Thursday, October 31, 2013

CongRegation: blog-your-way-in

An interesting meeting on social media in Cong, County Mayo, Ireland on 30 November 2013, CongRegation. "CongRegation is a one day ‘un-conference’ social media gathering ... This free 'earned entry' event focuses on peer to peer sharing of quality information and social media insights through a ‘huddle’ style collaborative structure." "A Huddle is a small grouping of people with an insight to share - in a naturally social setting. Each huddle will be made up of no more than 10 people clustered around tables in either coffee shops, bars, restaurants and exhibition spaces all within walking distance of each other." In order to attend, you have to do a blog post on one of their key themes and then be willing to talk about it in a Huddle.
To judge from the sponsors, this was organised by people in the internet/PR area, but certainly librarians and information literacy specialists could blog to the themes. Also, more broadly (and as a committed blogger) I think it's a nice format that could be used in other unconferences. Hmmm, it could certainly work in Sheffield .... More info at
Thanks to @LAICDGroup for tweeting about this event.
Photo by Sheila Webber: an essential accompaniment to blogging - turkish coffee at Arasta Bazaar, Istanbul, October 2013

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


WILU (the Canadian information literacy conference) will be at Western University in London Ontario, Canada, May 21 -23 2014. The conference thme is E-magine the Possibilities. There is a call for papers, the deadline for proposal submissions is December 9, 2013. Possible topics include:
e-learning: have you explored any opportunity in e-Learning, such as using social media in information literacy classes, teaching with mobile-devices, or developing e-Learning best practices?
e-volving: how is your information literacy instruction evolving? Are you involved in a Makerspace? Are you exploring multiliteracies or new models of critical information literacy? Or do you see emerging trends in collaborative learning?
e-valuating: how are you assessing your students? What types of practical and rigorous assessment strategies have you explored? How does your assessment change with e-Learning related instruction?
e-magining: where is information literacy instruction headed? How can information literacy librarians take advantage? How can we move forward with change together, in a learning community?
There can be proposals for presentations, posters, ignite (pecha kucha) presentations and workshops. More information at
Photo by Sheila Webber: Blue Mosque, Istanbul, October 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

200 search engines

Phil Bradley has made a neat collection of links using the Pearltrees application. He has categorised the search engines e.g. similarity search, news, multimedia.
This is the page on Pearltrees and this is Phil's blog post
Photo by Sheila Webber: cat in Istanbul, near the Blue Mosque, October 2013

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Onward to ECIL2014! #ecil2013

I haven't finished blogging the European Conference on Information Literacy,apart from anything else I have to blog my own presentation, workshop and poster, but I will report quickly on the closing moments. The final tally of delegates was 367 from 59 countries.There was generally a warm feeling of success about the conference, and the good news is that ECIL 2014 is planned for roughly the same time next year in the historic city of Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Perceived Barriers in Relation to Health and Lifestyle Information among Icelanders #ecil2013

The penultimate talk in a session on workplace/ everyday IL, was Perceived Barriers in Relation to Health and Lifestyle Information among Icelanders by Ágústa Pálsdóttir at the European Conference on Information Literacy. I am afraid that I was by now feeling a bit weary, since the day started with my workshop (which I will blog later) and then a poster session (which I also participated in) and then a rather long session (and no lunch until 3.15pm!) Therefore I am unlikely to do this speaker justice.
The speaker was reporting on a study carried out in 2012, with a sample of 1200 Icelanders, which used a questionnaire to ask about information seeking. The respondents were categorised into enthusiastic, convential, contemporary and inactive searchers. There were some barriers which were very problematic to all of them i.e. difficulties getting away from home to seek information and cost of acquiring information. Overall, external barriers were seen as more problematic than internal ones. The barriers found most problematic by everyone was that it was difficult to find information with good advice about health protection, followed (I think) by information being hard to understand. The extent to which people experienced barriers varied with the categorisation.

These articles report on a similar, earlier study:
Pálsdóttir, Á. (2008). "Information behaviour, health self-efficacy beliefs and health behaviour in Icelanders' everyday life" Information Research, 13(1) paper 334.
Pálsdóttir, Á. (2009). "Seeking information about health and lifestyle on the Internet" Information Research, 14(1) paper 389.

Tranforming Information Literacy Knowledge and Skills across Practices #ecil2013

Tranforming Information Literacy Knowledge and Skills across Practices Camilla Moring at the European Conference on Information Literacy. She espoused a socio-cultural approach to IL. She questioned the idea of transfer as moving skills/knowledge from one part of life to another, as the skills/knowledge was tied to the specific practice context in which they were developed. Her ideas were informed by a research study that was looking at transition from school to university in Denmark. This aimed to improve general academic study competencies at school, as preparation for university. The competencies (divided into subject and general competencies) did not explicitly include IL, but some items in the competencies could be identified as parts of IL. Ability to seek and evaluate information was listed as a general competence whereas one could argue it is a subject competence.
In a pilot study, 8 students were interviewed at school, 4 of whom were able to go on to university (and were interviewed again), and the teachers were also interviewed, as well as documentation being examined.
Moring went on to define transfer as "the use of knowledge and skills learned in one context to qualify actions in another" - undepinning this are ideas such as - that there are general principles which can be used in both contexts. However, Moring put forward the idea of transfer of practice, which took account of social and symbolic elements that were associated with practice.
She presented a triangle of meaning (discourses, narratives etc. of the situation and practice), materials (transport, access, distribution) and competence (requiring transformation, recontextualisation and adapation). So with the example of the students: meaning for them when still at school was learning to use subject related methods, competence was related to subject knowledge and methods, and the materials were articles and a variety of other things. However, when they went to university, students were confused about meaning, and the competences they felt they needed were related to things such as "structure and write assignments", but they were struggling to fit their existing knowledge in this new situation. Also the materials they were using were more limited in university.
This all has implications for how (or indeed, whether) this practice can travel across contexts.

mpowering through Information Culture: Participatory Culture, a Stepping Stone? A Theoretical Reflection #ecil2013

