Information literacy 2.0: experts or expats?


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This presentation (rescued from the archives) was presented at the 2007 School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa Conference. It challenges library staff to reconsider their role in information literacy and how to ensure students and teachers are equipped to navigate the new information landscape. It asks for experts in contemporary information literacy issues, such as online identity, digital rights, social networking, personalisation and collaborative content, rather then expatriates continuing to do things as they did in ‘the old country’?

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  • Information literacy experts: Library staff role statements often include as a key responsibility the development of information literacy programmes or of an information literate school community. The library profession’s advocacy materials make statements like “Librarians are recognised as information experts and key players in the education process who teach others how to navigate a rich and complex, evolving information/technology environment” [1] and “library staff have information literacy expertise and work collaboratively with all teaching staff in the information literacy programme.” [2] [1] Australian Library and Information Association, 2003. A library advocate’s guide to building information literate communities [2] The School library and learning in the information landscape: Guidelines for New Zealand schools 2002, Ministry of Education and National Library of New Zealand, Wellington, p.48. Expats = expatriates, ie citizens who are resident in another country. Sometimes used in the context of people who invest much energy in continuing to do things like they did in ‘the old country’. SLANZA: School Library Association of New Zealand Aoteoroa
  • How would you rank these 7 components of your role if you were presented with this very cut down version of a survey tool? What do you see as the top ways the school library helps students… Please rank 1 - 7
  • Lyn Hay’s research in Australian school libraries Hay L 2005 Student Learning Through Australian School Libraries Research Project – 2004-2005 Students in Years 5 – 12 in Victoria and Queensland in schools identified as exemplary examples of school library programmes, ranked school library help involving computer and internet use as the most important form of help in supporting their learning. Note the significant discrepancies between what students experience as helpful about the library and what teachers and teacher librarians rated as priorities.
  • Commentators highlight other emerging differences in 21 st century learners Dziuban, C 2006 “Ensuring the net generation is net savvy” Combes, B 2005 states that “We assume that our students have the skills to manage what is a very complex information environment. This is often not the case. The information literate person is successful and able to participate in a process of lifelong learning because they have a skills set that is constantly evolving and much broader than the skills outlined in most information process models .” Combes, B 2005 “Starting at the beginning: a conversation about information literacy” Connections 54 McCrindle Mark 200? Engaging with 21st Century Graduates ACRL Standards Information Literacy in the 21st Century includes this important statement, “The information literate student understands many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and accesses and uses information ethically and legally.” OCLC 2005 College Students’ Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources
  • Consider also that some of what motivates 21 st century is not particularly new, and that human nature does change slowly. Maslow’s classic hierarchy of needs causes us to recollect that unless our students are secure in terms of safety, belonging and self-esteem (an issue especially evident in Intermediate and Secondary students) we are pushing uphill to develop intellectual, creative, moral problem solvers. Finkelstein adapted from Maslow, Abraham 1954 Motivation and personality  New York : Harper's_hierarchy_of_needs Some libraries have not been very good at the emotion and relationship issues of user-centred service and how it relates to information literacy needs. Academic style has been about independent work, and has traditionally valued objective, evidence-based approaches that strip out personality and point of view. It is interesting to note here the new challenge to education being presented by computer game developers like Peter Molyneux who is trying to put emotion (especially being loved) into games, requiring players to have someone to care about. He makes the point that books and film deal with many emotions but games tend to concentrate on competition, fear and even hatred.
  • The learning landscape and information literacy focus of the academic institution: accredited age-specific authoritative blacklisted blocked boring catalogued censored clean closed commercial controlled copyrighted filtered fragmented graduated neutral private qualified printed private protected responsible reputable restricted safe sanitised scholarly slow standardised small systemic structured text-based time-bound uniform walled As information literacy advocates we have lived in this country for many years. We know how it works and we get concerned at what will happen to what we value as people ‘water down’ or ‘dumb down’ this ecosystem. So we hear people in this institutionalised learning asking themselves: “When did ‘easy’ takeover from ‘quality’ as the main criteria in the selection of resources? When did presentation become more important than content, or the projected dot point supplant the well-crafted paragraph?”
