has said “Ownership if a flawed concept”. Clare McCluskey’s research in LIR explored how to build partnerships to explore librarians as full partners in higher education, not just providers of services. This builds on earlier work by Claire McGuiness who had found most interactions between faculty and librarians were of the functional service provider nature.Faculty perceptions of IL McGuinness article back in 2006 : faculty perceptions – its related to student motivation, they will pick it up over time, they (the faculty) are already doing it, they pick it up from fellow students] We need to establish common ground and have a collective vision of the kind that could be achieved through a strategic framework like ANCIL (it’s happening at LSE, Derby, Worcs, YSJ … all in line with each institution’s particular needs.) Building partnerships is all about having a better understanding of what we each do.
  • Through carrying out these audits at LSE so interesting notions around the perception of librarians emerged. So for instance … what stops faculty from taking us seriously as teacher?It’s not perceptions of capability but of credibilityThe perception problem is because of a complex legacy assumption that “librarians look after books”. They may do other things as well, but our primary role is to tend the stuff. So every time you teach a session they think you’re doing them a special favour! They think they’re taking you away from your “real job” which is doing stuff with books.You say IL (or, you talk about your teaching or your provision or your support) -- what do faculty colleagues hear? …IL = finding books and journal articlesIL= library toursIL = ICT support Think about the preconceived ideas from staff about what your session IL teaching will cover. Does this convey the breadth of information literacy as defined by ANCIL?E.g. Sarah Faye Cohen [excellent blog posts on ‘starting with the WHY of study and research’] – but when she was being introduced her faculty colleague said “Sarah is going to tell you about the library now”.(Rhetorical question: how many of you even use the word ‘library’ when you teach? Or do you find yourself talking about ‘information’ instead in a broader way?)
  • Andon the capability side – part of the issue is NOT being seen as a teacher, but part of the issue is not having the confidence of qualifications to be a teacher when we enter the profession. So in many cases we are seeking qualifications on entering a professional post, when it becomes apparent we need to teach. So quick straw poll – can I ask how many people in the room have a formal teaching qualification? How many of you are studying for one at the moment? I think it is worth noting that few if any library and information courses in the UK have a core teaching component. Every course has a core module on library management, even though most librarians won’t need it until they get to management level in about 20 years. But why not teach something every librarian will need as soon as they walk into the job? And it’s not just about the practical side of teaching, it’s about understanding learning.And finally, on teacher training, in the future we may be spending far less time teaching students and more time teaching academics about information literacy, so they can teach students IL. I think it’s vital that we integrate information literacy into our educational qualifications (PGCEs etc.) as a priority.
  • Picking up on the point that what we do isn’t just about teaching but about understanding learning ... Let’s think for a minute about what it is we do, and how we construct our practice as teachers. What is the nature of the learning that’s taking place in higher and further education?Teaching/learning (transitive)If all learners construct it differently – make sense of it uniquely, then as Jane said when we were planning this talk, “There are many, many routes to information literacy”. I am not in the ‘right answer business’ – as far as Im’ concerned, I’m in the business of helping students and researchers to ask better questions. Because research – and HE – isn’t actually about finding solutions, stopping thinking, fixing the knowledge structure for all time. It’s about going further, trying new stuff, questioning our existing structures – not just standing up high on the shoulders of giants, but about seeing further because you’re up there.So what happens if we stop for a moment striving to find a common, universal or singular definition for IL? What happens instead if we deliberately pluralise it, problematise or unpack it?If you think back to the ANCIL one, we noticed recently that it’s not actually a definition – it’s a statement of value.Paradoxically I think exploring all the different ways – suspending for a moment our human urge to fix and define the concept, to put it in a box with a label, will actually allow us to better achieve those things that we want for IL – to collaborate, coordinate, consolidate.