Empowering through Information Culture: Participatory Culture, a Stepping Stone? A Theoretical Reflection was the next paper, from Yolande Maury, at the European Conference on Information Literacy.
Firstly she noted that statements about IL talked about empowerment and participation, but with some lack of definitions. "Empowerment" itself was an ambiguous concept with the ideas of power to act and of development in order to have impact; however "action is not enough" - there was a need to understand the links between action and the context in which you take action. The speaker also identified a lack of definition when talking about "power" of information. There might be various forms of power e.g. as a catalyst for change, as an emancipatory process; there was some logic in liking these ideas with shared knowledge using social media.
Maury noted the new relationships with media, markets and audiences, and the resultant claims about the potential of new media, with the idea that people could act and communicate, and be co-creators and actors in the process. So, was this really a new possibility or "a form of policy marketing speak"? For example, social media were seen as implicitly as interactive, even though now research studies show that not everyone uses these tools as creators or in a truly interactive way. "Community" is also seen as something desirable: whereas one might trouble that idea.
Maury said that (for example) "action is not a guarantee of empowerment" and that there was a confusion between consumption and contribution. She felt is was necessary to take an information view of this process.
The challenges she put forward included "providing tools for thinking in a comprehensive and generic way" which might (for example) include developing a new common language about this area of communicating and participating; "a (re)configuration of information culture in a more cultural and holistic way" (bearing mind that la culture d'information is the more holistic translation of information literacy, in French).
Photo by Sheila Webber: Flower circlets in Taksim Square, Istanbul, October 2013 (these are apparently worn by young girls)

Is Information Literacy Enough for a Knowledge Worker? #ecil2013

Katarzyna Materska talked about Is Information Literacy Enough for a Knowledge Worker? at the European Conference on Information Literacy.
She identified the paucity of research in the workplace IL field and the presented the concept of IL in an educational setting (which she saw as focusing more on skills, and textual information). However, she identified the changes that affected IL and the need to take account of different contexts.
Moving on to the knowledge worker lens, she identified the role of IL in workplace learning outside specifically educational settings. Knowledge workers were characterised as developing knowledge through long practice, with the outputs of their work often being non-material, who like to work both colaboratively and individually. She concluded that workers needed to be creative, understanding situations, questioning, adaptive and problem solving (amongst other things). Although they were thinking beings, they also had the mental and emotional states that everyone goes through. The latter point means that people do not always use information logically.
She portayed knowledge as an iceberg, with tacit knowledge that people have about their lives and practice below the iceberg's waterline, with a smaller amount of explicit knowledge visible above the water line. Materska saw organisations as "knowledge ecosystems" with knowledge emerging through "connections, dialog and social interaction", and learning being a form of social interaction. Materska identified the importance of IL to knowledge management (something which I emphasise with my information management students!) and highlighted that this included being information literate with the tacit/social sources of knowledge. Like Lloyd in the previous speech she say human relationships being key in the development of IL. She also posed the idea of knowledge literacy rather than information literacy.
Photo by Sheila Webber: Taksim Square, Istanbul, October 2013

Building Information Resilient Workers: The Critical Ground of Workplace Information Literacy. What have we Learnt? #ecil2013

Building Information Resilient Workers: The Critical Ground of Workplace Information Literacy. What have we Learnt? was presented todat by Annemaree Lloyd (Charles Sturt University) at the European Conference on Information Literacy.
In the workplace IL is not generally considered “real” labour: however now work is being reshaped. Increasingly, it is taking place collaboratively, with the use of technology, needing workers to draw on varied information landscape, so the multimodal workplace really needs information literacy. It requires workers who can cope with the overload and uncertainty caused by information-intensive workplaces. She said that in her research information literacy connected people in their workplace, including the performative aspect of work. Workers needed information resilience, a term she put forward for discussion. They needed to understand the skills and knowledge required to innovate and to solve workplace problems.
Lloyd went on to discuss issues “in the critical ground of workplace information literacy research”. Her first lesson was that “workplace is a situated practice”, characterised by people engaged in the pursuit of a particular activity. Lesson 2 was that “information needs are referenced against normative and non normative dimensions” (e.g. nurses having to pay attention to information practices determined by doctors). Lesson 3 was that "work is a collective endeavour", with value placed on collective knowledge. Lesson 4 was that "performance of work requires other information modalities" (e.g. drawing on knowledge of corporeal practice). Thus IL emerges as a social practice, which means negotiating practice, working out the shape of practice and associated knowledge. Lloyd talked about a “People In Practice Approach” to IL (there is a website, but I didn't catch the address, I will aim to post it later)
So, Lloyd identified that IL was articulation work that drew people together, and fundamental to workplace practice. She saw challenges for librarians in supporting people transitioning between education to work, or between workplaces. Turning current workplace research into guidelines that can be used in the workplace was also seen as important.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Information Literacy Research and Practice: An Experiential Perspective #ecil2013

