It’s a combination of inspiration from UWE’s iSkillZone front page ...
... anda free image from Microsoft ClipArt (licensed for non-commercial reuse).
As a vehicle for describing and advocating for what I do and how it fits with subject learning, it replaces this – endless emails and conversations, often with the same people on different occasions, explaining that I’m not going to be talking about the library.The graphic has the immediacy and the comprehensivity that’s lacking from a simple list of “things I’d like to tell the students about”. The jigsaw format functions as a kind of subliminal advertising, especially when it’s put in contrast with my previous, very fragmented and inegalitarian provision ...
... which looked like this. I’m now working with three of these M.St. courses to create information skills support and development that’s fully integrated with students’ subject learning. I’m working with 3 pilot cohorts (at first!) and this has really highlighted the need for inclusivity – in this sense meaning not only equal provision (as in the same) but also equally subject-appropriate provision. The various courses have different learning journeys, timescales, assessment demands, and even different numbers and lengths of residential periods (!).It’s worth noting that the reason this graphic even got made was because of a great positivity and buy-in from course directors in this department to what I offer. Despite this, I was still failing to communicate the substance of what I was aiming to achieve.
The jigsaw presents what was previously prone to appearing as a linear sequence of “pick-and-choose” options in a way that shows them as interrelated, interdependent, and fully present. The implicit point, I believe, is that you can’t take or leave this; you can’t pick and choose any part of it and shoehorn it into the time available.
It’s served as a planning tool for me at the individual class level and across the whole 2-year masters journey for each cohort. I can map what I provide at each residential course onto what’s required of the students at the various assessment points and what input and expectations are shaping their learning. It also works as a means for me to cross-check that inclusivity factor: given that all three courses are getting different amounts of f2f work, are they each getting what they need from me around each aspect of the research landscape – what they need, when they need it?It’s worth pointing out that this is still the first year of the courses, so there’s lots of checking to come to make sure that the provision really IS inclusive across all three cohorts : )
And I’ve also used it in class as a way of contextualising what I’m doing, and of handing it over to the students, of being totally upfront with them and letting them manage their own learning of this whole dimension of their research experience.I didn’t think of doing this at first (to my shame) ... It was almost accidental.“I think it was much better than fine! It was excellent and essential. I think had we had this session on the first weekend we would all have been far clearer about what was expected of us and written better for both Modules 1 and 2.”“I thought your session was by far the most useful of the weekend and I only wish you'd done that for me as an undergrad!”“Delightful. Inspirational”“Absolutely brilliant. Her metaphor of 'entering a parlour' really helped me to undesrtand the academic contect - wonderful presenter. Lots of very useful tools and helpful hints - loved this”
You can make links and patterns across the pieces to help students link up the various aspects. For instance, going across each row broadly gives you clusters of aspects related to phases of research: process – store – deploy.
But going across rows makes for a rather simplistic, lateral grouping by action that I’m wary of, because it might suggest four different, discrete stages in the process. I prefer to emphasise the interrelated nature of the whole jigsaw. I’m currently working with ICE’s e-learning team to make this an online resource, and we’re looking at highlighting pieces in different pathways, to reflect the various relationships. Finding connections between different aspects – as in this slide - is a better way to help students to relate the pieces, group them and find similarities between aspects that they need to manage or just be aware of. It emphasises the interrelatedness of the pieces, while hopefully helping them to break down the research process into tasks so that if they do appreciate its size and complexity, they don’t get overwhelmed.
The rows also map loosely to ANCIL’s four learning bands. These are: key skills – subject context – advanced info handling – learning to learn. (Again, it’s important that these aren’t too rigid.)
Entirely fortuitously, the blank jigsaw template that I found had a highlighted piece. “What deserves to be highlighted?” I wondered. It could stand for the hallmarks of independent learning: critical thinking, asking questions, framing problems – and the realisation that there’s no single right answer (William Badke has expressed this transition between learning cultures as moving from ‘discipleship’ model of learning to the more independent model expected – but not necessarily explained – at higher education).Or – with dissertation-year students or postgrads – it could stand for creating and developinga research question, which deserves highlighting as it’s the anchor for all the aspects of the process, and without a strong focus it there’s an alarming tendency to drift. But it could also stand for the unpredictable ‘unknown unknowns’ that crop up during the process of doing research, including its emotional impact – stuff that can blindside you, throw a curve ball, or give you a new direction and impetus (sometimes all four - and that’s why it’s in the middle, out of order, not at the end). Finally, it also stands for the keystone of research: “never stop asking questions”.So this one question mark invites a multiplicity of learning concepts, and also embodies the threshold concept that there is a multiplicity of learning concepts.
