This content is all user-generated; we no longer have the static web because this new Web (which is called Web 2.0) allows us a) create content in the form of blog posts, online articles, videos, podcasts, videoasts, tweets, Instant Messaging, emails etc and b) very quickly add comment/opinion. So not only do we have an information explosion causing, in many cases, an information overload, but we also have a new type of student/user of this information – perhaps one who is digitally savvy but who works in a culture of distraction – multitasking and impatient and often distracted. Does this describe any of you? How many of you blog, tweet, FB, IM, have LinkedIn accounts etc? How many of you work on portable mobile devices such as tablets and SMART phones? How many of you keep up-to-date with your research using RSS feeds?
“ …. information doesn’t seem in short supply. Precisely the opposite. We’re drowning in it. There is too much information around and we need to teach our students to make sense of it.
My concern is that even if we succeed in refining searches to find appropriate information, who addresses the necessary further task of making sense of the quality of information our smart searching has produced?
At this point, I want you to consider how important it is increasingly becoming for us to become information literate.
http://images.search.yahoo.com/ “Web 2.0” It is clear with the proliferation of Web 2.0 technologies (Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Wikis, Instant Messaging aka ‘chat’, etc) that user expectations of online activity has also changed. The experience is one that is social and interactive with self-grown information communities. This is perceived as enriching and positive. Jack M. Maness, an American librarian/academic defines Library 2.0 as “a web of multi-sensory communication. It is a matrix of dialogues, not a collection of monologues. It is user-centred Web in ways it has not been thus far”. Taking my queue from this paper (http://webology.ir/2006/v3n2/a25.html) This means a move away from the static web interface such as the online public access catalogues (OPACS) to search engines that allow users to see their tutor’s comments on the material and related material that their classmates may have borrowed a la Amazon.com (“collaborative filtering” where Amazon have developed the algorithms based on their customer data sets). Students can also write reviews, comments and create their own library community. In an article in: Knowledgable to Knowledge-able: Learning in New Media Environments &lt;http://www.academiccommons.org/commons/essay/knowledgable-knowledge-able, Accessed 15/03/09&gt;, Wesch states that:
“[Networked information] has the potential to be created, managed, read, critiqued, and organized very differently than information on paper and to take forms that we have not yet even imagined. To understand the true potentials of this “information revolution” on higher education, we need to look beyond the framework of “information.” For at the base of this “information revolution” are new ways of relating to one another, new forms of discourse, new ways of interacting, new kinds of groups, and new ways of sharing, trading, and collaborating. Wikis, blogs, tagging, social networking and other developments that fall under the “Web 2.0” buzz are especially promising in this regard because they are inspired by a spirit of interactivity, participation, and collaboration. It is this “spirit” of Web 2.0 which is important to education. The technology is secondary. This is a social revolution, not a technological one, and its most revolutionary aspect may be the ways in which it empowers us to rethink education and the teacher-student relationship in an almost limitless variety of ways”. From: Martin Wesch’s “Knowledgable to Knowledge-able: Learning in New Media Environments” &lt;http://www.academiccommons.org/commons/essay/knowledgable-knowledge-able&gt; There is clearly a case to be made for adopting Web 2.0 in developing information skills IF we put the emphasis on improved skills for searching, retrieving, evaluating and using this information. However, if we ponder the word ‘LITERACY’, then we are drawn into a more problematic assessment of reading abilities in the blogging, twittering, flickering facebooking learning landscape.