The second keynote talk at the European Conference on Information Literacy was Information Literacy Research and Practice: An Experiential Perspective from Christine Bruce. I know a lot about some of what she was talking about, but some areas were new and I needed to stop and think rather than blog. Therefore I certainly haven't captured everything in her presentation (and apologies for any misinterpretations)!
Bruce started by identifying experience as "something profound" and she said that she would talk about IL phenomenographically. (Phenomenography is a research approach which aims to identify variations in conception or experience of a phenomenon (a research approach I have used too). Bruce was focusing particularly on research work of her group, in her examples. She first highlighted Yates' work that discovered that health IL was experienced in a variety of ways such as "knowing myself" or "striving for wellness". The second example (from research by Gunton) was investigating religious IL, experienced e.g. as "growing faith" or "serving the community". Thirdly she mentioned a study of native American IL where IL may (for example) be experienced as "a communal, shared information experience...". All these examples were shedding light on the richness and variety of people's experience of information literacy and learning.
From her perspective IL "may be said to be about the experience of using information to learn" (a position that she unfolds in her book, Informed Learning).
Going back to earlier days, Bruce looked at early motivators for engagement with IL research. She named, amongst other things, the belief that information literacy changes lives, that it is relevant to life and a source of empowerment. She put forward two different early orientations for IL,with a "healthy tension" between the two: the first encouraging conformity, and the second valuing diversity.
Bruce revisited her most well-known piece of research, in which she investigated the conceptions of IL of staff at Australian universities and discovered 7 qualitatively different ways of experiencing IL (the "7 Faces"). For this presentation she highlighted the shift from information being at the core of the experience in faces 1-4, whereas she saw learning as the core focus in faces 5-7. She also identified that variously people experienced information as objective, subjective, or transformational. Bruce talked through the outcome space for the research (see rather poor photo I took, above): you can find an explanation and the original face diagrams here
Bruce moved on to talk about taking an experiential approach to education, which means acknowledging varying experiences, and focusing on enabling learners to experience in new ways. She also noted that "information can take surprising forms" - for example even silence and stillness. Also experiences "are deeper and more powerful and may contextualise skills" and skills may or may not be important as part of the experience. Technology could "skew" perception of information literacy experience. (There were other points in this section of the talk that I didn't capture)
Bruce then moved to current research, noting "diversification and expansion in the research territory". She talked some more about IL as informed learning, and provided a definition (see here), and referred to the six frames for IL education approach. The key publication on the six frames is available as an eprint here:
Bruce emphasisied this involved "turning our eyes" from having information capabilities, to focus on the experience of using information to learn.
She revisited the health information literacy and faith community research she had mentioned at the start of the talk, looking at the variations concerning the conceptions of learning and information (which were part of the analysis structure). At this point I was concentrating even more on what Christine was saying, so I haven't tried to blog the details ;-)  I refer you to Bruce's eprints page for original articles on this research:,
In conclusion Bruce emphasised the "fundamental interdisciplinarity" of IL, and that she felt that we need to understand more deeply "what matters", for example: how do we help people change their lives? how does IL transform and empower? It was important to pay attention to diverse peoples. She gave an example from Auraria Library, where the community was invited to share their information experiences, by creating an archive and working on IL with the community (I think part of this initiative).
Altogether, Bruce was stressing the transformational nature of IL, and the importance of addressing big issues (such as poverty and homelessness) and big questions in our research and practice.

Web Resources Credibility; Teacher's role as facilitator #ecil2013

Earlier today Ana Lúcia Terra presented on Strategies to Assess Web Resources Credibility: Results of a Case Study in Primary and Secondary Schools from Portugal, a paper co-authored with Salvina Sáthe, at the European Conference on Information Literacy.
She started by talking about different models of web credibility assessment, variously concentrating on authors, affiliation, comparison with other sources etc. The authors produced an omline questionnaire, administered in 7 schools in the Oporto district of Portugal; there were 195 respondents, aged between 11 and 19. They asked them about what criteria the students used in evaluating websites. The top criterion was "Ease of navigating the website" (chosen by 76%), the 2nd was "appealing design", 3rd was "Information about last update", then "author is identified" (chsoen by 19%), finally "there is music I like" (respondents could choose 2 items).
In another question, 33% students stated they looked for identification of the author in a website. 62% said that did know that author name was an important element to consider, with email and Facebook contacts also considered useful. 79% of students said they considered website originality, whilst 84% said they assessed website design (for example looking for information in thematic blocks, and correct grammar and spelling). The authors hope to use the results to plan training in evaluation.

Teacher's Role as the Facilitator of Collaborative Learning in Information Literacy Assignments #ecil2013

Eero Sormunen presented on Teacher's Role as the Facilitator of Collaborative Learning in Information Literacy Assignments (co-authored with Tuulikki Alamettälä and Jannica Heinström) at the European Conference on Information Literacy this afternoon. This was reporting on part of a study in upper high schools in Finland (students aged 16-17 years). I have blogged about some other findings from this study (for example, how the students work with wikipedia in their studies) but in this paper the focus was on the teacher's role.

The presenter noted that group work source-based writing assignments are popular for information literacy teaching. However, an issue is: how are these interventions designed and taught? In some cases the focus is on the end product (e.g. a report) rather than the process of aquiring, selecting and using the information. The researchers were investigating differences in teaching and assessment in two different source-based writing assignments (one in a history class, one in a Literature class), questioning whether differences in learning were associated with different approaches to teaching. In both cases, groups of students had to produce a wiki entry on a topic.

Data was collected through questionnaires, interviews with students and teachers, observation, and documents such as class instructions. Students were asked to state their level of learning in the stated learning outcomes for the 2 classe. The literature students said that they understood better the differences between wiki and other sources, the nature of wikipedia and how to refer to sources, and on average rated the learning experience higher.

Comparing the two classes' research design, there were differences in publishing forum (Wikipedia itself for Literature), topic scope (narrower for Literature students), preliminary activities (the Literature students did an essay on the chosen novel before the wiki exercise), modeling the end-topic (the Literature students had explicit teaching about wiki structure) and time allocated (5 weeks for Literature, vs 2 weeks for history). Looking at interactivity, there were more teacher initiated and student initiated interactions (face to face and virtually) in the Literature class.
Overall it was noted that learning experiences were quite weak in most areas of IL, with the strongest learning experiences in the areas were teachers intervened, where the students made most effort, and which were mosdt clearly planned in teaching.
There is more information on the whole project at
Photo by Sheila Webber: You don't seem to have any food for me, cat, Istanbul, October 2013

National Information Literacy Survey of Primary and Secondary School Students in Singapore #ecil2013