>> All of which rather begs the question: if I wasn’t doing this before, what was I doing?Does any of you remember the Baby-Eating Bishop of Bath & Wells, from Blackadder?
His motto was “I’ll do anything to anything”. In a purely pedagogical sense, so was mine. Whatever excuse you can find, I’ll make an IL intervention to fit it. I’ll be agile and nip in to every crevice and corner you give me. Whatever shape your need is, I’ll design a session to fit. It’s a kind of back door information literacy-cum-learning development, and I thought it was a great strategy because it was agile, practical, and it got me out there with a chance to “sell” IL and LD. But I think I was undermining by my very actions the message I was selling. A little bit here, a little bit there – shaped to fit the context – runs the risk of seriously misrepresenting the fundamental nature of what we’re doing here, which is learning to learn, and more importantly, who’s active here. (It’s not me – it’s the students.) To imply in your teaching style and method that this material can be ‘dropped in’ to existing learning contexts – even if you’re saying the opposite in your classes – renders it the same as bolt-on provision. It seeks only to add to a structure. But what we are doing is seeking to help our students be transformative.There’s a word we don’t use very often in librarianship, which is AGENCY. And it’s a word I’ve grown very attached to in the past year or so in relation to information encounters.
I mentioned ANCIL’s four learning bands earlier. Here they are as part of the more complex model that attempts to represent a genuinely learner-agency-centred approach to IL. As you can see, there’s more than a hint of learning development present here too.I have a great concern that traditional models of IL deprivilege the learner. Existing information literacy models have tended to focus on 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). Paradoxically, because we want so much to set our learners on the right path, give them the right tools, show them the right places to look, we run the risk of depriving them of the power to make those information decisions themselves. Information literacy is not usually part of the mainstream academic curriculum and is often built on a deficit model in which it’s up to the student to bridge a skills gap because they’re falling short of required standards or expectations that they should have somehow developed prior to this point. [The shape sorter approach inadvertently supports this even while striving not to?]In other words, it looks as if traditional IL models have created a chasm between ‘academic’ competences or behaviours and information literacy or information skills or study skills, which are perceived as something low-level, separate and bolt-on.It’s an approach that robs the learner of agency while dumping them with all the responsibility. The ANCIL model aims to not do this. It doesn’t tell learners what to do or how to do it, but which instead assists them to develop their own independent knowledge framework and take control of and responsibility for their learning.Is this sounding familiar ... ? I think librarianship is about to have its own Ursula Wingate moment ...
The ANCIL definition of information literacy
So what is the role of the academic librarian within this model?The Gungahlin Public Library has had a shot at defining the role of the library by actually weaving this definition into the fabric of its building ...
Neil Gaiman is such a sweet man and he’s great for libraries. BUT:I don’t do right answers. That’s not what I’m here for.In the information adventure game the learner finds his or her own pathways and follows the signposts of his/her own choosing. Yes, the library may be a dark, foreboding forest; but I’m not the kindly wizard there to help you find the right path on your quest. I don’t have that knowledge. You do. That’s what I’m here for, to let learners know that.As Susie Andretta has said: “If the learner/user becomes information literate, that is, self-sufficient, then the role of the information professional is necessarily redefined as the one of facilitator of learning, rather than provider of information”. (Andretta 2005, p.2)
Neil Gaiman apparently doesn’t get that ... But Dr Seuss does : )
Of jigsaws and shape-sorters
Of jigsaws and shape-sortersVisualising common ground in integrated IL/LD provisionEmma CoonanResearch Skills & Development LibrarianCambridge University Library
• Tour of the ULCJCR• Introduction to the UL (talk)• E-journals and e-resourcesIDBE• Introduction to the UL (talk)• Critical evaluation and managing informationInternational Relations• Tour of the UL• Map Room sessionBuilding History• Introduction to the UL (talk)• Research and information skillsSustainability Leadership• Research and information skills• E-journals and e-resourcesCriminology• Research and information skills• Literature searching and managing informationConstruction EngineeringWhat does it do?