  • In another place, this may be the information literacy and learning landscape of many of our student’s personal information experience always-on blogged colourful creative diverse fast free flashy generative global immediate informal innovative interesting involving media-rich motivating muddy multimodal open opinionated participatory personalised popular public real recorded relevant responsive rich risky shared tagged visual Differences between these landscapes lie in: balance of power - where students participate in decision making instructional skills – questioning, listening, and responding, drawing on interpersonal skills and a sensitivity to group development high levels of empathy and trust to create a setting in which students are comfortable taking risks I would like to suggest that it is the institutional learning approach which is the ‘dumber’ of these if you consider the significant effort involved in higher order thinking skills, interpersonal and relationship skills required to operate in this landscape.
  • Where are you at the moment on this continuum of Web 2.0 and social networking participation? A survey compiled by Forrest Research Data Where do you think your clients are? Teachers? Learners? Parents? Administrators? Network administrators? Politicians? Community? Check out the results of this research Jessi Hempel “Who participates and what are people doing online” June 2007 BusinessWeek magazine An increasing number of learners from Generation Y and Z are on an alternative route and ask why they have to choose from such a limited range of resources at school? Why aren’t video, podcasting, instant messaging and social networking valued as information sources at school, and why there is no way for them to share their evaluation of resources with others?
  • We can be classed as information literacy expats if we: assume a pre-selected quality collection Swanson[1] (2004) provides a challenging critique of information literacy making the point that our current information literacy programmes and practices are from an era when we could safely assume that students were searching within a pre-selected collection of ‘quality’ resources, be it the school library, another library or a commercial database (which in itself had been selected for that audience). Finding resources was the priority; evaluation had already been undertaken by the professional so could be taken for granted by the searcher. [1] Swanson, Troy A. A Radical Step: Implementing A Critical Information Literacy Model Libraries and the Academy - Vol 4, No 2, April 2004, pp. 259-273 Collections now are global, distributed, diverse and definitely not homogenously selected. How much better would it be to share the task of selection and collection with our user community? focus on the format of information sources rather than the learning potential of information there are many tools, formats, packages and contexts through which learning can occur. The best one is the one where the tool/format itself requires minimal learning, ie it doesn’t get in the way of learning the real stuff. Library catalogues should not require any more instruction than a search engine. Identify what it is that is hard about the library catalogue and get it fixed. give the impression that searching for information is a rules-driven process there is no one-way to search for information in this diverse landscape. There may be a flowchart of decision-making or metacognition that can be valuably explored but concentrate on the big stuff, not the intricacies of a single interface (that could change at any time). Trying to develop learners who can adapt their existing knowledge to a new situation – which is what they will be doing for the rest of their life. Unlearning old ways gets in the way of learning. pretend that neutral point of view is possible nothing is neutral, there is always someone’s agenda involved. The important thing is that that agenda be made as transparent as possible and can be understood and challenged. Closed, hidden systems that claim to be ‘quality’ require publication of excruciatingly detailed ‘collection policy’ documents. Try spelling out every decision you weigh up when you select an item for your collection. ignore cultural, social and relational aspects while we may favour New Zealand resources or collections, or usability/readability by young learners, how often do we include material that uses the learner ‘voice’ rather than the academic voice? We know that small national and cultural groups (like NZ and Australia) cannot sustain quantity in their own market, so why do we insist on concentrating our time and money on commercial, ‘clean’, quality print-based resources even though we know there are not enough of these? refuse to acknowledge that relevance is in the eye of the beholder the algorithms of current resource discovery tools cannot cater to individual interest, age-level, prior knowledge and determine perfect relevance. The top 10 search results research dilemma. Who says what is relevant? When I type Vivaldi Four Seasons into a search engine, how does it know whether I am I studying music or shopping for music? “ Information literacy is also harmful because it encourages librarians to teach ways to deal with the complexity of information retrieval, rather than to try to reduce that complexity.’“ “We need to appear where our users appear – we have to step into the shoes of the user and not send them to re-education camps.” Missingham, Roxanne in Fletcher, Janet 2007 “Information literacy is dead?” Information Online 2007 Oblinger, D and Dziuban, C “How Choice, co-creation, and culture are changing what it means to be net savvy” Educause
  • As the only thing we can change is ourselves, I do not see the second ‘megaphone’ option as a productive strategy. We have spent far too long in that space. We need to change our language from the ‘war’ or ‘them and us’ discourse of ‘more appropriate,’ ‘difficulties of trying to get students to’, ‘information illiterate’, lazy, ‘addicted to Google’ and start to look toward a new horizon, or at the very least rewrite the textbook using some new examples. Otherwise it may well be time to surrender or retire.