Intan Azura Mokhtar presented on National Information Literacy Survey of Primary and Secondary School Students in Singapore - A Pilot Study, co-authored with Yun-Ke Chang, Shaheen Majid, Schubert Foo and Yin-Leng Theng and Xue Zhangthe, at the European Conference on Information Literacy. My poor quality photo shows the end of her presentation.
She started by talking about Singapore (those of you who followed my IFLA posts will know something about it) - it is a young, developed nation with a high literacy rate. Every school has a school loibrary, but not every library has a qualified librarian. They are proposing a model for IL competence in Singapore schools. As well as five components (e.g. selecting information sources), they also identified 3 qualities: Collaboration, social responsibility and positive attitudes. This fits with a Singaporean focus on active citizenship. Recent policy changes have emphasised 21st century competencies including information literacy and critical thinking.
However IL tends to be interwoven into policy initiatives rather than standing on its own. Therefore they wanted to present a model of IL for the school curriculum to the Ministry for Education. To achieve this they planned to do a pilot study, initially doing a pen and paper pilot study to assess IL. The pilot was small, but they have already followed up on this with a larger study. They have identified that pen and paper questionnaires are not so good for assessing qualities, it really needs observation.
From the pilot of grade 3 students (I think, primary school), the most difficult questions were selecting information sources, seeking & evaluating information from sources, and defining the information task. Some of the inferences for the baseline data collection and designing the intervention programme are:
- children may not have been taught about fiction and non-fiction books, or be introduced to parts of a book
- more than 95% having internet access, so that they may think that information is largely available through online sources
- they may not see the value of print sources
- not able to understand the components and purpose of different sources (e.g. if you want current news, where do you go)
For slightly older (grade 5) children, the most difficult questions included synthesising and using information. Inferences included that students were not aware of how books and other library materials were organised, and they relied on online sources.
At grade 9, they did not know how to cite, or use keywords, and were not so good at evaluating information (depending on views of friends, rather than family or teachers). They did not use librarians, and were quite confident in their own IL abilities.
From these results, they are considering the role of the school librarian and the role of school libraries: in Singapore there have been a lot of developments, but school libraries have not changed so much.

Information Literacy in Europe: Ten Years Later #ecil2013

Sirje Virvus (Tallinn University) talked about Information Literacy in Europe: Ten Years Later following up from her much-cited 2003 paper, at the European Conference on Information Literacy. She started by summarising conclusions from the 2003 paper (which is linked below). She went on to talk about her doctoral work, an exploratory study of online distance learning in higher education in Europe, with the research question What is the nature of successful information literacy educational practice and what are the factors which influence this?
There is a reference below (Virkus, 2012) which gives some information from this work. She used a mixed methods approach. She carried out an email study of people in European Association of Distance Teaching Universities, getting 71 respondents.
She then did case studies in six universities in 5 European countries and her data collection included interviews with a sample of academics, students and librarians. The results showed that their were promising developments, but progress was patchy and variable. She concluded that the integration of Information Related Competencies (IRC) into curricula was a the "beginning stage": academics, or academics and librarians, were incorporating IRC into courses, but there was not enough evidence to identify "best practice" in most areas.
One issue (apart from the usual ones of lack of time etc.) was the modular nature of the distance learning courses.Another conclusion that Virkus drew was that the concept of Information Literacy was perceived as useful by the participants, but that the term itself was a barrier. Also participants noted that IL was not included in key policy documents at the national and European level. It emerged how important individuals (such as library managers) were bringing about IL developments.
In the end she identified four dimensions influencing the development of IRC: Strategic, professional, educational and research; "a complex interaction of factors in each of these dimensions enhance the development of IRC".
Looking at other people's publications, Virkus showed how the number of publications about information literacy has grown since 2013,and although the USA, UK and Australia are the top 3 countries for authorship, there were many more publications from a wide variety of countries, than there had been 10 years ago. At ECIL itself there are 126 presentations from 31 countries, with co-authorship from different countries. Another trend she noted is the better recognition that "one size does not fit all" in teaching information literacy, with an emphasis on context and more attention to the socio-political issues. IL is also better embedded in European policy and strategy documents (though not always by that name). However there is still a lack of a holistic approach to IL in European higher education.

- Virkus, S. (2012) Information Literacy from the Policy and Strategy Perspective. Nordic journal of information literacy in Higher Education, 4 (1).
- Virkus, S. (2003) "Information literacy in Europe: a literature review." Information Research, 8(4), paper no. 159
Photo by Sheila Webber: purposeful cat, Istanbul, October 2013

Game Based Learning for Information Literacy Instruction #ecil2013

Andrew Walsh has put his slides and handout on "Game Based Learning for Information Literacy Instruction", presented at the European Conference on Information Literacy online at

Theory of Action and Information Literacy: Critical Assessment towards Effective Practice #ecil2013

Paulette Kerr talked about Theory of Action and Information Literacy: Critical Assessment towards Effective Practice at the European Conference on Information Literacy. She quoted Argyris and Schon (1974) talking about reflective practice and their Theory of Action, in which they distinguish between espoused theory (beliefs, assumptions or expressed beliefs) and theory-in-use (the theory or beliefs implied by actual behaviour). You can infer theories-in-use by examining actions. One can evaluate theories of action by identifying congruence between espoused theories and theories in use: if used as part of action research this would include a reflective cycle.
Kerr's doctoral work used TOA to examine the espoused and in use theory about Information Literacy of 11 academic libraries in the USA. The data she collected included policy documents, learning strategies, handouts, online tutorials and 12 interviews. She identified institutional claims and then aggregated claims about espoused theory and theories in practice. So the espoused theories included statements about knowledge oputcomes, academic success, critical thinking etc. However, examining the online tutorials revealed incongruence and well as congruence e.g. a source approach, a focus on a few aspects of IL in theories-in-use.
Her dissertation Conceptions and practice of information literacy in academic libraries: Espoused theories and theories-in-use is published by Dissertation Abstracts/Proquest
Photo by Sheila Webber: Blue Mosque, Istanbul, October 2013

Participatory Action Research - a questionnaire! #ecil2013

This morning Jesus Lau presented Participatory Action Research and Information Literacy: Revising an Old New Hope for Research and Practice, co-authored with Juan D. Machin-Mastromatteo and Sirje Virkus at the European Conference for Information Literacy. Kurt Lewin was given as originating Action Research in the 1930s/1940s: there was a quote which indicated that it was about "developing practical knowing in the pursuit of worthwhile human purposes, grounded in a participatory worldview". I found it interesting that it sounded as though the origins of Action Research was more radical than it seems to have become in some of the more routine action research studies (e.g. in education). Therefore the current idea of Participatory Action Research seems to be returning to the original spirit of action research. In all cases those involved are called on to reflect on their practice, take some action to achieve change, and then reflect again on the impact of the change. Participatory AR puts emphasis on the active participation of all those involved in the research process. Therefore if you are carrying out PAR with students you would be doing more than simply having them in a focus group afterwards, they could be involved in planning the PAR and morfe actively in data collection and interpretation. As it said on one of the slides "Researcher works with participants from their own knowledge, mediating common understandings building upon the knowledge, practices and realities of all involved".

