Thursday, June 22, 2017

Our wicked problem: educating for digital literacy

Fortuitously, this evening an very interesting talk was given at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. Since this is just an hour from Edinburgh, I travelled through to hear it after the seminar I attended at Napier University in Edinburgh. Professor Heidi Julien gave an invited talk on Our wicked problem: educating for digital literacy. She started by identifying that digital literacy wasn’t the “solvable” problem that some claimed. Julien then went on to talk about some of the issues associated with fake news: e.g. the extent to which right or left wing media might have more false news. She saw the fake news phenomenon (and associated filter bubbles) as “the making of a crisis for democracy, for good governance, for health and wellbeing” .
Julien identified the increasing resistence to experts by various constituencies (dismissing them as elites, biased etc.): she recommended Nichols (2017) book, The death of expertise: the campaign against established knowledge and why it matters. She encouraged people to engage: be active, expressing views publically, educating government representatives, and advocating for digital literacy.
Julien mentioned the #librariestransform campaign, #librariesresist, posters etc. created by the Association, IFLA etc. and various guides such as http://snopes.com http://bsdetector.tech http://www.thenewsliteracyproject.org. She identified challenges to digital literacy education including that people may overestimate their digital literacy skills, that information practices are complex, information seeking is a dynamic process, that people favour habitual practices and convenient solutions. She also noted that "people are irrational" e.g. that we tend to persevere with an opinion once it is formed, so there is confirmation bias. In particular "resistance to changing our beliefs is especially strong when those beliefs are central to our identity". he mentioned the "backfire effect" - that people confronted with evidence contrary to their beliefs might be even more strongly convinced of their own belief in reation. There were numerous other challenges to digital literacy - for example, that social conformity affected decision making (so if extreme views are the norm, there is pressure to adopt them).
Julien proposed that it is necessary for educators to engage with the issues in classrtoom discussion, and teach people to teach digital literacy - including teaching library and information professionals. She listed various essentials (such as being taught about learning theory, online learning, assessement - I will just put in an advertisement here for the Information Literacy module I teach at Sheffield University iSchool which includes learning about teaching and covers some of this ;-)
There was an interesting discussion afterwards that touched on topics such as: librarians and neutrality; access and awareness; how filter bubbles may create an illusion of digital fluence (that because you can navigate your filter bubble well, you don't realise what you are missing and your lack of competence outside your bubble).
Thanks to the Department of Computer and Information Sciences at Strathclyde for organising this.

Connecting People Connecting Ideas and digital ways #CPCINapier

Today I’m at a seminar at Napier University, Scotland, organised by Professor Hazel Hall and Frances Ryan. It’s called Connecting People Connecting Ideas, and is focused on sharing ideas for research and identifying priorities.
Most of the day is about discussing the ideas, but it is starting with a talk from Simeon Yates, on Ways of being in a digital age. This is the title of an ESRC-funded research project https://waysofbeingdigital.com/ (which I see included someone from University of Sheffield, which demonstrates again that academics don’t know what’s going on in their own university, or that academics keep their research to themselves (or both ;-). The project has produced a report, but the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council, a major funding body in the UK) is still mulling it over (it commissioned it in order to steer its research priorities), so he was just able to indicate some themes.
He started by going back to Marshall McLuhan, with the idea that we would become connected, and Yates showed graphs indicating the growth in the numbers of communication media from prehistory to the present (obviously, with huge growth recently). He talked about the need for (and challenge of) interdisciplinary work. For example, the power of bringing together artists with people in information science and medicine, to look at a medical issue from a new perspective. He also emphasised the constants of culture and human interaction (e.g. gender differences in how peopel interact via txt msg is certainly not just to do with technology).
One of the foci for the project was probing the naure of digital inequality. He emphasised that some things that are associated with age/generation are actually cohort factors (e.g. young people may consume more digital media, but they also consume all sorts of other media, and it could be more to do with older people generally consuming less media because they have other things to do in their lives). He showed some interesting cluster analysis using Ofcom data, which e.g. showed the correlation with social class.
Another project he mentioned as I'd hide you (in which performers with webcams went round cities and tried to spot each other with enagagement from the public online: Yates mentioned a moment when the social/digital divide emerged starkly when a performer went to a good spot to hide and there were homeless people using that "hiding place" as a place to stay. That was an encounter between the digitally superserved and underserved. Yates was also referring to an Ofcom research project/report I have mentioned before on this bloog, which showed that although people with less money were apparently online, their dependence on what they could do on a mobile phone limited their options (e.g. they needed a better computer to fill in job seeker forms) and also didn't develop some useful skills.
He also looked at the various studies (again including a Pew study that I think I blogged here) that showed that people with different poltical opinions consumed and shared different media, with not a huge overlap. Finally he showed evidence that, whilst previous industrial changes had created different types of jobs, technological change did actually seem to meaqn reduction in jobs.
Photo by Sheila Webber: view out the window from the seminar!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

How can we all best use scientific evidence?