  • As Jane mentioned, at a recent SRHE event many of the audience (HE teachers, educational researchers, digital literacy facilitators, and more) seemed to feel that ‘information literacy’ only referred to the procedure of finding published academic information such as citations and abstracts, books and articles, bibliographic metadata. Knowledge production – what goes on inside people’s heads – didn’t come into their view of IL at all: it was purely based on objects or artefacts. Their view didn’t include research data, or having to manage your own notes and ideas, or those 3 o’clock in the morning “Ahaaa!” moments when you make a connection – when you synthesise disparate ideas and bring them together in a meaningful way. As far as they were concerned, information literacy is about finding stuff – not managing it, using it, questioning it, picking it up and shaking it, synthesising it ... Banging it together to make sparks. That’s what research is all about. And if educational researchers think that that’s [board] what IL is all about – finding published artefacts – or someone telling you the right answer - no wonder they don’t see much connection with research. So how are we going to change their minds? What else might information literacy connote, if we start unpacking it, problematising it, getting away from a single, fixed definition that closes us down? Well, what if information literacy isn’t a thing – what if it’s a process?
  • A process of empowerment?
  • A manifestation of agency – the ability to act independently, autonomously? Here being empowered is not just to do with access to information – it goes beyond that and into what people do with it, or to it, or through it.
  • How about a basic human right?!That’s what UNESCO says information literacy is! In evaluating, judging, producing and using information, you make your voice heard, you make a difference. This isn’t about writing essays – it’s about lifelong learning, about social uses of information, about understanding power and how it’s used. But it includes precisely what higher education is supposed to produce: a judicious and informed individual capable of creative, holistic, and critical thinking.
  • So how we teach – or how we help the development of information literacy values and behaviours in our learners in higher education - supports the emergence of that judicious, informed individual, that empowered citizen, that agent – that person who acts. Process, not thing. Or is it?With that in mind, now I want to talk about another C word – the idea of acontinuum or spectrum of information literacy teaching.Materials provision vs. agency – a continuumHow much of what you do is about organising what’s out there (published) and how much is about what’s in there (head) and still taking shape? It’s not going to be one or the other, is it. So where on that spectrum does your teaching fall ... Both in terms of theories espoused – the framework you adhere to, the values that guide you – and also in how your practice manifests. Because it’s not going to be the same thing! But more importantly, and less obviously, than that:All our teaching, both theories espoused and theories in practice, is situated in a wider institutional context which itself has already constituted the student’s experience of education. Our interactions with them are shaped by these touchpoints with the institution and by the values that underlie what they encounter. So as well as thinking about your own practice and embodiment of values – where you’d put yourself on the continuum – ask yourself as well what’s your library’s place on the continuum, your institution’s values, your vice chancellor – and what impact does that have on your practice?Should libraries be trying to provide allthestuff, and support students in developing critical, evaluative and analytical abilities in order to encounter and use information? Or should libraries be only offering quality, reliable stuff - preselected so that it's guaranteed to be relevant and useful? There's no single, simple answer to this on where libraries should stand. But where do you, personally, stand? And where do your colleagues and your senior management team and the University administration and the Vice Chancellor stand? How they see the mission of the library directly affects the academic ecosystem in which you are trying to carve out, or fit in to, the role of being a teaching librarian.It doesn’t help that existing information literacy models have tended to create definitions based on the belief that there can be universal competency standards, outlining a ‘right’ way of searching and outputting information, as though we can ‘sign off’ students once and for all when they reach the required standard (which happens once and for all).
  • As against competency standards, and or a ‘right’ way approach where the agency lies with the teacher, how would a learner-focused vision of IL look? Hepworth & Walton’s definition of information literacy is a matter of an individual completing a task in a given context, involving an interplay of behavioural, cognitive, metacognitive and affective states. It’s a triangle: the information, the context, and the person. It’s highly situational. It’s all about the person who is engaged in doing a task within a particular context. Within the parameters of that context, to achieve success in the task at hand, maybe Wikipedia’s the right source. Maybe Google is a better source of the particular information for this situation than the library. It’s not up to us to make that decision on behalf of the learner. But maybe it’s up to us to scaffold the learner in getting to the stage where they can act in an informed way?(As a side note .. this is what I think I do – it’s my own “theory espoused”. Deeply informed by constructivist pedagogy and by But get me in front of a class and you can’t shut me up ... )
  • INFORMATION AS ENCOUNTER/EVENT – it’s about knowledge creation.Suddenly IL starts to sound not like a separate competency or a nice afterthought but like the critical faculty itself, the ability not just to problem solve but also to problem frame (Schon), like the faculty that enables knowledge production not merely knowledge assimilation - the mission of higher education itself which is notoriously definable only in broad abstract terms. Postman has called it the art of crap detection.