Part of the presentation was justifying PAR as a valid research approach (as opposed to a positivist view which would dismiss it as "subjective"). However I'm sure no readers of this blog are foolish enough to dismiss qualitative research as "subjective" so I won't rehearse those arguments here ;-)

The authors are investigating "In what ways can PAR contribute to the development of a research and practice IL agenda?" and have set up a questionnaire to collect people's views. You can find the questionnaire at :
Photo by Sheila Webber: flags in the sun, Istanbul, October 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Research data literacy #ecil2013

Renee Schneider (Haut Ecole de Gestion, Switzerland) talked about Research data literacy earlier today at ECIL. He defined Research Data Management (RDM) (I will refer here to an RDM research project of my colleagues RDMRose). RDM is interested in raw data (as opposed to information) but obviously there is a relationship between them. The speaker identified that keeping the link between the data and its context is vitally important, or reuse becomes difficult. He identified the skills of RD literacy as being: Identify, scope, plan, store, protect, evaluate, manage, provide. He felt that any Bachelor student would need to be able to identify and provide, which might be covered in a couple of hours of teaching, whereas library students or higher degree students would need the full programme. He mapped out the different curricula using the metaphor of a metro line map, representing the different classes or programmes by different types of ticket (hopefully the pictures will give the idea)

Polymathic Information Literacy: deconstructing what it means to be interdisciplinarily literate #ecil2013

Earlier today at the ECIL conference in Istanbul, Robert Labaree (University of Southern California, USA) talked about Polymathic Information Literacy: deconstructing what it means to be interdisciplinarily literate. He was reporting on a study in which he asked the question: What are the information-related strategies needed to develop interdisciplinary skills? The speaker examined academic articles on interdisciplinarity, and statements from integrative classes, and programmes promoting interdisciplinarity. He identified some key learning objectives that recurred in the literature and for each of them he highlighted some sub-objectives that he thought were particularly aligned with information literacy (with particular emphasis on the information seeking aspect of IL). The learning objectives were: creative thinking, integrative learning and synoptic problem-solving, epistemological proficiency, collaborative enquiry, and comprehend and appreciate working with complexity. I didn’t have time to note down the aspects that he highlighted.
The speaker proposed some competencies for IL in interdisciplinarity, using each of the learning objectives listed above. Again, I did not have time to note down many of these, but for example “Locates accesses and evaluates contrarian ideas and perspectives” is one of the items for Creative Thinking (see also the picture of his slide, above) and “Recognises and can apply the preferred units if analysis methods and validation criteria of other disciplines” for Epistemological Proficiency. At the end of the presentation, the speaker emphasised that the competencies and outcomes had not been tested or put into practice, and that different learning outcomes might be needed for different study levels.
It was interesting to hear about an interdisciplinary approach rather than a discipline-specific one, and I hope to read more detail about this.

The influence of technological changes on the definition of information literacy #ecil2013

Earlier today Pavla Kovarova and Iva Zadrazilova (Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic) talked about The influence of technological changes on the definition of information literacy at the European Conference on Information Literacy
They identified different ways of interpreting the information society e.g. economically or socially, but the technological approach was the one they took for this presentation. They argued that Information Technology (IT) simplified many information activities (they gave an example of using technology to calculate complicated mathematical formulae) and IL was closely associated with IT. They saw IT and IL hand in hand.
They also asked whether IL is an umbrella term? The answer seemed to be yes, but with concerns that more recent ones made the link with new media more evident. As literacies linked to technology they included Media Literacy and Network Literacy. They put forward the term New Literacies (which I have mentioned her on the blog before, since my colleagues in the Education School direct the Centre for the Study of New Literacies)
The speakers contended that “each new technology weakens or changes or existing definitions”, for which they gave the example of the aspect of IL about selecting and evaluating, where in digital or computer literacy the equivalent aspects are restricted (my word, not theirs) to the computers or software. Overall, they felt that an information society could not exist without IT and it was a question of whether to redefine IL.
Photo by Sheila Webber: charms in the Arasta market, Istanbul, October 2013

Paul Zurkowski @ #ecil2013

Paul Zurkowski is famous as being the person who coined the term "information literates" in his much-cited paper, written as President of the Information Industry Association (IIA). He was the first keynote speaker at the ECIL speaking on Towards Universal Information Literacy: The Economic and Social Building Blocks.
I show him surrounded by his fans at the start of the session ;-)
He started by talking about the time when he wrote the famous paper - he reminded us that at that time there were no mobile phones, desk top computers etc. He pointed out that in those early days there were new information products, but "trained incapacity to use those products". Learning to use information products, becoming information literate, seemed a way to help economic and international growth. Since then IL has advanced, and he acknowledged all the work done since then. Zurkowski talked about his experience of meeting young people who were learning about IL, and how excited they were by it: he felt that there were generations of young people who had missed out on this. He said that IL when fully realised "is indeed a work of art".

Zurkowski noted that there were about 50 types of literacy mentioned on the programme and there were different varieties of IL: like an IL genome project, you could see different ideas of IL mapped out in the presentations. At that point he asked for questions, which included my own about whether there was anything from the pioneer spirit of the early days of the online information industry that he thought we might miss today (I was speaking as someone involved in the early days of the UK online information industry). He said that he felt librarians could rekindle that pioneer spirit, with information literacy.

Moving into the second part of the paper he felt that we (the people at the conference) should be helping people meet the current economic and social challenges, and challenge disuptive forces of economic inequality. As the IIA was an early adapter to technological change, he saw information literacy people as being early adapters who could meet the current changes. Zurkowski talked about William Tyndale as an early hero who challenged those who had control of how information was published and distributed. He also talked about more current issues on information and democracy in the USA.