There was a lot of news coverage today of a report produced by the (UK) Academy of Medical Sciences, reporting on an inquiry into "how the generation, trustworthiness and communication of scientific evidence can be enhanced to strengthen its role in decisions by patients, carers, healthcare professionals and others about the benefits and harms of medicines." The key statistics that caught my attention were that "In a survey of 2,041 British adults, commissioned to inform the project, only about a third (37%) of the public said they trusted evidence from medical research, compared to approximately two-thirds (65%) who trusted the experiences of their friends and family." [extract from the summary report] I was trying to find more detail on this study on the AMS website, but have failed so far. Everyone seemed to be rather surprised by this finding, but in fact I think it chimes in with results of a good deal of Information Behaviour research which shows that people rely on advice from trusted personal sources.
The report focuses on making recommendations about how the evidence base could be improved and how the various stakeholders (including patients) could contribute to better health decisions. It includes (for example) messages for communicators "We believe researchers, research funders, universities and press officers should work together to help make sure that evidence about medicines is communicated accurately. We also believe that journalists should be aware of the potential impact on the public of the way they report health stories. Journalists could be better supported to report the results from research more accurately by clear markers – such as a traffic light system - on health press releases. Training for journalists and their editors could also help, and good practice guidelines for scientists, press officers and journalists should be drawn up or better followed where they already exist."
The website with reports, "case studies" (detailed examinations of examples including statins, and the MMR vaccine) and short videos is at http://acmedsci.ac.uk/policy/how-can-we-all-best-use-evidence
Photo by Sheila Webber: heron, Amsterdam, May 2017

Monday, June 19, 2017

#ACRLFramework for Information Literacy Toolkit launched

The ACRL Framework Advisory Board (FAB) has launched of the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy Toolkit. It takes the form of a free LibGuide and is focused around four "modules": Finding Time to Engage the Framework, The Framework’s Structure, Foundations of the Framework, and Strategies for Using the Framework. They say that "A fifth module, Collaboration and Conversations with the Framework, is currently in development." Each of these sections has: Guided Reading Activity, Discussion Prompts, Activities, Key Concepts, Key Readings, and some also have Handouts. They say that "Librarians can use the ACRL Framework Toolkit resources in a variety of ways: for their individual professional development needs; to form a community of practice with their colleagues around the Framework and information literacy; and to develop workshops and professional development opportunities in their libraries and also for local, regional, and state-level events and conferences." Go to
http://acrl.libguides.com/framework/toolkit
Photo by Sheila Webber: bowl and jewellery, June 2017

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Christine Bruce: Building information and learning experiences through partnerships

The AMICAL Consortium held its 2017 annual meeting and conference on 17–20 May at the American College of Thessaloniki, Greece with the theme of Centering on learning: Partnerships and professional development among librarians, faculty and technologists. There are videos and presentations available, and in particular I will highlight the keynote from Christine Bruce: Building information and learning experiences through partnerships (embedded below). Another talk very relevant to this blog was Interdisciplinarity, co-teaching, and information literacy from Elena Berg, Antonio Lopez, Linda Martz and Michael Stoepel
Links at https://www.amicalnet.org/conference/2017/schedule

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Recent articles: STEM infolit; data literacy; digital literacy; information behaviour of farmers and beggars

(open access) Harris, S.Y. (2017). Undergraduates’ assessment of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) information literacy instruction. IFLA Journal, 43(2), 171-186. http://www.ifla.org/files/assets/hq/publications/ifla-journal/ifla-journal-43-2_2017.pdf (this is a pdf of the whole issue)

(priced) articles from the Journal of Librarianship and Information science (volume 49, issue 1)
- Data literacy for researchers and data librarians by Tibor Koltay, pp. 3–14
- A study on the effect of digital literacy on information use behavior by Younghee Noh, pp. 26–56
- Information sources preference of poultry farmers in selected rural areas of Tanzania by Grace E.P. Msoffe, Patrick Ngulube, pp. 82–90
- An explanatory study into the information seeking-behaviour of Egyptian beggars by Essam Mansour, pp. 91–106
http://journals.sagepub.com/toc/lisb/49/1
Photo by Sheila Webber: wild strawberries, June 2017

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Backward Design for Information Literacy Instruction

