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Practices of community representatives in exploiting information channels for citizen engagement

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Information literacy amongst Scottish community councillors - adn the use of activity theory in underpinning the analysis.

Slides from presentation by Cruickshank Hall & Ryan at i3 at RGU 2017.

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Practices of community representatives in exploiting information channels for citizen engagement

  1. 1. PRACTICES OF COMMUNITY REPRESENTATIVES IN EXPLOITING INFORMATION CHANNELS FOR CITIZEN ENGAGEMENT PETER CRUICKSHANK @SPARTAKAN HAZEL HALL @HAZELH BRUCE RYAN @BRUCE_RESEARCH CENTRE FOR SOCIAL INFORMATICS
  2. 2. THE PROJECT This presentation is based on some of the outcomes of the IL-DEM project that ran at end of 2016 ◦ http://www.informationliteracy.org.uk/2017/03/project-report-on- information-literacy-for-democratic-engagement-il-dem/ ◦ https://community-knect.net/category/projects/il-dem/ It was funded by the Information Literacy Group of CILIP ◦ https://www.cilip.org.uk/about/special-interest-groups/information- literacy-group It was carried out by the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University’s School of Computing 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 2
  3. 3. WHAT ARE COMMUNITY COUNCILS? There are 32 Local Authorities in Scotland ◦ Average population c100k – much bigger than anywhere else in Europe ◦ Community Councils represent small areas within these LAs in an attempt to make up the democratic deficit ◦ Legal duty: ◦ “Ascertain, co-ordinate and express to the local authorities for its area, …the views of the community which it represents” ◦ In practice, this is also understood to be about communication of key facts to & from citizens Powers are limited ◦ Mostly, the right to be consulted ◦ Some more direct input into planning processes I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN29/06/2017 3
  4. 4. WHO ARE COMMUNITY COUNCILLORS? Community Council members are unpaid volunteers ◦ Around 1200 community councils in total ◦ Around 11,000 community councillors ◦ No solid demographic information exists They have access to small to non-existent budgets ◦ Average annual income is around £1000 ◦ Enough to hire a monthly meeting room, pay for some stationery… 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 4
  5. 5. 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 5 YEAH, AND? https://pixabay.com/en/bored-female-girl-people-school-16811/
  6. 6. WHY COMMUNITY COUNCILS ARE INTERESTING (REALLY) Pure representation role Entirely oriented to information finding and sharing May give an insight into approaches to “facts” by representatives Small scale, community based nature: Analogies with hyperlocal media? “Context collapse” 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 6
  7. 7. RESEARCH MOTIVATION Previous work used models of knowledge sharing and CoPs (Cruickshank & Ryan, 2015) ◦ Had indicated that information science could provide useful insights ◦ Raised questions about how community councillors went about acquiring skills and information Research gap: Information literacy in representatives ◦ not citizens - well covered, eg by Smith (2016) Research Questions addressed representatives finding and sharing info: 1. about their role 2. about their community, and with their community 3. what resources are available to help 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 7 There’s the bigger picture: What are we trying to prove?
  8. 8. INFORMATION LITERACY 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 8 ‘those who possess the techniques and skills for using information tools in moulding solutions to problems’ Responding to the new information intense world Although it started in workplace context in the 1970s, it was soon applied to politics, and then personal lives… …it is now linked to libraries, librarians and (higher) education (Berhens, 1994). IL is always seen as a good thing… it is value laden. Focusses on the individual Current definitions and models reflect this background. ◦ eg The Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_New_York_Times_newsroom_1942.jpg
  9. 9. RESEARCH APPROACH 1 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 9 Identified themes … ◦ Information literacy ◦ Behaviour and practices ◦ Lifelong learning/everyday life ◦ Libraries ◦ Communities, social capital and citizenship ◦ Becoming information literate •From themes •From literature Questions developed •Information Literacy •Activity systems Validated against models
  10. 10. RESEARCH APPROACH 2: INFORMATION LITERACY 1. Identify 2. Scope 3. Plan 4. Gather 5. Evaluate 6. Manage 7. Present The SCONUL 7-pillar model (SCONUL, 2011) was chosen for its recentness and extensibility Not used to directly create questions …Instead, used to validate them 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 10 •From themes •From literature Questions developed •Information Literacy •Activity systems Validated against models
