My background: Traditional subject librarian role in a University library until last year, now working at Evidence Base at Birmingham City University which is a research department within the university library. We do consultancy, research and evaluation services for library and information community, as well as organising events to train and share good practice amongst the community. My first experience of working in a library was during high school; I was a library assistant during lunchtimes, though at that time I had never considered becoming a librarian. I had always wanted to be a teacher but once I finished university, I decided that teaching wasn’t right for me at that time, but I wanted to stay within education. I started looking at librarianship, and my first experience was some voluntary work at a school in the area I had moved to. I spent a wonderful few weeks there before starting a job as a graduate trainee at the local university library. That experience shaped me, and I try to keep up-to-date on developments within school librarianship as it’s something I think is so key. Always been interested in teaching and learning – one of my favourite parts of being a subject librarian were the information literacy teaching sessions. Interested in the use of technology to support learning – e-learning, VLE etc., and different pedagogical models to support this. Much of my teaching experience was with first year students, both during their induction period and throughout their first modules. Support from librarians is embedded into some of the modules, taking the students through the research process and supporting them in their early assignments. A solid grounding of the basics beforehand can definitely be advantageous for students to ease the transition from school to university. This presentation aims to focus on Tom, a student who has successfully gained a place at university. We will go on a journey with Tom of the first few weeks of University life and see how we can help prepare him for this.
First of all we need to get into the mindset of Tom, a new student starting university. This video will give us some insight into the life of a university student today. Up to 3:39 – some say technology can save us Any particular statistics that stuck out for you? Things that stood out for me were: - Need to multitask - May have a job on graduation that currently doesn’t exist - Much of their time is spent online - The methods for learning need to change to be fit for purpose in today’s society. It is already evident that some changes are being made. During the 5 years that I was at my last institution, there was a huge shift from a majority of traditional lecture to more technology supported learning and e-learning. We even had an institutional initiative to support blended learning across the curriculum. Use of the VLE increased and is now a requirement for each module, and many lectures include hands on segments or online collaborative assignments – either with peers or with their tutor. A number of departments also encourage use of an e-portfolio system for students to record their progress throughout University.
So, how can we help prepare Tom for this sort of learning environment? The main thing librarians can do is help develop digital literacy skills. 5 minutes in groups – what does digital literacy mean to you? How can you, as librarians, support digital literacy?
Let’s take a look at what the literature says. This Wordle has been created by combining a number of different definitions of digital literacy. You can see which aspects are common by examining the larger words. You will notice many of the terms mentioned are those which have always been used in information literacy literature – the fundamental aspects of both are very similar. It is important to note the digital literacy is not just another term for information literacy however, it is the whole concept which includes information literacy, digital media and internet connectivity. It is very significant in the context of Web 2.0 – many of these tools are now being used in education. It’s not just about using the technologies though, a key quote for me is from a recent Becta report: “The heart of digital literacy skills relate to ideas (critical thinking), not keystrokes (using a computer).“ Tabetha Newman (2009) for Becta
Let’s start at the beginning of Tom’s journey – during Fresher’s Week. Tom has so much to learn and is trying to settle into a whole new chapter of his life, but the focus of the first week is his social life. He has a packed social calendar organised by the university and there are buddies who are existing students helping the new students settle in. He was put in touch with his buddy before he started and has been emailing him and chatting on Facebook. There are university groups on Facebook so Tom has begun to build a network of contacts. When he’s not out socialising, he is spending a lot of time on social networking sites getting to know people at his new university more and keeping in touch with his family and his friends from school.
How can we help him prepare for this crucial stage of university life? Tom is likely to have already been using social networking sites whilst he was at school, but does he know about how to use them responsibly? Is he aware of the privacy issues? How many of you have a school policy banning the use of social networks? Is this something the library enforces? Should be restricting access to these sites or perhaps instead teaching about responsible use? Phil Bradley certainly thinks so, and he has blogged about why social networking sites shouldn’t be blocked in schools. He also runs training courses to demonstrate how this can be achieved – for example ensuring your private data remains private (or just not including it online). Appropriate use of social networking will help students make the most of the advantages of social networking sites, whilst minimising the risk of the dangers. It is also important for students to be aware of their digital identity. What happens when you Google your name? What information can people find out about you from the web? Websites are storing more and more data about us and we need to be aware of what effect that has on our digital identity. This Is Me is a great resource from the University of Reading that has activities and worksheets about these issues, and the materials are available for re-use or adaptation. It may be useful to incorporate some of these issues into the curriculum at your school. Linked to digital identity, CommonCraft have a great video about protecting your reputation online. It demonstrates the dangers of posting embarrassing photos online – they might be funny now but would you want a potential employer stumbling across them? More and more employers are using search engines to discover more about applicants and this video is really easy to understand and gets the point across well.
So, Tom is all clued up on social networking and is settling into university life away from home, but now the real hard work starts. He is introduced to each of his modules and presented with numerous module guides available in both paper and online. These are long documents that contain a whole host of information about the modules he is studying; learning outcomes; dates and content of lectures; assignments, deadlines, and required grades; and a reading list. The reading list itself has numerous resources listed and it is separated into different sections; required and recommended reading. It contains books, articles, reports and websites.