A priced online course is: Backward Design for Information Literacy Instruction, a Library Juice Academy course taught by Andrea Baer. It runs July 3 2017- August 11th 2017 and the cost is US$250
"As librarians look increasingly to integrated models of information literacy (IL) instruction that reach far beyond the one-shot and the mechanics of searching, it is becoming ever more essential that we design instruction that foregrounds learning as an incremental and ongoing process. Backward design – which is an iterative process that begins with considering learning goals, then determining acceptable evidence of learning, and addressing those outcomes through sequenced activities - offers powerful ways to develop IL instruction that fosters critical thinking and habits of mind like inquisitiveness and reflection.
"In this 6-week course, participants will focus on three essential pieces of backward design – learning outcomes, assessment, and sequencing – and their applications for IL instruction. Throughout the course, students will dissect how these elements of backward design function in various activities and assignments, while simultaneously developing and refining their own activity, assignment, or lesson plan. Through weekly discussions and assignments, participants will reflect on course readings and instruction examples, share teaching experiences and ideas, and exchange constructive feedback on one another’s developing instruction plans."
More info at http://libraryjuiceacademy.com/110-backward-design.php
Photo by Sheila Webber: sage flowers in the garden, June 2017


Friday, June 09, 2017

Hepworth Festschrift: Information behaviour/Literacy, HIV/AIDS, Dementia, Mobile phones

The latest issue of the Aslib Journal of Information Management (priced publication) is a Festschrift in honour of Professor Mark Hepworth, who died last in December 2016. As it says in the introduction to the issue he "for many years pushed forward the boundaries in studies of people’s information behaviour and their information experience" ". In his last post he was Chair in People’s Information Behaviour at Loughborough University, UK. There is an obituary here. The picture is one I took of him presenting at the i3 conference in 2013.
The issue includes an article based on part of the findings from one of my graduated PhD students, Kondwani Wella, and coauthored with me and Professor Phillipa Levy:
Wella, K., Webber, S. and Levy, P. (2017). Myths about HIV and AIDS among serodiscordant couples in Malawi. Aslib Journal of Information Management, 69 (3),278 - 293.
The other articles are:
- Harland, J., Bath, P., Wainwright, A. and Seymour, J. (2017). Making sense of dementia: A phenomenographic study of the information behaviours of people diagnosed with dementia Aslib Journal of Information Management, 69 (3),261 - 277)
- Cibangu, S., Hepworth,M., and Champion, D. (2017) Mobile phones for development: An information case study of mobile phone kiosk vendors in the Congo Aslib Journal of Information Management, 69 (3),294 - 315.
- Kelechukwu Ibenne, S., Simeonova,B., Harrison, J and Hepworth M. An integrated model highlighting information literacy and knowledge formation in information behaviour Aslib Journal of Information Management, 69 (3), 316 - 334
- Foos, S., Majid, S. and Chang, Y.K. Assessing information literacy skills among young information age students in Singapore. Aslib Journal of Information Management, 69 (3), 335 - 353
- Taylor, L. and Willett, P. (2017). Comparison of US and UK rankings of LIS journals. Aslib Journal of Information Management, 69 (3), 354 - 367
Contents page at http://www.emeraldinsight.com/toc/ajim/69/3

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Webinar recordings: Community College/ infolit; living with the Framework

Recordings of two ACRL Student Learning Information Literacy Committee sponsored webinars are available:
- ACRL SLILC Framework for Information Literacy: A Community College Showcase (Recording from April 12, 2017: 3 panelists talk about how they are using the Framework): https://youtu.be/hTuerD9NA5M
- ACRL SLILC: Framework Freak-out: How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Live With the Framework (Recording of the June 1, 2017: talk by Meredith Farkas): https://youtu.be/sC66KgSBrd4
Photo by Sheila Webber: working in the park, Sheffield, June 2017

Two Paths Converge: Designing Educational Opportunities on the Intersections of Scholarly Communication and Information Literacy

There is an ACRL Roadshow taking place in the Albert B. Alkek Library at Texas State University, USA, on July 14, 2017: Two Paths Converge: Designing Educational Opportunities on the Intersections of Scholarly Communication and Information Literacy. "This is a full day workshop and attendees will gain a better understanding of the intersections of scholarly communication and information literacy and obtain the expertise to develop education and outreach initiatives that address the aspirations and needs of scholars, students, and researchers at their institutions." More info at http://bit.ly/ACRLIntersectionsRoadshow

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

New #openaccess articles:@JInfoLit anniversary issue: information literacy theory, discipline, learning and more!