  11. 11. RESEARCH APPROACH 3: ACTIVITY THEORY (AT) ‘A language for making sense of complex, real-world activities in cultural and historical contexts’ Enables examination of collective/ organizational activities. ◦ AT has been used in IL research (eg in Wilson, 2008) but not in the context of democratic representation ◦ Inspired partly by the use of AT in Detlor, Hupfer & Smith (2016) to organise their data 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 11 •From themes •From literature Questions developed •Information Literacy •Activity systems Validated against models Subject Tools Object Outcome Division of labour CommunityRules and norms Motivation
  12. 12. RESEARCH PROCESS METHOD Interviews Triangulation through ◦ Online survey ◦ Direct contact with LA support staff ◦ Desktop research PARTICIPANTS 19 in total from all over Scotland Most many years out of school Almost all degree or PG education That is: likely untypically high self efficacy in information seeking and use. Results are going to be close to best practice ◦ Lack of info on general demographics of community councillors makes it difficult to generalise 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 12
  13. 13. 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 13 PALE, STALE AND MALE?
  14. 14. 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 14 PALE, STALE AND FEMALE? http://mountpleasantgranary.net/blog/images/Rachel-concentrating.jpg
  15. 15. FINDINGS: FINDING AND SHARING INFORMATION ABOUT ROLES Defined in terms of information “Voice of the community” “represent community views” Sharing information from citizens to authorities But also, explaining the decisions to citizens ABOUT THE COMMUNITY Sources of information: mix of digital and non- digital Facebook is a key online channel ◦ Some make use of demographic data provided by Facebook Information assessed for quality on basis of source 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 15
  16. 16. FINDINGS: FINDING AND SHARING INFORMATION 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 16 “We don’t transact actions, we don’t have any financial power. Our currency is information”
  17. 17. IL ANALYSES USING SCONUL MODEL 1. Identify information needs ◦ The majority (16/19) used relevant sources to understand their roles ◦ It was clear that very few stepped far from the information and training provided by their local authorities 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 18 1. Identify 2. Scope 3. Plan 4. Gather 5. Evaluate 6. Manage 7. Present
  18. 18. IL ANALYSES USING SCONUL MODEL 2. Scoping work ◦ Conspicuously absent (only 1/19). ◦ There is awareness of the tasks required by their community council roles, which implies they have some idea of the scope of the related information gaps 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 19 1. Identify 2. Scope 3. Plan 4. Gather 5. Evaluate 6. Manage 7. Present
  19. 19. IL ANALYSES USING SCONUL MODEL 3. Planning to fill information gaps ◦ Lack rigour ◦ It is almost totally absent from information-gathering related to understanding roles ◦ Planning is more present in information-sharing between citizens and authorities 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 20 1. Identify 2. Scope 3. Plan 4. Gather 5. Evaluate 6. Manage 7. Present if there’s information-seeking to be done, I generally do it myself… I’m highly skeptical of others’ information- gathering skills. ‘we’ve realized that having a reliance on just using the web to research information has its limitations’
  20. 20. IL ANALYSES USING SCONUL MODEL 4. Information gathering ◦ Variable practices ◦ Variation in the sources and channels used in these activities, and the reasons for such variation, may well be worth investigating further. 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 21 1. Identify 2. Scope 3. Plan 4. Gather 5. Evaluate 6. Manage 7. Present
  21. 21. [we are] ‘balancing needs of those immediately affected by issues against those of whole community’ IL ANALYSES USING SCONUL MODEL 5. Evaluation of information ◦ Lacks rigour: generally assessed by its provenance, implying that interviewees generally trust ‘official’ sources such as local authorities and central government ◦ Even though other responses criticised local authorities for not providing, or even obstructing access to, information desired by community councils 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 22 1. Identify 2. Scope 3. Plan 4. Gather 5. Evaluate 6. Manage 7. Present ‘you have to be able to know that what you’re telling people is correct, therefore if you don’t understand or you haven’t researched the information, they’re not going to get the right answer.’
  22. 22. IL ANALYSES USING SCONUL MODEL 6. Information management ◦ Means: Honesty when handling and disseminating information, choice of appropriate methods for handling and storing information ◦ Calls for use of suitable software to create and manage information ◦ Not mentioned – but information is routinely stored in the form of minutes and committee papers 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 23 1. Identify 2. Scope 3. Plan 4. Gather 5. Evaluate 6. Manage 7. Present
  23. 23. IL ANALYSES USING SCONUL MODEL 7. Information presentation ◦ Covers a wide range of activities ◦ Highly variable, especially in the channels used to disseminate information to citizens 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 24 1. Identify 2. Scope 3. Plan 4. Gather 5. Evaluate 6. Manage 7. Present ‘sharing information about local meetings builds social capital in terms of meetings being well attended and hence building social networks’