  • What follows is some ideas around information literacy activities that address some of the issues we have raised. These can also be used for Professional learning for teachers and library staff (and parents) One-to-one discussion with students
  • Wikis are webpages with an edit button, a history function, a discussion page and a content policy. They provide plenty of scope for information literacy activities and group assignments. Debate An excellent exercise for information literacy using wikis is to use the discussion page of a wiki. Look at the Wikipedia article on an issue, eg Antarctica or the Iraq war, and see the discussion between authors about what should and shouldn’t be in the article. Here is evidence of people thinking about what they read and write and debating the content policies. How much richer would our students and teachers level of information literacy be if we had evidence of this level of debate about what they read and quote. Work with teachers to ensure students are taught to think about hard issues, and to debate both orally and their writing, and team work. Content policy A particular issue in wikis is the collaborative content creation process where the content policy of the particular wiki needs to be understood in order to assess the content. Mark Pesce at the seminars with Jimmy Wales in April 2007 gave a brilliant example by comparing the article on ‘kangaroo’ across 4 wikis. Authority Another salient point about wikis was brought home to me recently. Take some time to get to know your students and which online communities they inhabit and contribute to. It may surprise many library staff and teacher librarians to find that the highest ranking contributors and moderators on many wikis, including Wikipedia are their students. While we are marking their information literacy activity on a particular topic, they are themselves marking and moderating the writing of a world-wide group of authors on particular Wikipedia topics where they are recognised as key authorities.
  • We have seen that younger online users create more than us. We do our creating in handouts, activities, newsletters, journals and Word, Publisher, PowerPoint which we either lock away in LMS or intranets. Few of us publish our own material online. We tend to think it is important for students to know how to use these same tools, so we spend years ‘teaching’ them the MS Office suite, and blocking a heap of other tools that make creation easier, sexier and more powerful for collaboration and sharing online. Does the tool used to create something matter? How much more powerful and engaging for the student to choose the ‘best’ way for them from the range of tools they know? The important learning is that of creating. They will quickly realise issues of sharing and reusing. I believe in depth knowledge of some tools is important for students, but how much richer to have different student expert in different tools = distributed knowledge. Our goal: learners who create at least as much if not more than they consume. Copyright is one of the areas where there are two points of view. We should be ensuring our students are educated in both the old and the new approaches to copyright. Creative Commons Videos Search flickr and google to see how many people are sharing their creation online. Open Educational Resources, or OER
  • How to choose the best online community to meet your needs: evaluation criteria (when you choose a school, a university, a club – how much research do you do in advance? Do you just go to the one that gets the most media publicity? Eg. Myspace compared to the many other options out there. How much does size of community matter? How do online groups work? Salmon, Gilly “5 stage process” E-moderating 2nd ed
  • Point of view While wikis such as Wikipedia promote a Neutral point of view (NPOV) do our students know what neutral (or even Point of View) is? The explicit teaching from an early age to look for the point of view of an author or presenter, to understand where others are coming from is a major challenge, and one which many adults are unable to put into practice, or verbalise. Unless we help students develop an awareness of both their own values and assumptions and those of the education system, the advertising industry, employers or publishers they will have little frame of reference to recognise point of view in online communication. Blogs While wikis are team-based publishing tools, blogs are very much personal publishing tools. Even in corporate blogs the author is clearly identified. This is writing for my own good, writing what I want to write or what I think have that is worth saying to a particular audience, or to the world generally if I have that type of profile. Many students have a blog, although for many of them they won’t call it that, it will be their livejournal or myspace. Students involved in commenting, reviewing, rating and blogging need explicit understanding of appropriate behaviour and language for public discourse. Librarything A must to explore for library staff: a community, rating, tagging, reviewing books.