  • Or you could call it ‘critical and holistic thinking’ which is what one of the experts we interviewed for the ANCIL research did.And I think we’ve misunderstood the role that information literacy plays in the learning process. We’ve tried to put it into one of these boxes as “knowledge to be acquired”, a thing that needs to be learned, instead of perceiving that the individual’s relationship with information in a given context is what enables learning to take place.If you accept this view of IL – and I’m not saying you have to; it’s simply an invitation! – then again, what does this mean for our practice:In terms of what we believe as teachers in terms of how we embody and perform what we believe during our interactions with learners in terms of how our institutions see and shape what we do and what we believe.Which brings us right back to whether we’re here to give answers or to help prompt questions and frame problems.
  • Personally:I am not in the ‘right answer business’!Ifinformation is an adventure game learners have to find their own pathwaysand follow the signposts of their own choosing. Yes, the library may be a dark, foreboding forest; but I’m not Gandalf. I’m not the one who knows where the path lies for your quest. I don’t have that knowledge. You do. That’s what I’m here for, to let learners know that.
  • Neil Gaiman, bless him, doesn’t get that. But Susie Andretta does ...
  • And so does Dr Seuss : )
  • (Emma?)So, after all that ... Where are we going?Thinking about how YOU situate yourself as a teacher, how will educational trends like open education and MOOcs impact your thinking as well as your teaching?Are MOOCs even an educational trend, or are they an information trend? Should we think about them as access to knowledge, or just access to information? Where do they sit with YOUR teaching and your ‘theories espoused’? If you see constructivism, facilitation of learning, scaffolding and reflective development as part of what you do as a teaching librarian, how will you extend that component to 40,000 students? Maybe you don’t see it that way – think about the continuum we talked about earlier. Maybe you do see the mission of the library above all to provide access to quality material – in which case perhaps a MOOC is a library!
  • (Jane?)Laurillardwas talking about rethinking university teaching and the impact of new technologies back in the early noughties. However, I think this quote remains relevant today – and more so in the era of the MOOC. When we are asking ourselves, what role is there for face to face teaching? What role if there for libraries and librarians?(Full disclosure … for us it’s a case of “Access without support is not opportunity”In the future – it’s not just about us getting the qualifications but about using them, teaching others how to teach. We can’t offer a prescriptive curriculum because we’re talking about behaviours - attitudes and values that are so tied up with learning that it has to be aligned with the curriculum (Biggs) >> our blue sky definition, “intertwined” There are many ways to facilitate this development whether you call it critical inquiry, information literacy, a reflective approach, learner autonomy – these are all ways of describing the same elusive thing, which is again the mission of higher education. It’s a way of thinking about and approaching information, it’s not a set of defined actions or competencies!It’s a wider educational and social enterprise … Ultimately this is not just about rethinking information literacy, but in the process, also rethinking higher education!
  • Librarians as teachers: Rethinking information literacy - collaboration, co-ordination, consolidation

    1. 1. Rethinking information literacy:Collaboration, co-ordination, consolidationJane Secker and Emma CoonanLibrarians as Teachers, 13th June 2013Image: Kevin Dooley, flickr.com CC BY-NC 2.0
    2. 2. Rethinking Information LiteracyCollaborate Coordinate Consolidate
    3. 3. Librarians as teachers ... We are talking aboutinformation literacy(IL) But what do wemean?
