Now we’ve got Summon we can relax while our students quickly and easily find the information they want….our work here is done……
…….or is it?
We would argue that its not.
Even though Summon makes searching easy………..we need to develop information literacy skills…….more so than ever.
To put this in context.....................
This is what libraries looked like when we were starting out in our careers as academic librarians:
Librarians were the Guardians of information.
We created indexes and catalogues, which controlled access to information through authority headings.
We organised material on shelves in a librarianly way, which was not always logical to the users e.g. Back issues of journals arranged alphabetically by word or by letter Mysterious names: Quick-ref, ref, oversize, short loan, main, special??????????????????????? E.g. University of Reading used to keep books in 3 size-based sequences called Quarto, Folio and Octavo and Dewey Nos ended with a lower case f, q, o to help students find their book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We supervised searches and only the librarian could get to the information. Especially true of early online searches which cost £1/minute and we both remember only the head Librarian having the authority to do so.
Information was often out-of-date….think expensive Quick reference Collections etc.
All in all users really needed our help to find information.
Students can go it alone.
Summon (like Google) has provided easy access to huge amounts of information.
We don’t need to show students how to use it, because its instinctive (in most cases).
Information is ubiquitous.
They can access it 24/7 and don’t need to be in the library under the watchful gaze of the librarian!
Neither academics or librarians have control of the information that they use.
Google is still an easier option than Summon? Less obstacles. Think log-in screens, Firewalls, Athens etc Google also massive international brand
But do they have the skills to find what they really need?
Do they understand the value of academic resources?
Do they use the best keywords/search terms?
Do they know how to make a value judgement about any information found?
Probably not, but its worth remembering that……
……………….“nobody except librarians want to search, everyone else just wants to find” (Tennant in Coonan, 2011)………….…….so we need to concentrate on what is really going to make a difference rather than creating “pseudo librarians” (Markless, 2009).
There are a number of myths surrounding students and information searching which we would like to consider…..
Digital Natives are different to previous generations
Young people know how to use computers so must be information literate
Students do not evaluate information….the way that we do.
New students are information literate
Digital Natives are different or are they? Digital Natives = multitaskers, have access to technology, proficient in their use, Internet is primary info source etc
As compared with Digital Immigrants= less reliant on Internet, more likely to use physical library , prefer to read from paper etc
Some people suggest a 2nd generation of DN born after 1990 who have grown up with social media
Prensky made distinction between technical and cognitive skills believing DN brains has been fundamentally changed
Others (Fieldhouse and Nicholas) assume that their language is diff and that there are implications for education process
Bennett et al question this….DIs also known as ‘Generation X’ (born between 1961-1981) used to multi-task (TV/homework), DNs don’t expect to be taught differently
MORI suggest students don’t utilise technology as much as we think
Lots of research suggest extent of Internet use, not just to do with age, other factors=socio-ec, ethnicity, gender, home environment etc
Therefore not homogenous group
Concept of DN and DI increasingly questioned……age alone cannot explain use of technology.
White and Le Cornu advocate the idea of ‘Visitors and residents’ who use Internet respectively as a ‘Tool’ to find info when appropriate and a ‘place/space’ where they can develop a digital identity and network within a community.
Prensky has also reconsidered and now talks of ‘Digital wisdom’ to distinguish between those who accept the judicous and timely use of technology to access info for decision-making and those who don’t.
Knowing how to use a computer does not mean that students are information literate
Google Generation/Digital Natives have matured in a world dominated by the Internet, they know how to use technology, so assumption is they are information literate.
Chen and Lin believe that students comfortable in a digital world are also liable to think they have the necessary skills.
Norgaard believes that we should not treat IL as a neutral set of skills
However CIBER 2008 report showed that 89% of students use search engines at start of their research and 93% are satisfied with this experience.
CIBER also showed that virtual library users spent as much time ‘finding their bearings’ as they did viewing actual search results suggesting less proficiency as previously thought.
In reality they don’t know how to use all the info judiciously, lack the critical skills.
Students do not evaluate information……CLICK TO GET QUOTE by Fieldhouse and Nicholas 2008
Palfrey and Gasser suggest that accuracy of information is not a priority to DNs except for where it affects their grades
But observation and research suggests that students do actually evaluate information in a manner appropriate to the technology and or for their particular need.