  • School library staff need to map programmes that ensure all learners get through to key intersections at which they can locate an expert guide and have their information literacy needs addressed. Given the variation between school communities in terms of staffing, resourcing levels and cultural background it is obvious that each school will have its own information literacy map. However many issues are the same for primary and secondary, city and rural, and Australian and New Zealand school communities, particularly in the challenging area of emerging technologies and new media. All professional library staff have a role in supporting the process of critical information literacy with individual students and staff. Teacher librarians have a particularly challenging role in creating learner-centred environments and teaching programmes for staff and students that promote and encourage critical information literacy, often in the face of resistance. We are accustomed to thinking at a systems level in our information literacy, but context, relevance, relationship and identity require that we get to the personal level and to consider alternatives to the traditional large group classroom style approach to information literacy. This requires research into what skills students need in the new landscape and assessment of what skills they already have. Development of appropriate pre- and post-testing techniques to determine at an individual level how successful our strategies have been. How do I find the good stuff? How do I weed the good from the rubbish? How do I sort the scholar from the spin doctor? How do I know the rules and the etiquette of publishing in print and online? How do I know how to behave professionally?
  • Exchanging literacies (Janet Hawtin) “ Information is not a broadcast space anymore. This means the useful voices could come from anywhere. Part of the difference for this stuff is that it is impossible to know all of the technologies and customers/students will have natty skills in their own technology of choice”. Mashing : Mashup (web application hybrid) , a website or web application that combines content from more than one source Rating : “We are leaving the Information Age and entering the Recommendation Age… Making smart decisions based on the information is now the trick. Recommendations serve as shortcuts through the thicket of information.” (Frog Design Consultancy in Anderson, 2006 “The long tail” Wired magazine 12(10) Searching Relevance is a concept that must be taught in a context” (Swanson, 2004, p.268) The challenge of building community aspect into searching: social search Do searchers know the algorithm determining relevance ranking of results in their search? Do they recognise commercial results/advertising in search engines? Some issues of search: aware of human nature, user tendency towards laziness or wooliness – not defining task fast, accurate results not always preferred some users prefer optional or popular answers, over a ‘correct’ answer the greater the distance from ‘the information discoverer’ the more danger search functionality and cataloguing practice will be irrelevant. the difficulties of indexing for intermediaries who are search experts as well as for self-service by users Tagging How do I describe the world? How does my community see the world? See work on folksonomies, eg Hayman, S 2007 Folksonomies and tagging: new developments in social bookmarking
  • Culture: Does my gender matter? Does my culture matter? Does my age matter? Cultural literacy and issues for small countries maintaining their culture in the face of globalisation. Culture of participation, is indeed an imperative of participation for our students. But unless they have some ownership, understanding and respect for their culture they are very susceptible to adopting other/the dominant culture online. ‘The grass is always greener”. Lifestyle Communications technologies means we are never alone. Does the always on lifestyle mean the quick response is favoured over considered thought processes. Surveillance issues Identity Who am I? What is my reputation? How do I know how to guard my reputation? In e-bay, identity is wrapped up in trust, reputation, service level etc and it has an obvious commercial and financial reward basis. Could