    4. 4. Librarians as teachers ... We are talking aboutinformation literacy(IL) But what do wemean? Library instruction
    5. 5. Librarians as teachers ... We are talking aboutinformation literacy(IL) But what do wemean? Library instruction User education
    6. 6. Librarians as teachers ... We are talking aboutinformation literacy(IL) But what do wemean? Library instruction User education Bibliographictraining
    7. 7. Information literacy is a continuum of skills,behaviours, approaches and values that is so deeplyentwined with the uses of information as to be afundamental element of learning, scholarship andresearch.It is the defining characteristic of the discerningscholar, the informed and judicious citizen, and theautonomous learner.(ANCIL definition of information literacy, 2011)
    8. 8. The literacy landscape
    9. 9. ANCIL: Rethinking ILSecker & Coonan (2011)
    10. 10. CareersLanguage CentreTeaching & Learning CentreLanguage CentreLSE100DepartmentsLibraryLibraryLibraryLibraryLibraryCentre for LearningTechnologyDepartmentsLSE100Teaching & LearningCentreDepartmentsLanguage CentreLibraryTeaching & Learning CentreDepartmentsLanguage CentreLanguage CentreTeaching & Learning CentreCareersDepartmentsLSE100ANCIL in practiceSecker & Coonan (2011)
    11. 11. Embedding vs integrating?“The immediate connotation of the term‘embedding’ is placement and addition. Whilepresent in the [curriculum] it is neither integralnor integrated. It is there as an add-on and canpossibly be done without.”(Victor Lim Fei, 2012)
    12. 12. Joining up support
    13. 13. Challenging perceptions of IL“… if the teachers, whether they’re school oruniversity teachers, don’t have the same viewof IL that we do, it’s always going to be[about] the skills. And the skills are fine butanybody can teach the skills; it’s teaching thechanging attitude and the different approachthat I think has to come from the teachers.”(ANCIL Expert Consultation Report, 2011)
    14. 14. Credibility and capability
    15. 15. Qualifications and staff development
    16. 16. Image credit: Gungahlin Public Library(reproduced by permission of Libraries ACT)Image © Gungahlin Public Library(reproduced by permission of Libraries ACT)
    17. 17. “... within IL standards information is usuallytreated as an object to be located and used bythe individual.”(Spiranec & Zorica, 2012)
    18. 18. “Being able to use different ways of findinginformation and being able to judge whetherthe information is trustworthy or accurate isvital: it opens up choices, empowers us and cangive us more confidence.”(Welsh Information Literacy Project, 2011)
    19. 19. Learners can “extend their investigations,become more self-directed, and assumegreater control over their own learning”(ACRL, 2000)
    20. 20. “Information literacy .... empowers people in allwalks of life to seek, evaluate, use and createinformation effectively to achieve theirpersonal, social, occupational and educationalgoals. It is a basic human right ... ”(UNESCO, 2005)
    21. 21. ‘Victorian mindmapped man’ by LukePDQ, flickr.com CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
    22. 22. “What I work with is the information that’sstill inside people’s heads, that’s not yetstructured or fully articulated, that’s the resultof the creative encounter between anindividual and a learning context.”(The Mongoose Librarian, 2013)
    23. 23. “ ... the main gap I am finding is with regards tocritical and holistic thinking. There seems to bea teach‐to‐test culture which focuses oncircumscribing knowledge into manageableboxes ... ”(ANCIL Expert Consultation Report, 2011)
    24. 24. Image credit: Gungahlin Public Library(reproduced by permission of Libraries ACT)Image © Gungahlin Public Library(reproduced by permission of Libraries ACT)
    25. 25. “If the learner/user becomes informationliterate, that is, self-sufficient, then the role ofthe information professional is necessarilyredefined as the one of facilitator of learning,rather than provider of information.”(Andretta, 2005)
    26. 26. Image credit: Gungahlin Public Library(reproduced by permission of Libraries ACT)Image © Gungahlin Public Library(reproduced by permission of Libraries ACT)
    27. 27. “It is as absurd to try and solve theproblems of education by giving peopleaccess to information as it would be tosolve the housing problem by giving peopleaccess to bricks.”(Diana Laurillard, 2002)
    28. 28. Thank you!j.secker@lse.ac.uk / @jseckeremc35@cam.ac.uk / @LibGoddesshttp://newcurriculum.wordpress.com

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