The tenth anniversary of the open access journal Journal of Information Literacy has been celebrated with a bumper issue (volume 11 issue 1) of articles by information literacy experts from around the world.
The articles can all be accessed from the contents page at http://ojs.lboro.ac.uk/ojs/index.php/JIL/issue/view/185
They are:
- Information literacy: conceptions, context and the formation of a discipline by Sheila Webber, Bill Johnston (this is my blog so I'm highlighting the article by me ;-)
- Information literacy and informed learning: conceptual innovations for IL research and practice futures by Christine Susan Bruce, Andrew Demasson, Hilary Hughes, Mandy Lupton, Elham Sayyad Abdi, Clarence Maybee, Mary M Somerville, Anita Mirijamdotter
- Crossing the threshold: reflective practice in information literacy development by Sheila Corrall
- Lessons from Forty Years as a Literacy Educator: An Information Literacy Narrative by James Elmborg
- The Warp and Weft of Information Literacy: Changing Contexts, Enduring Challenges by Barbara Fister
- Posing the million dollar question: What happens after graduation? by Alison J. Head
- Information literacy and literacies of information: a mid-range theory and model by Annemaree Lloyd
- How can you tell if it’s working? Recent developments in impact evaluation and their implications for information literacy practice by Sharon Markless, David Streatfield
- Information Literacy: Agendas for a Sustainable Future by Ross J. Todd
- Information literacy is a subversive activity: developing a research-based theory of information discernment by Geoff Walton
Photo by Sheila Webber: rose "Sheila", June 2017

Monday, June 05, 2017

Random sample video from @pewresearch #researchmethods

The Pew Research Center conducts good quality research into aspects of (US) American life, and I have highlighted numerous of their reports about Americans' use of the internet, social media etc. They seem to have started a series about research methods, and the first is a short (2 mins 25 second) video about random samples. Obviously they can't cram a complete description of sampling into under 3 minutes, but it is a nice introduction. When teaching research methods, I find that the fact that "random" can mean "any old thing" in ordinary language can prevent people from realising that random samples are definitely not composed of whatever sample happens to come along. The introduction and video are at http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/05/12/methods-101-random-sampling/ and I have also embedded it below



Saturday, June 03, 2017

Qualifikationsprofil des Teaching Librarian

On the same theme as yesterday: from the German Library Conference tweets I picked up a link to:
Scholle, U. (2016). Qualifikationsprofil des Teaching Librarian: Positionspapier der Gemeinsamen Kommission Informationskompetenz von VDB und dbv. o-bib, 3(1). https://www.o-bib.de/article/view/2016H1S71-73 [in German] [open access]
This roughly translates to: qualification profile of a teaching librarian: position paper from the VDB and dbv's [German library/information associations] joint commission on information literacy. It is intended to address formal learning and continuing professional development. The tables at the end list subject knowledge and personal competencies that are seen as required. They propose differentiating the competencies, depending on the type of library and level of study (in information/library school: in Germany many qualifications still vary, I think, according to the library or information sector being targeted).
Photo by Sheila Webber: rhododendron, May 2017

Friday, June 02, 2017

Roles and Strengths of Teaching Librarians

A month ago (apologies for missing it) ACRL published Roles and Strengths of Teaching Librarians, "a revision of the 2007 ACRL Standards for Proficiencies for Instruction Librarians and Coordinators". The roles are: advocate, coordinator, instructional designer, lifelong learner, leader, teacher, and teaching partner. "The purpose of the roles is to conceptualize and describe the broad nature and variety of the work that teaching librarians undertake as well as the related characteristics which enable librarians to thrive within those roles. These seven roles, which can and do overlap, are intended to help librarians situate our individual work experiences within the broader work of academic libraries and within academic communities, as well as suggest creative new areas for expansion."
The document could be useful for discussion about current and futures roles (training, goals etc.), and I think I will also use it next year in educating about teaching information literacy, as a complement to the Wheeler and McKinney (2015) article which outlines four conceptions of the role of the librarian in teaching.
I think I would have brought together the Teacher and Instructional Designer roles (either under Teacher or under Educator) though this may partly be an issue of UK vs. US educational terminology (I think in the UK we use the word teacher more broadly and we avoid the "instruction" word).
Go to http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/teachinglibrarians
Reference: Wheeler, E., and Mckinney, P. (2015). Are librarians teachers? Investigating academic librarians’ perceptions of their own teaching roles. Journal of Information Literacy, 9(2), 111–128. http://doi.org/10.11645/9.2.1985
Diagram copyright ACRL

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Improving Library and Information Services: Phenomenographically!

There are still some priced places (£60) available on the one-day workshop on phenomenography I am running with colleagues on 13 June 2017 here in the Information School Sheffield University, UK. (all the free IL Group places are gone, I'm afraid). It is called Improving Library and Information Services: Phenomenographically! and is an introduction to phenomenography for anyone in the library/information field. The colleagues with whom I am running the workshop are: Bill Johnston, Lauren Smith, Eva Hornung and Emily Wheeler, so a stellar lineup ;-)
More information, and registration at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/improving-library-and-information-services-phenomenographically-tickets-33848126658
Photo by Sheila Webber: a wall in the Sheffield Methods Institute.