this work in other contexts Privacy What’s the motivation? Determining the driver(s) for any content or publication can help us determine which frame of reference, or questions to ask when considering different format types. What are the elements of value? Is there such a thing as altruism? Financial value: is time included in here? Political value: status Social value: sense of community, volunteerism, community building, public record, relationship, networks Personal value: feel-good, personal satisfaction. Personal profile has elements of political or social depending on the context. Emotional value: makes me feel better, Effort value: for time poor people, it’s quick and easy that determines value. Thinking power is reduced. Is ‘easy’ more important than ‘quality’? Educational/pedagogical value: do I learn, creativity, curiosity and capacity, conversations, Wanting to know ‘why’? What kills curiosity? Fear of failure, disapproval, absence of motivation or external encouragement Ethical value The attention economy
  • Engage: First priority: library staff as friendly and flexible Learn: What are the information literacy skills we need as library staff in the 21st century? Like any new skills they will require conscious effort, learning and practice. Automatic transfer from the old information literacy landscape is not going to happen. It requires mapping of the old skills to the new country. Then we can start to model these with teachers and students. Research: Find out where staff and students are at. What their needs are now. Advocate The need to market our skills and programmes is ever present, regardless of our role in the library team. Our product is fantastic why is it so hard to sell? Are we spending so much time complicating it, being superior instead of working together? Push together for a whole school policy that addresses student needs: promote and nurture a ‘whole school focus’ on information literacy policy and implementation. Speak up about digital literacy, critical thinking, and the ethics and values of information use.
  • Information literacy 2.0: experts or expats?

    1. 1. Information literacy 2.0: information literacy experts or expats? Pru Mitchell, Senior Information Officer SLANZA July 2007
    2. 2. What’s our role? The school library helps students with... Our ranking 1. Getting information 2. Using information 3. Knowledge 4. Computers 5. Reading 6. Working independently 7. Overall academic achievement
    3. 3. The student voice Hay 2006 School libraries and student learning The school library helps with.. 1. Getting information 2. Using information 3. Knowledge 4. Computers 5. Reading 6. Working independently 7. Overall academic achievement Students Staff (TL) 2 nd 1 st 3 rd 3 rd (2 nd ) 6 th 4 th 1 st 7 th 5 th 6 th 7 th 2 nd (3 rd ) 4 th 5th
    4. 4. 21 st century students <ul><li>“ Net Gen students are not necessarily net savvy” </li></ul><ul><li>“ rather than traditional structure, hierarchy, and control - they are looking for relating, mentoring and guidance” </li></ul><ul><li>“ it is a world of experience – not just evidence” </li></ul>McCrindle, Mark Engaging with 21st Century Graduates
    5. 5. Hierarchy of needs Finkelstein, J adapted from Maslow, A 1954 Motivation and personality  Harper, NY's_hierarchy_of_needs
    6. 6. Institutionalised learning
    7. 7. Personalised learning
    8. 8. Where do we fit in Web 2.0? Who participates and what are people doing online BusinessWeek , 11 June 2007 <ul><li>Creators publish web pages, write blogs, upload videos to sites like YouTube </li></ul><ul><li>Critics comment on blogs and post ratings & reviews </li></ul><ul><li>Collectors use RSS and tag web pages to gather information </li></ul><ul><li>Joiners use social networking sites </li></ul><ul><li>Spectators read blogs, watch peer-generated videos, listen to podcasts </li></ul><ul><li>Inactives are online but don’t yet participate in any form of social media </li></ul>
    9. 9. So what’s our problem? <ul><li>The current institutionalised learning approach is very different from the personalised learning experience of most students </li></ul><ul><li>Current information literacy approaches fail to address many areas of student need </li></ul><ul><li>Even if we want to help students get the best from personalised learning, institutional policies can make it damn difficult </li></ul>