The best way to help prepare students for this is for the school to use similar systems. Some schools may be better geared up for this but if your school currently doesn’t do any of these things, maybe it is something that you can suggest and support? How many of you have a VLE or school intranet? What sort of information is on there? Do you have module guides and resource lists that could be included? Getting students familiar with navigating an online system to get resources for their assignments will stand them in good stead for university. Some school subjects will also be taught by module, in which case the modules are likely to already have guides. Do you have copies of these to refer to in the library? Do the teachers recommend certain resources for their topics? Resource lists can be a really useful tool for school students when they are working on a project, and getting them used to having a list of resources would be excellent preparation for their reading lists. Try to include some online resources as well as the resources in the library, to get them used to working out what type of resource it is (from the information in the reference), and understanding how print and electronic resources can complement each other.
Tom is now ready to visit the library and find some of those resources from his reading list. He needs to use the catalogue to find the resources that he knows about, and then locate them on the shelves. He also needs to be able to look for resources on certain topics and browse for similar items which might also be relevant to his studies. It’s not just books that he needs to find, he’s also got to find online reports, websites, and electronic books and journal articles.
This is perhaps one of the easiest areas to help students with, as experience of the school library will help them navigate the university library. There are some great ideas for engaging students in the library, such as quizzes (either general knowledge questions using the library resources to find the answers, or quizzes about the library itself), or rewards and certificates. Whilst I was volunteering at my local school library, there was a scheme whereby students helped out in the library (which helped the librarian), and completed certain tasks such as shelving or using the circulation system to gain rewards. There was a bronze, silver and gold level and had multiple advantages; not only did it help the student develop skills in using a library, it also helped the librarian to successfully run the library. One of the most frequent questions I was asked on the enquiry desk at the university library was about how to use the catalogue. As with many library catalogues, it wasn’t as easy as using Google, and many students struggled to find what they were looking for. Experience of different searching environments such as different search engines and library catalogues (if your library doesn’t have one you can access many others online) would help develop these skills and you can turn it into an activity like a treasure hunt to make it more interesting. Another thing many new students struggle with is understanding the classification scheme, particularly when the number is long or there are a lots of books at the same number. You can get students to do activities within the library to help develop their skills, or you can use a number of online games such as the Order in the Library game which has levels of increasing difficulty in sorting items.
Tom has now been set his first assignment. He knows he will need to find some research on the topic that he has chosen to write about. He’s spent a long time in the library and has found loads of resources, but now he needs to narrow it down to those that are of most relevance. Allen (2007) in Becta report found that 14-18yr olds struggle to find relevant information and judge/evaluate the information they find. Once Tom has narrowed the resources down, he will need to pick out the relevant sections to include in his assignment.
To help with time management, Staffordshire University have developed an Assignment Survival Kit which can be used to help plan the process from initial research to submission of the assignment. The software enables you to specify a deadline and the type of assignment, and gives you rough guidance of the stages necessary and when they will need to be completed by. To help Tom narrow down his resources, he might benefit from knowledge of some more advanced search techniques. A simple task I used to use with first year students was to use one of their assignment titles, and get them to break it down into the different elements. Once they had done that they could come up with synonyms and alternative phrases relating to each of the broad areas, and finally put it back together in different search combinations. Even if he had used these search techniques, there may have been some dubious results, particularly on a web search. De Montford University have devised an Information Source Evaluation Matrix which gets students to look in more detail and ask the 5 Ws - Who? What? Where? When? Why? – about each source. This matrix is available for adaptation so may be something to use in school. When it comes to evaluating web resources, there are some great tools to help out. Phil Bradley has put together a list of spoof websites which look amazingly realistic; my personal favourite is the male pregnancy website. The Internet Detective is another great online resource which could be used within the curriculum. It is aimed at undergraduate students but many sections could be used in school. An understanding of referencing (i.e. Why it is necessary to reference sources), and what it means to plagiarise would be something that students may benefit from during their school education. It’s one of the areas students struggle with at university and causes them to lose crucial marks. You can help here by introducing your students to the fundamentals of referencing (e.g. by ensuring use of a standard referencing system on any resource lists in the school), and helping them understand why they need to reference their work. Popular examples in the news may make this more interesting – for example Madonna’s music plagiarism case and celebrity psychiatrist Dr Raj Persaud who plagiarised other’s work in a book he published and was suspended for practising for three months.
You've heard what I think, but what do other university librarians think? I asked the following question on Twitter last week and collected the responses. Some key themes emerged as shown in the following slides.
The most common theme was referencing. This is something students seem to really struggle with at university. We discussed earlier how getting students used to resource lists might help here. Does your school encourage students to cite their references? Maybe you could help by running a referencing session for one of the core subjects?
Another common theme was familiarity with using a library, in terms of resources and services. Classification schemes are a major confusion for some students, so getting them used to yours by encouraging them to browse and find resources for themselves might help. It was interesting to note the response about asking a librarian for help - it's amazing how many students don't want to ask anything in case they are interrupting or asking a silly question. Getting them used to the sorts of things librarians can help with would benefit them when they come to university.