  24. 24. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AFlickr_-_%E2%80%A6trialsanderrors_-_Temple_of_Jupiter%2C_Baalbek%2C_Holy_Land%2C_ca._1895.jpg29/06/2017 HOW TO EXPLAIN THE BROKEN PILLARS? I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 25
  25. 25. ACTIVITY THEORY AS A FRAMEWORK Nice to use ◦ Ensured robustness of questions ◦ Good at identifying and integrating social context Would be easy to go on and explore… ◦ The different potential activity systems involved ◦ Contradictions between and within them 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 26 Subject community councils Tools Facebook, social media, face-to-face, paper Object Information shared with citizens Outcome somewhat informed citizens Division of labour conflicts, roles, resources Community peers and local authority councillors, local communities Rules and norms community council structures are defined by local authority Schemes Motivation understanding of roles We’re presenting more on this at ECIL 2017 Activity System: Sharing of information with citizens
  26. 26. INFORMATION LITERACY AS A FRAMEWORK A good measurement tool, less good on explanation ◦ Eg: Not enough on social context Educational biases in IL show through ◦ Workplace and lifelong learning seem to be afterthoughts Main issue for us is the weakness of sharing as a single pillar ◦ It’s a complex of behaviours, even more than the other pillars, including: ◦ Skills for media creation ◦ Identifying audience needs (imagining the audience) ◦ Extracting meaning/significance 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 27 https://www.flickr.com/photos/national_archives_of_estonia/12810067093
  27. 27. POLICY IMPLICATIONS Gaps in skills & practices point to obvious training needs ◦ Limited by general lack of resources ◦ Back to communities of practice to understand best models for knowledge & skill sharing Library support opportunities being missed ◦ Such as basic IL skills appropriate to community councillors 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 28 Remember that the data comes from people with good skills and high self-efficacy “…all done on an ad hoc informal basis and not specifically for community councils per se”
  28. 28. CONCLUSION IL for static analysis, AT for context ◦ Lifelong learning provides another context (Irving, Brettle & Hall, 2015) Gives an idea of the issues that politicians face in their role as community representative ◦ Raises questions about how this relates to existing workplace research Relation to other research approaches? ◦ Communities of practice (understood as activity systems?) ◦ Information communication? Eg hyperlocal media and context collapse 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 29
  29. 29. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The authors are grateful to … ◦ The Information Literacy Group of CILIP for funding the work ◦ The community councillors who participated in the research ◦ The community council liaison officers and Improvement Service staff for providing information, helping to pilot interview questions and to recruit participants, to the local authority librarians who provided information 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 30 © To the best of my knowledge, all images are public domain or Creative Commons. Follow the links for individual terms and conditions
  30. 30. SELECTED REFERENCES & FURTHER READING Behrens, S. J. (1994). A Conceptual Analysis and Historical Overview of Information Literacy. College & Research Libraries, 55(4), 309–322. https://doi.org/10.5860/crl_55_04_309 Cruickshank, P., & Ryan, B. M. (2015). The Communities of Practice model for understanding digital engagement by hyperlocal elected representatives. In E. Tambouris, H. J. Scholl, M. Janssen, M. A. Wimmer, K. Tarabanis, M. Gascó, … Ø. Sæbø (Eds.), Electronic Government and Electronic Participation (pp. 11–18). IOS Press. http://doi.org/10.3233/978-1- 61499-570-8-11 Detlor, B., Hupfer, M. E., & Smith, D. H. (2016). Digital storytelling and memory institutions: a case study using activity theory. In ASIST 2016. Copenhagen, Denmark. Irving, C., Brettle, A., & Hall, H. (2015). How can information literacy be modelled from a lifelong learning perspective? In Information: Interactions and Impact. Aberdeen, UK. Retrieved from www.rgu.ac.uk/file/i3-irving-et-al-pdf-800k Ryan, B. M., & Cruickshank, P. (2014). Scottish Community Councils online: the 2014 survey. Edinburgh. https://doi.org/10.14297/enr.2016.000002 Smith, L. (2016). School libraries, political information and information literacy provision: findings from a Scottish study. Journal of Information Literacy, 20(2). https://doi.org/10.11645/10.2.2097 Wilson, T. (2008). Activity Theory and Information Seeking. Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, 42, 119–161. https://doi.org/10.1002/aris.2008.1440420111 29/06/2017 I3 - CRUICKSHANK (@SPARTAKAN), HALL & RYAN 31
  31. 31. THANK YOU PETER CRUICKSHANK P.CRUICKSHANK@NAPIER.AC.UK @SPARTAKAN HAZEL HALL H.HALL@NAPIER.AC.UK @HAZELH BRUCE RYAN B.RYAN@NAPIER.AC.UK @BRUCE_RESEARCH

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