    10. 10. Information literacy expats <ul><li>assume a pre-selected quality collection </li></ul><ul><li>focus on the format of information sources rather than the learning potential of information </li></ul><ul><li>give the impression that searching for information is a rules-driven process </li></ul><ul><li>pretend that neutral point of view is possible </li></ul><ul><li>ignore cultural, social and relational aspects </li></ul><ul><li>refuse to acknowledge that relevance is in the eye of the beholder </li></ul>
    11. 11. What are our options? <ul><li>Keep going as we are, no change </li></ul><ul><li>Spend all our energy trying to convince the world that our way is best </li></ul><ul><li>Do what we are now but with a warning that this works for defined, pre-selected collections </li></ul><ul><li>Go back to principles and adjust examples to the new landscape </li></ul><ul><li>Look for unknown futures </li></ul><ul><li>Give up and get out </li></ul>
    12. 12. A new information landscape <ul><li>collaborative </li></ul><ul><li>creative and shared </li></ul><ul><li>community-based </li></ul><ul><li>personal </li></ul><ul><li>virtual </li></ul>
    13. 13. Information literacy examples <ul><li>What might information literacy programmes look like in this landscape? </li></ul>
    14. 14. Collaborator code of conduct <ul><li>Concept: learning is collaborative </li></ul><ul><li>wikis: the discussion pages Antarctica </li></ul><ul><li>compare wikis Conservapedia RationalWiki Uncyclopedia </li></ul><ul><li>wikiquette for school wikis wikispaces </li></ul>
    15. 15. Create > Consume <ul><li>Concept: learning is creative </li></ul><ul><li>growing a ‘create’ culture </li></ul><ul><li>creating vs consuming </li></ul><ul><li>reusing and sharing </li></ul><ul><li>new information products </li></ul><ul><li>copyleft and new licences </li></ul>
    16. 16. Friend of a Friend <ul><li>Concept: learning is community-based </li></ul><ul><li>learning from peers and community </li></ul><ul><li>finding others who share your interests </li></ul><ul><li>criteria for joining an online community </li></ul><ul><li>how do groups work? </li></ul><ul><li>social networking </li></ul>
    17. 17. Personality and POV <ul><li>Concept: learning is personal </li></ul><ul><li>about and profiles </li></ul><ul><li>point of view </li></ul><ul><li>cyberbullying </li></ul><ul><li>blogger’s code of conduct </li></ul><ul><li>literature circles blogs </li></ul>
    18. 18. Virtual literacy <ul><li>Concept: learning is virtual </li></ul><ul><li>a whole new world </li></ul><ul><li>games-based </li></ul><ul><li>learning from mistakes </li></ul><ul><li>professional learning eg. Second Life PhD </li></ul>View of Terra Icognita Lindy McKeown's island in Second Life
    19. 19. Information literacy experts <ul><li>communicate conversation or collaboration? </li></ul><ul><li>create craft or consume/copy? </li></ul><ul><li>describe data or decoration? </li></ul><ul><li>filter fact or fiction? </li></ul><ul><li>share self or somebody else? </li></ul><ul><li>sift scholarship or spin? </li></ul><ul><li>trust tried or trendy? </li></ul>
    20. 20. New literacies <ul><li>exchanging </li></ul><ul><li>mashing </li></ul><ul><li>rating </li></ul><ul><li>searching </li></ul><ul><li>tagging </li></ul>
    21. 21. Big picture concerns <ul><li>culture globalisation, generations </li></ul><ul><li>governance debate, e-democracy </li></ul><ul><li>identity privacy, reputation </li></ul><ul><li>lifestyle always-on, surveillance </li></ul><ul><li>profit motivation, value </li></ul>
    22. 22. Action <ul><li>engage: be friendly and flexible </li></ul><ul><li>learn: start with our own learning </li></ul><ul><li>research: understand new information literacy needs </li></ul><ul><li>advocate: work to change institutional policies that prevent engagement </li></ul>
    23. 23. Discuss … <ul><li>“ peers are the best teachers” </li></ul><ul><li>“ opinion and viral marketing matters” </li></ul><ul><li>“ we can’t be satisfied with what we don’t know” </li></ul><ul><li>“ libraries may change from being centres of authoritative information to being more of a hub for information about human choices” </li></ul>Hawtin, Janet 2007 “Literacy exchange” blog post