Zurkowski talked about a plan to form a commission of information literacy professionals to support citizens: referring to Benjamin Franklin's society for useful knowledge, with practical committees to discuss what to do about specific issues. He noted that politics are local, so under this plan each library or community association would need a "hunter" to address their local concerns. The commission would provide some quality check and endorsement about the verity or lack of bias in the information gathered. The culture of pampheteering (in digital form) could be copied from Franklin's commisson. He has met with a regional library in the USA who is going to do a beta test of this idea. In this way he saw the pioneering spirit rekindled.

There was a further question session, but my netbook's battery is about to die, so I will finish at this point. I certainly found it fascinating to hear this keynote talk.

I-Learn information literacy for learning #ecil2013

Delia Neuman talked about I-Learn information literacy for learning in Istanbul at the European Conference on Information Literacy. She wanted to draw on instructional design (learning) and IL theories. She presented the ILearn model as a circular model of Identify, locate, evaluate, apply, reflect and kNow. She paid particular attention to the last stages, as they are most concerned with constructing understanding and integrating into your own knowledge base. The speaker aknowledged the thinkers who influenced her ideas: from information science Wilson, Buckland and Marchionini; and from instructional systems design Gagne, Merrill, Kozma, and Anderson & Krathwohl. The model has been used in the school classroom, at the primary and secondary level, and at university level.
There are a lot of articles about this model, so rather than try to describe it myself, I will refer you to one of the following:
- Neuman, D. (2012) I-Learn: a tool for using information for learning. Library Media Connection.
- Neuman, D. (2011) Constructing Knowledge in the Twenty-First Century: I-LEARN and Using Information as a Tool for Learning. School Library Research. 14.
Photo by Sheila Webber: Mosaic museum, Istanbul, October 2013

Information Literacy (IL) model and its application #ecil2013

Li Wang (University of Aukland) talked about an Information Literacy (IL) model and its application this afternoon at the European Conference on Information Literacy in Istanbul. The UoA has 4 campuses, 245 library and learning staff (including 50 subject librarians!) and she was talking about an IL integration model. The academic course coordinators, with support of Heads of Department are vital parts of the model, when thinking "who" needs to be involved (see 2nd picture, sorry it is rather blurred). The first picture shows that there are also what and how dimensions. This model has been used for three years at the University of Aukland (and the model arose from her PhD work).
Collaborations is very important with principles of shared understanding, shared knowledge, joint dialogue with respect and tolerance, and joint efforts with trust and support. She gave an example of collaborating with engineering staff to develop activities and assessment modes.
The speaker also gave an example of combining theories of information and learning to progress learning in a curriculum. They have developed IL curriculum programme for subject librarians based on this model too: this is compulsory forsubject librarians.
There are relevant publications e.g.:
Li Wang, (2011) "An information literacy integration model and its application in higher education", Reference Services Review, 39 (4), 703 - 720. Abstract at and eprint version here:

Media and Information Literacy and its kind #ecil2013

This morning at the European Conference on Information Literacy Albert Boekhorst, in his presentation Media and Information Literacy (MIL) and its kind talked about his perspective on the MIL concept. He explained how, in the information space, you rely on observation as well as memory devices and traditional forms of information exchange. There are barriers to getting information: economic, political, affective, cognitive and personal characteristics.
Therefore it is a matter of “survival of the fittest”, in a Darwinian sense, and Albert contended that Information Literacy (IL) was a way of ensuring you were amongst those fittest. There were also informatisation processes: technisation (different aspects of our life becoming subject to technology), differentiation (social and technical differences between us), and globalisation (globally interdependent networks: an anonymous process). When, for example, there is a power cut, people realise how dependent they have become on the 24/7 access, with new social and working patterns. Also with much information in the cloud (like this blog!) you have to trust that the cloud will work!
After this Albert ran through some developments in IL that he had lived through. He felt that that the thing that had changed most from his student days was “where” is the information. There are many IL models and frameworks, which have a lot in common. Already in 1995 a list of literacies included 19 different “literacies” and this has only increased. For him, IL was still the umbrella term for terms such as information fluency and information skills – and indeed all theother literacies. Albert had participated in a number of the UNESCO-sponsored meetings on Media and Information Literacy, and he increasingly felt that it made sense to work with the media literacy people, with whom IL people had a lot of common interests.
Therefore he has taken on the term of MIL as an umbrella concept. He sees it as a dynamic container concept. He defined it as a lifelong learning competence, with associated attitudes, skills and knowledge.
Albert's website, which includes links to some of his presentations, is at
Photo by Sheila Webber: Mosaic Museum, Istanbul, October 2013

Starting blogging @ #ecil2013

I'm in Istanbul for the European Conference on Information Literacy: this morning the wifi was not working (too many people with lots of devices!) and so I couldn't liveblog. You see a photo of us device-owners converging on the helpful techie. Therefore I will be blogging various sessions from today, but not necessarily in the order I attended them (since I will be publishing my blogging backlog)! Apart from the wifi (which seems to be sorted out now) it is an excellent conference with participants from 60 countries.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Learning designs, and a cat #ecil2013

I'm in Istanbul for the European Conference on Information Literacy which starts in less than 12 hours time! As a taster, the slides for the workshop Creating and Sharing Information Literacy Learning Designs by Eleni Zazani, Patricia Charlton and Diana Laurillard are already on Slideshare at There is also a website which details what will happen in their workshop and the website will also be a focus for outputs from the workshop:
I was goingto embed the presentation, but either my wifi computer or my netbook aren't up to displaying the embed code, so instead you have a picture of one of the many cats of Istanbul, taken yesterday.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Recording of first ACRL open forum

A recording of the first open forum (October 17th) on revision of the ACRL information literacy standards is available. There is a link from this page and from this page that also storifies some tweets about the session
Photo by Sheila Webber: autumn in Second Life

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Library 2.013 Conference #lib2013

The online Library 2.013 Conference starts tomorrow (Friday 18th October) at 2.30pm UK time. There are a huge number of presentations and once it starts they are continuous through the day/night until (in UK time) the early hours of Sunday morning. There are talks on all sorts of topics, including information literacy. You do not have to register and it is free to attend, but they advise testing out the Blackboard Collaborate platform beforehand.
Photo by Sheila Webber: Sheffield Botanic Gardens, September 2013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Primo site of the month: ITT