As early as 1990, Jane Healy in her book Endangered Minds: Why our Children Don’t Think (1990) argues that we are rearing a generation of “different brains”. Healy offers an analysis of right and left hemisphere brain functioning which perhaps a little too conveniently, in the context of my topic today, offers a way to explain the shift away from ‘old’ academic skills towards ‘new’ ones. New technologies speak to right-hemisphere brain functions – which are fast, playful, pick up quickly the gist of meaning and respond to visual gesturing. The right hemisphere responds to novelty. By contrast, the left hemisphere is more systematic, analyses and arranges material in careful mathematical or syntactical patterns. For sure, the ability of students to engage in sustained reading of difficult texts is diminishing. Scanning rather than reading, bite-size verbal statements rather than full texts are common behavioural characteristics in the digital landscape. I am convinced that young people come to the Internet with quite literally an inappropriate mind-set for sustained critical reading. Whereas a printed text or journal article continues to create expectations and assumptions that prompt left-brain activity, substantial, dense, online written material does not – because the brain defaults to its electronic, interactive, superficial, fast and imprecise mode of operation which is characterised by right-brain activity. So there is an obvious incompatibility. Perhaps students and researchers download and print because they are subconsciously acknowledging this difficulty? Maybe full text articles don’t do anything for the younger generation – especially those without any hyperlinks or visuals. They fail to match up to the right brain requirements and expectations of the user both by being dense and by being inert. In Marshall McLuhan’s terms, if the medium is the message, then the medium maybe all wrong for academic work? But we can’t change the clock back! My concern is an obvious one: in adapting to new kinds of technologies and the uses to which we are put, are librarians further undermining scholarship? I believe not – we don’t have a choice and have to meet our users in their comfort zones – be it a Web 2.0 zone but we need to ensure that we don’t dumb down. And how do we do this? The answer must lie in a sophisticated and ‘smart’ teaching and learning strategy – and I wish to finish by talking about a key component of such a strategy.
Against this backdrop we have the following library user perceptions: Here are some statistics from the PEW foundation and OCLC in 2003 and 2006 respectively. (PEW 2002 Report – Internet and American Life Project The PEW is an independent research organisation in the US. OCLC – Online Computer Library Centre – a nonprofit computer library research organisation. 89% of students use search engines to being an information search (while only 2% start from a library website); 93% are satisfied or very satisfied with their overall experience of using a search engine (while 84% for a librarian assisted search); Search engines fit students’ life styles better than physical or online libraries and that fit is “almost perfect”; Students still use the library, but they are using it less (and reading less) since they first began using Internet research tools; and ‘Books’ are still the primary library brand association for this group, despite massive investment in digital resources, of which students are largely unfamiliar.
Certainly, many of the students I come across in my workshops believe that Google offers a direct line to the ALL-KNOWING being. Google is the most popular search engine on the Internet. It processes several hundred million queries each day. This equates to 4 out of 5 Internet searches are done on Google which makes it a powerful player in the Internet world. In 2012 it was no. 3 in the global brand ranking table worth $107,857 Million. Google owns Blogger and YouTube. Google gets its revenue from advertising. Google wants to own the world – it has Google’s algorithms will be sure to list the sites that that pay it the highest revenue because it is a commercial enterprise, afterall! Google is a private corporation located in and working out of the USA It‘s estimated income last year was close to £3billion and the income is from online advertising Google is a money making machine which is vulnerable to political and economic pressures (remember how it caved in to pressures from the Chinese government last year?) It is also likely to take advantage of political and economic opportunities which arise. These factors compromise it’s impartiality.
Of course, we have Google Scholar – but who provides Google with our contents? How did the IOEFindit! Or ‘Available at Senate House’ appear magically at the side of the references? So librarians have taken responsibility for ensuring that the academy’s collective output can be found on Google Scholar and send Google information about our holdings – both in the Library and in the repository on a weekly basis. Why do we do this? UK HE libraries spend over £150 million annually purchasing subscriptions to a selection of academic journals. Of course, the publishers do the same so that they can charge for material found on Scholar which the Library does not subscribe to – but they neglect to tell the publisher when journal titles have changed and often researchers searching for older materials can get very frustrated – and the librarian is often there to come to their rescue. If material is not available online or the library does not subscribe to the journal, the librarian will suggest an ILL. Payment option should only be used by commercial enterprises –not for educational purposes. It is libraries that have allowed Google Books to digitise content so that a vast body of knowledge can be freely available to researchers and scholars. But although Google Scholar does provide a service – at least it collates the number of citations so that we can see the total number of cites – databases also do this! The Web of Science, ERIC, Academic Search Complete – all these do the same and libraries pay substantial amounts of monies for this online content. If anyone is interested in citation analysis for impact and/or for promotion – use Publish or Perish – as it does what Google wants plus more!