We've discussed this, but it's likely that when they come to university, the majority of their resources will be electronic. Being able to search and evaluate resources effectively will definitely save them time when researching their assignments.
It was interesting to note some of the collaborative activities between school and universities to help prepare students for the transition to higher education. Maybe your local university library can arrange for students to visit and use resources for one of their assignments? Subject librarians can introduce students to the library and its resources. The University of Salford are currently piloting a programme whereby college students can get UCAS points for completing a course demonstrating skills such as referencing skills.
University academics will expect students to be able to find research, and critically evaluate it. Obviously students will develop these skills throughout their course at university, but a head start will definitely benefit students. Academics will also expect students to plan their time effectively including taking into account that there may be high demand for the relevant resources.
Another suggestion involved collaboration between yourselves and teachers within the school. Team teaching with librarians and lecturers is common at university level, and often very beneficial for all involved. It could be related to a particular assignment that involves research - schedule a session in the library along with the teacher if you have the facilities.
The posts on Twitter triggered some interesting discussions, including reference to two pieces of research which look at the transition between school to university; one focusing on information literacy, the other on digital literacy. The links are included in the online presentation.
Now it’s over to you. I’ve given you a few ideas of the sorts of things you could do, as school librarians, to support students in their transition from school to university. I’m sure you have probably thought of more as I’ve been talking. I’d now like to you spend a few minutes writing down 3 things that you are going to investigate or implement in your school to help improve digital literacy skills. They don’t have to be major changes, just things that you think could improve the situation and help your students. You can take these away with you, stick them on your pinboard or share them with your colleagues, and think about how you could help Tom.
All of the resources I have mentioned today (and some that I didn’t manage to fit in!) are available at http://delicious.com/tag/sch2uni . If you find any more useful resources which could help the transition, please feel free to add more using the same tag to build a useful library of resources.
How can you help tom a school librarian's guide to preparing students for university (with notes)
How can you help Tom? A school librarian's guide to preparing students for university <ul><li>Jo Alcock </li></ul><ul><li>@joeyanne </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence Base </li></ul><ul><li>Birmingham City University </li></ul>
How can you help Tom? <ul><li>Digital literacy: </li></ul><ul><li>- What is digital literacy? </li></ul><ul><li>- What digital literacy skills does Tom need? </li></ul><ul><li>- How can you support digital literacy? </li></ul>
What is digital literacy? Helen Curtis , University of Wolverhampton
Fresher’s Week <ul><li>Tom’s Experience </li></ul><ul><li>Busy social calendar </li></ul><ul><li>Making new friends and keeping in touch with old friends </li></ul><ul><li>Online social networking to supplement face to face socialising </li></ul>
How can you help? <ul><li>Responsible social networking </li></ul><ul><ul><li>School policy? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Support appropriate use (e.g. privacy ) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Digital identity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This Is Me resource </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Protecting reputation online </li></ul><ul><ul><li>CommonCraft video </li></ul></ul>
Lecture 1 <ul><li>Tom’s Experience </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple module guides to understand </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Learning outcomes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Module requirements </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Reading and resource lists to support studies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Different types of resources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Required vs. recommended reading </li></ul></ul>
How can you help? <ul><li>Using the VLE </li></ul><ul><ul><li>School VLE/intranet </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Online tools </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Familiarisation with module guides </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Copies of subject guides in the library </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Exam board specifications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In house module guides </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Using resource lists </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Topic resource lists (non-fiction, fiction, electronic) </li></ul></ul>
Visit to library <ul><li>Tom’s Experience </li></ul><ul><li>Using catalogue </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Searching for reading list items </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Browsing shelves and locating items </li></ul><ul><li>Online resources </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Finding e-books and e-journals </li></ul></ul>
How can you help? <ul><li>Library activities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Quizzes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rewards and certificates </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Searching for known items </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Using the catalogue </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Treasure hunts </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Understanding classification schemes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Order in the Library game </li></ul></ul>
First assignment <ul><li>Tom’s Experience </li></ul><ul><li>Lots of time spent finding resources </li></ul><ul><li>Needs to find a way of filtering out some of the resources </li></ul><ul><li>Need to incorporate research into assignment </li></ul>
How can you help? <ul><li>Time management </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Assignment Survival Kit </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Constructing effective searches </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Keyword activities </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Evaluating information </li></ul><ul><ul><li>5 Ws Information Source Evaluation Matrix </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Spoof websites </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Internet Detective </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Referencing and plagiarism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fundamentals of referencing </li></ul></ul>
Other research http://eprint.ncl.ac.uk/pub_details2.aspx?pub_id=55850 http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/projects/visitorsandresidents.aspx
Your homework <ul><li>3 things you are going to investigate or implement to improve digital literacy skills at your school </li></ul>
Thank you for listening <ul><li>Jo Alcock </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.joeyanne.co.uk </li></ul><ul><li>@joeyanne </li></ul>All resources available at: http://delicious.com/tag/sch2uni Images from IconFinder