The latest Primo site of the month consists of tutorials at the Institute of Technology Tallaght (ITT Dublin), South Dublin, Ireland. The tutorials are at and the interview with ITT Deputy Librarian Philip Russell is on the Primo website at
Photo by Sheila Webber: Ivy, October 2013, photoshopped.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ilene F. Rockman Instruction Publication of the Year Award

Submissions are invited for the Ilene F. Rockman Instruction Publication of the Year Award, which recognises "an outstanding publication related to instruction in a library environment published in the preceding two years. The award honors Ilene F. Rockman's professional contributions to academic librarianship in the area of information literacy. This award is administered by the Instruction Section." There is a plaque and US $3,000 award, donated by Emerald Group Publishing Limited. The publication can be a journal article, books, book chapters, or published proceeding, published in 2012 or 2013. "Nominations must include a letter supporting the publication and a complete citation of the publication. Whenever possible, an electronic version of the article, book, etc., should also be included." There is more information at
Photo by Sheila Webber: Santana apples, October 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013

Information Literacy month: and NBC News programmes "fact or fiction"

October is Information Literacy month in the USA.The USA's National Forum on Information Literacy got Barack Obama to endorse the first IL month, and they also have a campaign for USA States to sign up for the month. This is the page for this year:
NFIL also link to a series of short news stories on the NBCNews channel, called Fact or Fiction that aired a couple of weeks ago "our way of making you a better news consumer". You get presented with two news stories and have to decide which one is fact and which one is fiction.

The image is a direct link to the image on the NFIL website, courtesy of NFIL.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Abstracting: flipped classroom?

On Tuesday I did sessions on abstracting with students here in the Information School, and as I was walking over to the first classroom it occurred to me that the way I was working could be called a flipped classroom. Since I posted the slidecast I used on Slideshare, I thought I would also share the activities that I did and then reflect on Flipped Classrooms.
Firstly, the activities. Students had been asked to view the slidecast, to read an article on information encountering and to take some notes on the article (prompted by questions like "what methods did the author use in her research"). There is also handout which gives examples of different kinds of abstract. The whole class is about 90 students (the majority from outside the UK), and for this session we divide them into 4 groups, so there is more opportunity for them to ask questions and discuss. The session is 75 minutes. I produced a video telling them how to get to the right rooms, which seems useful at this early point of the year (it has cut down the number of people coming in late or not at all).
Firstly I spent a few minutes reminding them of the key points of the slidecast: i.e. that I had defined an abstract as a concise summary representing a document, that I had explained why learning to abstract was useful, that I distinguished between three types of abstract and went through a process for abstracting.
Then I asked them to discuss in twos and threes what they thought the difference was between an indicative, informative and structured abstract (for 5 or 10 minutes). After this I asked for volunteers to explain some of the differences, and also to raise any other comments or questions.
The next step was to ask them to draft an abstract for the article they have read, dividing up the room so that some are doing indicative, some informative, and some structured abstracts. I allowed about 25 min for drafting: this isn't long enough for everyone to finish an abstract, but it is (I think) long enough for people to get an idea of the effort abstracting needs and gives them some experience of abstracting if they haven't had it already (which most people haven't).
The next stage (about 10 minutes) is for each student to swap abstracts with a neighbour, read the neighbour's abstract, and comment on it (e.g. one good feature and one thing that needs improving). Where people have not written very much, I encouraged also discussing with their neighbour what was challenging (or enjoyable) about abstracting.
The final stage was an open discussion. I asked for any criticisms of the article itself first of all (as problems in structure, poor style and omission of key information make it more difficult to abstract) and people are always able to identify issues with the article that DO make it more difficult, which leads into talking about what is difficult about abstracting. Then final questions usually include specific ones about the abstracts they have to write as part of their coursework and dissertations, and more general questions to do with abstracts, academic writing and reading, and also information behaviour (which is the subject of the article).
I really do think an abstracting activity is useful: it gives practice in writing and also in reading (concentrating on what is the author aiming to say and how is he/she saying it, which you need to understand before you can produce your own perspective or critique).
Anyway on to the Flipped classroom. EDUCAUSE has produced one of its useful "7 Things" sheets on flipping, here: I have avoided talking about flipping, partly because I can't see how getting-students-to-do-stuff-before-a-class is a new idea, or how watching a talking head on a video is "active", and partly because I get irritated when people downplay the problems and exaggerate the benefits. For literature classes (for example), even at school, preparation followed by inclass discussion is a familiar model, however I do realise that a transmissive model is more common in some other subject disciplines.
Anyway, it would appear that I use the idea of a flipped classroom quite a lot, so I thought perhaps I should embrace this term and thus seem more of the moment. As it says in the EDUCAUSE briefing, this approach does require careful planning. For me, this includes:
- thinking about how you incentivise and remind people to do the activity beforehand;
- how / whether you will deal with problems that people have whilst doing the activity (e.g. not fully understanding the task, or not being able to play the video);
- ensuring that you are not setting something that some students will not be able to access/ do (e.g. because of disability or lack of access to technology);
- how you deal with people who come along without having done the activity.
The last issue is one you have to plan for particularly carefully. I do not tell people who admit to not having done preparation to go away (which one person I know said they did), but you also don't want those who have prepared to feel that they are "carrying" those who haven't. For example, for a class I used to take with a colleague of mine, every week a few students had to give short presentations on aspects of an article that everyone was asked to read. So that people could not withdraw from contributing even if they had not read the article, we gave a few minutes after the short student presentations, in which time students had to think of a question either about the article itself, or a question to one of the student presenters.
I don't usually actively solicit comments, but if anyone has comments on flipped classrooms, I'd be interested to hear them.
Photo by Sheila Webber: Marc Quinn's giant sculpture in Gardens on the Bay, Singapore, August 2013

Thursday, October 10, 2013

New musings on MOOCs: EDUCAUSE Review

EDUCAUSE Review has an issue with numerous articles in and around MOOCs. e.g.
- The Potential for Online Learning: Promises and Pitfalls
- Five myths about MOOCs:
- Connecting the Dots: New Technology-Based Models for Postsecondary Learning:
(at the moment you can see the list at but in due course these will be bumped down by newer items)
Photo by Sheila Webber: Autumn root vegetables, Farmer's market, October 2013.

