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Information literacy and professional development: a critical view. Whitworth

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Presented at LILAC 2008

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Information literacy and professional development: a critical view. Whitworth

  1. 1. Information literacy and professional development LILAC, March 2008 Information literacy and professional development: a critical view Andrew Whitworth University of Manchester March 2008
  2. 2. Information literacy and professional development LILAC, March 2008 Professional development in HEIs • Why should IL form a part of this? • What are the consequences if IL and PD remain separated?
  3. 3. Information literacy and professional development LILAC, March 2008 Summary of argument • Key themes developed from critical theory: – The colonisation of the lifeworld – The ceding of cognition to organisations and technologies – Activity theory: describing a sociotechnical system – Critical social science: Information literacy as communicative competence • Information literacy and professional development as embedded in one another • Accepting the challenge: a research and action agenda
  4. 4. Information literacy and professional development LILAC, March 2008 The colonisation of the lifeworld Critical theory of Jurgen Habermas  (see also Forester, 1985) Instrumental rationality Communicative rationality Strategic, control-oriented Consensual, understanding-oriented Disempowering Enabling, creative Dehumanising, alienating Collective, fulfilling potential Passive acceptance Active critique Positivist, objective Critical, intersubjective People as clients, consumers People as citizens, active employees The lifeworld: the stock of human knowledge and understanding, produced and reproduced by communication
  5. 5. Information literacy and professional development LILAC, March 2008 Educational organisations and design Strategic apex Professional core The work of the professional core is increasingly managed through the application of a technostructure Technostructures are those aspects of organisations which design work processes via strategic, instrumental principles (Mintzberg 1989) ICT plays a significant role in this process – how we process and communicate information is subject to design and management
  6. 6. Information literacy and professional development LILAC, March 2008 Beneath conscious awareness… Activity Theory is a useful way of conceiving of how sociotechnical systems are both designed, and then evolve Information technologies, and information processing systems, work on course teams “from above”… and are worked on “from below” Activity  Task  Action  Operation  Function Block Once we reach the level of operation, things become routinised, unconscious – we cannot attend to what is familiar
  7. 7. Information literacy and professional development LILAC, March 2008 Organisations and meaning The organisation is not a “neutral space” in which individuals and communities are free to create meaning Organisations are shot through with power relations… different subcultures experience matters differently on each side of these divides Organisations “push” certain cognitive schema at their members (Blaug 2007); this is partly the purpose of design
  8. 8. Information literacy and professional development LILAC, March 2008 But why should we care? Is academic autonomy better consigned to history? How can we keep up with the rapid changes required in an ICT- heavy organisation? Yet these processes are essential if the organisation is to learn Mavin & Cavaleri (2004): “The HEI is the last place you will find organisational learning!”… but: Argyris, Senge – a failure to question basic and taken-for-granted assumptions may lead an organisation into a damaging feedback loop…
  9. 9. Information literacy and professional development LILAC, March 2008 A critical social scientific view of information literacy See Whitworth (2007)… Positivist… “ICT skills” Achieving mastery over information Technique, training Interpretivist… More understanding- oriented… ACRL definitions? Individualised But subjective? Relativist? Critical! Change-oriented Community-based Self-reflective, self- critical Educational
  10. 10. Information literacy and professional development LILAC, March 2008 IL for all stakeholders! IL = Learning about information – the way it changes roles, rules, tools… having a critical awareness of policy, systems design, etc. Note point #3 of ACRL definition – “evaluate critically”… Retain creativity and double-loop learning – rather than letting organisations and technologies do our thinking for us Better for us – better for our employers!
  11. 11. Information literacy and professional development LILAC, March 2008 An agenda for action • IL is critical – so will face challenges • As well as embedding in professional development process… • … it will help to develop a dialogue with other stakeholders in HE (incl. students, parents, ICT developers...) • If we can link this to the quality agenda however (also issues like plagiarism…) – there should be hope!
  12. 12. Information literacy and professional development LILAC, March 2008 Thank you • andrew.whitworth@manchester.ac.uk

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