Research shows that students engage in a process of cross-checking information online (CIBER, Palfrey and Gasser) eg. Using social media such as Research Gate and Mendeley to assess the quality of information found on Google and research from USA discovered collaborative evaluation strategies, whereby students use opinions of friends, family or academics a tactic which continues into the workplace.
Information on Summon has the advantage of being from academic sources, however students still need to evaluate it to make sure it is suitable for their needs…..hence we call our 1st year workshop ‘Better than Google’
One of our students explained how he uses Summon to validate what he finds on Google. He searches Google, then cross checks on Summon. If he finds the same info on Summon, then he knows that it is OK because the librarians have checked it.
Why not use Summon in the first place, but if it works for him…….
Many students are unaware that some library resources have developed along similar lines to social media and other resources such as Amazon and Flickr. Think recommender systems, tagging, alerting services and sharing of references (Proquest Flow)
The need for students to evaluate information in isolation is reduced…….resources increasingly have mechanisms to alleviate information overload.
Asher in 2003 and Palfrey and Gasser (2008) pointed out that the problem of discerning good information from bad is an age-old problem.
We use a number of games and activities in workshops that variously encourage students to assess various items on the same subject, the appropriate use of information and an awareness of how information is created.
New students are information literate.
Recent research by Uni of Sheffield found discrepancy between expectations of aca staff and UG info skills.
Believe that skills have been learnt at school.
In reality 45% students felt unprepared for this aspect of Uni and over half wanted support and guidance (Webber et al, 2013).
Similar findings in USA
Reality is that schools spoon-feed towards exams to meet Govt targets…..teach to test.
School libraries often badly funded, no eresources, so consolidates idea that library is just a collection of books.
Academics often forget the haphazard process by which they developed their own often poor skills. They often sidestep our resources in favour of Google.
Also academics have been socialised to the norms of their discipline can use experience, networks and knowledge to identify key publication.
This network is not available to students who therefore need to get information more widely through a process of information searching.
Research from De Montfort Unifound that despite aca support for IL skills and its value to aca work, there was little effort to integrate them into the curriculum believing they will be ‘picked up’ through a process of ‘osmosis’ through ‘trial and error’.
Consequently students fail to understand the benefit of IL skills in their academic work.
IL skills outside of librarianship are often seen as about process i.e. how to search for a book on the library catalogue. And IL continues to be perceived as ancillary to the main business of the institution.
Therefore one-shot session will suffice.
IL skills need to be embedded in the curriculum and academic staff need a better understanding of what IL entails.
Based on interviews carried Feb 2015 out for our Doctorate:
We all suffer from information overload…..however…..
They think they have good information skills, although question the academic skills of some of their colleagues, despite one believing that ‘Google is the answer to their information needs’.
Academics perceive problems with the graduates of the future: Students just want to get a qualification, not here for an education….. yet we ‘need to create is open-minded and critical students’
However most don’t see the potential for librarians in developing these critical thinking skills. They have a traditional view of our role.
In addition academics don’t talk about IL. They talk about AL…..using information to make knowledge.
Many librarians themselves have a limited view of IL seeing it as just about the process of finding information, and not the bigger view that it is part of knowledge creation.
We use a range of games and activities in our workshops including getting students thinking about the quality of the information they find.
Here’s one example.
Hand out Twitter card game.
Also Reference List game if time.
Summon makes searching easier…
So yes we don’t need to teach library skills i.e. process….
But we need to teach information literacy
Summon has given us the time to do this.
More information about our games and activities on Jorum. See link above.
Our Work Here is Done
Our work here is done....
UK Summon Information Literacy Nov 2015 QMUL
The Internet is like a…….
“Giant sweetshop, in which
we behave like children,
grabbing all we can get with
less regards for quality than
Fieldhouse and Nicholas, 2008
Students do not evaluate information
• Information overload
• Information skills
• Graduate of the future
• Potential of librarians
• Info literacy/academic literacy
• Limited view
“I didn’t quite realise how little the
students knew about the Internet
until we started doing stuff together
and it’s become more and more
terrifying every single year that it’s
not getting better what they are
coming in with”
1st year Lecturer
Vanessa Hill firstname.lastname@example.org
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