JISC (2009) http://www.jisc.ac.uk/publications/briefingpapers/2009/learningliteraciesbp.aspx Our understanding of learning literacies encompasses the range of practices that underpin effective learning in a digital age. The phrase learning literacies for a digital age expresses the tension between literacy as a generic capacity for thinking, communicating ideas and intellectual work – that universities have traditionally supported – and the digital technologies and networks which are transforming what it means to work, think, communicate and learn.
The problem is two-fold. One is socio-cultural and behavioural, while the other technical. The broader attitudinal and behavioural issues that underlie student searching present a complex picture and there are no clear cut answers to this issue. The question why, despite having paid fees to access scholarly resources, students do not access the information resources promoted by librarians and academics. One such report was published in 2008 –the JISC-BL CIBER report on the information seeking behaviour of the future researcher. Here’s a quote on students’ (i.e. The Google Generation – post 1993) use of academic E-resources: “. . . The majority of users seek information in a horizontal way and only one or two pages at most are viewed. Users ‘bounce’ out never to return. 60% of e-journal users view no more than 3 pages and 65% never return.. . Users typically spend 4-8 minutes on electronic books or journals. The report goes on to say that go on to say that many users will download and download as they may need the information sometime but there is little evidence of this information being read, digested, critically evaluated or used to create new knowledge. In other words, very little assimilation or deep learning takes place. The report further states, “ Younger users are turning away from libraries and electronic resources in droves because they do not provide the same experience and accessibility as the digital environments this generation of users are surrounded by: 24/7 access, instant gratification at a click, they click and scan and ‘power browse’ their way through digital content without any thought to what they are looking for and/or reading”. Technical Issues have more to do with software platforms that these e-resources sit on. User expectations, especially those of the Google Generation have changed. We are therefore more aware of the limitations of the different systems that abound in the academic arena – different database suppliers use different search features, visual screen cues and features. There is no standard. The lack of a standard suggests that federated search engines that look search for keywords in multiple databases (simultaneously) do not come up with accurate search results. Links may be broken or field names can vary between database and/or database constructs are different. Access to resources is governed by subscription and the extra step in authenticating – especially if the institution requires more than one username and password for different systems - is off-putting Sometimes access is only available from within the institution – for IP resources; other database vendors will only allow single user access; others will want users to register before allowing access to a subscribed resource; others will provide their own usernames and password (e.g. lynda.com). User expectations need to be managed – they start expecting all resources to be available as full-text and may ignore other more useful references. I have simplified the technical issues to give you a sense of what the problem areas are. So, where does Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 come into all this?
Tara Brabazon, in her provocatively titled book “The University of Google” (Ashgate, 2007) states that “Only when our aim is the building of knowledge, not the gathering of data, may we move forward. . . .The goal is to transform a fetish for information into a desire for argument, debate and knowledge”. (p. 12).
A key component for a 21st century teaching and learning strategy must be systematic and routine collaborative work between academic teachers and librarians. Together it must be possible for us to harness the very considerable powers of Web 2.0 AND to protect students from its worst excesses which can lead to the undermining rather than the enhancement of scholarship.
Let us take a specific case: the full text e-journal article. 1. First , let us assume that librarian and academic have decided on the value for students in accessing e-journals for a specific module. 2. Secondly, let us assume that Web 2.0 technologies are being employed to maximise access to specialist e-journals – and that these are radically improving the search experience. Thirdly, let us assume the librarian is running workshops in how to use the university’s information portal and access these resources and in the process is also directly addressing the issue of transforming “a fetish for information into a desire for argument, debate and knowledge.” Fourthly, let us assume that the academic in turn will put in place a set of incentives for students to access e-journals (such as making it clear that searching, retrieving and using e-journal articles contributes to their grade for the assignment in question).
With all this working, I must still ask one question that will not leave me. Who teaches the student how to read the demanding full text article in a manner that ensures not just comprehension, but critical engagement? In other words academics and librarians can work together successfully to improve information literacy skills, but who addresses the underlying literacy skills gap?