Online Open Forums on Revised Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education

The Association of College and Research Libraries (USA) is reviewing their Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. There is a task force that will substantially revise ACRL's Standards by June 2014. "The revision will underscore the critical need for faculty members and librarians to collaborate to effectively address information literacy education that aligns with disciplinary content. While the exact approach is still under discussion, two new elements will be incorporated: threshold concepts and metaliteracy. These two foundational elements should provide the basis for more sustained collaborations with disciplinary faculty and create more aligned teaching and learning communities at the institutional level." There are 3 online sessions. You need to sign up and searts are limited. The times are:
- Thursday, October 17, 10am Pacific/11am Mountain/noon Central/1pm Eastern (all USA times: this is 6pm UK time)
- Tuesday, October 29, 8am Pacific/9am Mountain/10am Central/11am Eastern (all USA times: this is 3pm UK time - the time difference is one hour less at this point as the US and UK change over to winter hours on different dates)
- Monday, November 4, 10am Pacific/11am Mountain/noon Central/1pm Eastern (all USA times: this is 6pm UK time, all back to normal by then)
See for more information
Photo by Sheila Webber: Blackheath Farmer's market, apples, October 2013

Project SAILS beta testing outside North America

I was a bit slow picking this up but I think it is still open: project SAILS wants non-USA institutions to beta-test their information literacy testing tool. "The beta test is open to any institution testing outside the United States. There is no fee to participate. Testing takes place between August and December of 2013. Each participating institution should commit to getting 100 or more students to take the test. You will need at least 50 test-takers in order to get a report.... We need at least three institutions in a country in order to create the country-specific benchmark." There is more information at
Photo by Sheila Webber: Sails in the harbour, Hobart, Tasmania, 2008

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Journal Club: 9 October: Academic Librarians in Second Life

Join us in the virtual world Second Life for a one-hour discussion of an open-access article. Led by Ridvan Ata, Sheffield University, we will be discussing:
Cote, D., Ashford, R., Kraemer, B., Nahl, D. (2012) Academic Librarians in Second Life. Journal of Library Innovation, 3(1). Available at:

When: 9 October 2013 12 noon SL time (which is 8pm UK time and the same
as US pacific time: see for times elsewhere)

Where: Infolit iSchool Journal Club room, in the virtual world Second Life, You need a SL avatar and the Second Life browser installed on your computer.

Everyone is welcome to join the one-hour discussion. A Sheffield iSchool Centre for Information Literacy Research event.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

LILAC 2014 call for proposals

There is a call for proposals for the LILAC (information Literacy) conference that takes place 23-25 April 2014 at Sheffield Hallam University, UK. The deadline is 15 November 2013 at 1700 GMT. The conference themes are: Innovative approaches to IL; Putting theory into practice; Transitions – IL from cradle to tomb; Outreach and collaboration; IL on a shoestring; Health literacy.
Presentations should take one of the following forms: Short papers (30 minutes); Long papers (45 minutes); Workshops sessions (1 hour); Symposiums (1 hour); Teachmeet presentations (8 mins); Poster presentations. For more information go to
Photo by Sheila Webber: closeup of bee, Botanic Gardens, Sheffield, September 2013

Monday, October 07, 2013

Everyday information practices in Australian households

The latest issue of Library and Information Research includes:
Waller, V. (2013) Diverse everyday information practices in Australian households. Library and Information Research, 37 (115).
"Qualitative research into the everyday information-seeking practices of eight diverse households in the city of Melbourne, Australia permitted insights into the variability in dynamics around information practices. The current study combines an information practice approach to information-seeking with finer detail on use of the Internet. Rather than treat the Internet as a monolithic entity, this study looks separately at the use of more recent Internet technologies such as social media and Wikipedia. The study examines the type of information that people seek, the ways in which they stay informed and their engagement with a range of information resources. In particular, the study illustrates the enormous disparity in the level of information resources available to participants. It also illustrates the extent to which use of the search engine, Google, has become naturalised within the everyday information practices of some Internet users in Australia. This study indicates that public libraries still have particular importance for more disadvantaged members of the population."
Photo by Sheila Webber: Bees at Sheffield Botanic Gardens, September 2013

Friday, October 04, 2013

Google Hummingbird, and non-Google

There was a conversation on the ili discussion list about changes to Google's search algorithm, and this article was mentioned - it is particularly informative:
Sullivan, D. (2013) FAQ: All About The New Google “Hummingbird” Algorithm. Searchenginewatch, September 26.
Also I mentioned the course Search is more than Google by Karen Blakeman that is forthcoming, and here is a set of slides she just published:

Thursday, October 03, 2013

m-libraries conference cfp

There is a call for papers for the 5th International m-libraries conference ("from devices to people") which takes place in Hong-Kong on 27-30 May 2014. Themes include "Harnessing the future for teaching and learning with mobile technologies" and "Mobile technologies enhancing Information Access for All and pursuing the millennium development goals". Abstracts are due on 28th October 2013. For more info go to:
Photo by Sheila Webber: Squirrel on the bench, September 2013

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

UKEIG training courses, Google/not Google

Forthcoming training courses in the UK from UKEIG include:
Make Google behave: techniques for better results: Karen Blakeman (30 October 2013 London and 29 November, Belfast)
Using multimedia tools to present information: Phil Bradley (6 November, Birmingham)
Anything but Google: Karen Blakeman (19 November, 2013, London)
More info at
Photo by Sheila Webber: Sheffield Botanic Gardens, September 2013

Abstracting: screencast

I made a screencast about abstracting (what an abstract is, why they are useful, and the difference between types of abstract). This is for a Masters class here in the Information School next week (our Information Resources and Information Literacy class, a class of about 90 students this year) but possibly other people might find it useful too.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Psychology literacy

Another literacy which is being put forward as essential to all citizens: psychology literacy. It does seem to include an element of information literacy.
Photo by Sheila Webber: Spot the squirrel, Sheffield, September 2013