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Empowering the learner "against all odds" Paper presented at LILAC 2005: Librarians' Information Literacy Annual Conference. April 4-6 2005, Imperial College, London.

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  1. 1. Empowering the learner, “against all odds” Susie Andretta Senior Lecturer in Information Management London Metropolitan University
  2. 2. Empowering the learner • Ever-changing information environment "To respond effectively to an ever-changing environment .. people need more than just a knowledge base, they also need techniques for exploring it, connecting it to other knowledge bases, and making practical use of it. In other words, the landscape upon which we used to stand has been transformed, and we are being forced to establish a new foundation called information literacy." (ALA, 1998)
  3. 3. Empowering the learner • Knowledge-based economy and the learn-how-to- learn approach “The need for continuous learning of both codified information and the competencies to use this information.” (OECD, 1996)
  4. 4. Empowering the learner • Information Literacy: foundation of lifelong learning (ACRL, 2000; ANZIIL 2004; Abid 2004) Relationship between information literacy, independent and lifelong learning, Bundy 2004:5
  5. 5. Empowering the learner the Information Literacy way 1. Students responsible for their learning “[Information literacy] enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning.” (ACRL 2000).
  6. 6. Empowering the learner the Information Literacy way 2. Campus-wide IL approach (embedded in the learning and teaching strategy) “Information literacy isn’t just a library issue but, it is an issue for all of HE and society as well.” (Snavely, 2001: 2)
  7. 7. Empowering the learner the Information Literacy way 3. Educators as facilitators of learning “We remove ourselves as the ‘sage on the stage’, thus de-emphasising the role of the instructor as yet another infallible source of information, becoming instead the guide on the side” (Doherty et al 1999)
  8. 8. Against all odds - challenges from a learner’s perspective Spoon-feeding expectations of learners • “Non-compulsory attendance was not good because sometimes I need some kind of obligation to force myself to go to college and study.” (undergraduate) • To begin with I have found the volume of work very hard as I felt a bit like I had been thrown in at the deep end.” (postgraduate)
  9. 9. Against all odds - challenges from an institutional perspective Clash of pedagogical cultures University: “What use is made of the available information for tracking student attendance? Are efforts made to make it clear to students that their chances of success are greatly improved by regular attendance?” IL module: “Students’ experience of the different modes of learning where the emphasis is on the quality of engagement with the learning resources.”
  10. 10. Against all odds - challenges from an institutional perspective • Unversity’s response to the culture clash: “The matter of tracking student attendance has been endorsed by the University Executive.. Ms Andretta, has expressly refused to provide a register for the module on the grounds that 'it is pedagogically inappropriate to do so' claiming that to 'monitor attendance will undermine the module's pedagogic strategy’.. students simply MUST attend a significant number of sessions, particularly at the early stages.. To claim that attendance can not be monitored is simply unacceptable.”
  11. 11. Against all odds - challenges from the educator’s perspective Facilitation of learning is effortful (Paul 1992) and feedback on formative work is not recognised as legitimate part of the workload • 500 email messages generated by a cohort of 150 undergraduate students • 100 scripts for a cohort of 40 postgraduate students
  12. 12. Empowerment seen from the learner’s perspective “The information literacy module enables students to learn very important skills which are needed for studying at University. It encourages self-discipline .. I feel I have benefited considerably from this module as it has enabled me to develop skills which will be beneficial for my forthcoming studies .. I have learnt different ways of retrieving information which I did not know before and I have also learnt to work more independently.” (undergraduate)
  13. 13. Empowerment seen from the learner’s perspective “[AIR] has given me a greater confidence when dealing with academics/academia. It has made me look, increasingly, to evidence-based decision making when confronted with changes in the work environment.” (postgraduate) “A great deal working in a public library in a diverse London Borough. It will enable me to look at the community from their perspective and provide them with what they want, not what I think they need!” (postgraduate)
  14. 14. How do we even the odds? London Metropolitan University: • Support for IL education at departmental level • Develop retention strategies suited to IL provision
  15. 15. How do we even the odds? Future role of IL education in the UK? • Foundation of Lifelong Learning (CHE, 1995; Candy et al 1994; DfES 2003) • Re-defining the identity of information professionals (ACRL, 2000; ANZIIL 2004) User/Provider Learner/Facilitator
  16. 16. Additional references Candy, P., Crebert, G. and O’Leary, J., 1994. Developing Lifelong learners through undergraduate education. Camberra: AGPS Commission on Higher Education (CHE), 1995. Information Literacy Lifelong Learning in the Middle States Region. Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University - Reinventing Undergraduate Education: a Blueprint for America's Research Universities: 1-19. Department for Employment and Skills (DfES), 2003. Towards a Unified e-learning Strategy, available at: .uk/consultations2/16/ (accessed 12 June 2004).