Do we side-step it, by providing props and crutches for students. Do academics make a difficult full text article more ‘accessible’ by simplifying it and turning it into consumable ‘bits’ such as bullet points? And does the librarian then work with the academic to make available the ‘accessible’ material through ever more innovative applications of new technology, such as mobile devices? It is a model not a million miles away from the one beginning to be advocated by some HE institutions to its undergraduate students. These are questions that you need to consider when you incorporate ICT in your modules and design courses. However, consider the following very carefully .... Next slide (Collaboration)
http://images.search.yahoo.com “Collaboration” We need to have a shared vision for Information Literacy among all university stakeholders: managers, academics, students; to have a step-by-step approach that ensures students are completely aligned to academic learning.
Lobbying for change is important – and from my point of view this includes events like today’s in which I am able to initiate discussion with academic staff and with students. The work of the librarian is both to improve access to information and, ironically, to find ways to manage and contain information:
Beyond Google: Learning Literacies in a Web 2.0 World
Challenges and Opportunities for Teaching &
Learning Literacies in a Web 2.0 World
Research Support & Special Collections Librarian
Newsam Library & Archives
• The ‘Information Revolution’ and Google
• Working in a ‘Culture of Distraction’ in a Web 2.0 world
• Understanding online user behaviour
• Understanding the ‘literacies’ issue; and
• The Google issue and the promotion of scholarly resources
• Advocacy and the need to work collaboratively with librarians
The ‘Information Revolution’
Every 60 seconds:
•70+ new domains are registered
•600+ new videos are uploaded to YouTube
•1500+ blog posts are published
•60+ new blog sites go up
•168 million emails are sent
•690,000+ search queries are placed
•695,000 status updates are posted to FB
•125+ plugins and 50+ downloads via WdPs
•1 new article is published (50M+ in total)
•100+ new LinkedIn accounts are created
•320+ new Twitter accounts
•81 iPads are sold
•710 computers are sold
•11 million conversations on IM
50 Million Minds Diverted, Distracted, Devoured
By Bryan Appleyard, “Stoooopid .... why the Google
generation isn’t as smart as it thinks. The digital age is
destroying us by ruining our ability to concentrate”
The Sunday Times, July 20, 2008:
“Mark Bauerlein, professor of English at Emory
University in Atlanta, has just written The Dumbest
Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young
Americans and Jeopardises Our Future. He portrays
a bibliophobic generation of teens, incapable of
sustaining concentration long enough to read a book”.
Library User Perceptions
• 61 of Internet users perceive the Internet as a library. Many users
think that resources on offer via Google Scholar are not available
from the university library.
• 89% of students use search engines to being their information
search (while only 2% start from a library).
• 93% are satisfied with their overall experience of using a search
• Search engines fit students’ lifestyles better than physical or online
libraries and that fit is ‘almost perfect’
• Students still use the library, but they are using it less (and reading
less) since they first began using Internet research tools; and
• ‘Books’ are still the primary library brand association for this group,
despite massive investment in digital resources, of which students
are largely unfamiliar.
Is Google God?
“If I can operate Google, I can find anything . . .
Google, combined with Wi-Fi, is a little bit like
God. God is wireless. God is everywhere and God
sees and knows everything. . . . Now, for many
questions in the world, you ask Google, and
increasingly, you can do it without wires, too”.
Alan Cohen , Vice President Airespace
New York Times 29th
Learning literacies for a
Our understanding of learning literacies encompasses
the range of practices that underpin effective
learning in a digital age. The phrase learning
literacies for a digital age expresses the tension
between literacy as a generic capacity for thinking,
communicating ideas and intellectual work – that
universities have traditionally supported – and the
digital technologies and networks which are
transforming what it means to work, think,
communicate and learn.
The ‘Literacies’ issue
What is the problem?
• What literacy skills do our students have and what
are they lacking?
• What are the other skills they need to work in an
• How do we encourage students to be more
discerning of what they find on the Internet?
• How do we get students to use the quality resources
that are provided by libraries?
• How do we best utilise the support provided by
librarians and archivists?
Tara Brabazon The University of
•Writing Centre staff