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ECIL 2014: Dubrovnik sunshine and information literacy

Sunset over DubrovnikI spent last week at the second European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL), held in Dubrovnik, Croatia. The conference attracted almost 300 delegates from over 50 different countries from Europe and beyond, the location was stunning and the weather kind to us. There were about 15 of us from the UK attending, so it really is an opportunity to meet colleagues interested in information literacy from many other countries. The organisation was excellent, congratulations to the committee and to Serap and Sonja, the founders of this conference which started last year in Istanbul. The quality of the papers was also extremely high and I look forward to seeing the conference proceedings in due course. In this post I will focus on some of the keynotes and invited speakers, and write up some of the parallel sessions I attended later.

I was pretty busy over the course of the 4 days running a writing for publication workshop, participating in a panel discussion for InformALL on workplace IL and presenting a paper on the SADL project with my colleague Maria. The conference is pretty intense and although this year it didn’t run into the evening, other than for social events. Being based in a conference hotel also really helped, as there was less time walking, and a tempting pool when you needed refreshing!


European Conference on Information Literacy in Dubrovnik

This week I am attending the European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL2014) in Dubrovnik. I’ll write up a longer post on the keynotes and sessions I have attended, but here are my slides from the presentation I am giving on Thursday with one of my colleagues from LSE, Maria Bell. It’s more about the Student Ambassadors for Digital Literacy project which is recruiting students this week at LSE for our second year.

Secondment starts today!

Today I am starting a two day a week secondment to LSE’s International Programmes, the department that is responsible for our distance learning provision accredited by the University of London. I know something about their work as for five years or so I was a Fellow at UoL Centre for Distance Education (CDE). Back in 2007 CDE funded the LASSIE project which is how I got into blogging and researching libraries, social media and education.


Which technologies have you used in your studies?

Back to my secondment though; for the next six months I’m going to be working to develop a digital literacy programme aimed at teachers. The teachers are based at affiliate institutions around the world and the idea is to offer them a teaching certificate. It won’t be a full blown PG Cert but it will cover many of the same elements of a typical teaching in HE course. The challenge is that much of the course will be taught online as the teachers are based around the world. And this course will have digital literacies embedded in it. It will also explore the challenges of teaching in the digital age and assumptions about the concept of students as ‘digital natives’. I will be looking for existing courses and OERs to inspire me. Models like 23 Things seem to offer ideas about the approach we could use. In addition to teaching about digital literacies we want to use a variety of appropriate technologies with the teachers to encourage them to share ideas and be reflective about their teaching.

My first step will be carrying out a literature search to find out about similar existing courses and to find a suitable teaching model. I also need to devise a curriculum and find out more about the teachers, their current practices and use of technologies. It’s very exciting starting a new project and today feels like the first step on a new adventure! Wish me luck!

Supporting research students: Czech good practice

Charles Bridge, PragueI’ve just attended an Information Literacy seminar held at Charles University in Prague, (founded in 1348) although the meeting was at the more modern Faculty of Social Sciences. I was invited to give the keynote which opened the seminar and to speak about the support for research students we offer at LSE. The IVIG seminar, which is an information literacy seminar, was organized by the Association of Libraries of Czech Universities, Institute of Information Studies and Librarianship of the Charles University in Prague, and SPRIG Civic Association. I have made my presentation available on Slideshare.

The programme was really interesting and it isn’t that often you get to meet so many Czech academic librarians. The group arranged for an interpreter to help me out, as the entire day was (unsurprisingly) in Czech. I had been invited following meeting Hana Landová, Lenka Bělohoubková and Ludmila Ticha last year at the ECIL conference in Istanbul. Their information literacy group has made great progress furthering good practice in information literacy in the Czech Republic and the seminars they organize are very popular with librarians.

The focus of the seminar was supporting PhD students and early career researchers and there were presentations from a wide range of universities. Overall I found the issues they were discussing were very similar to those we experience in the UK, such as how to promote courses to PhD students and also how to evaluate their effectiveness. The workshops being offered by Czech librarians were quite similar to those we run in LTI and LSE Library: literature searching, managing references, citation analysis, copyright issues. A couple of differences I noticed were several people talked about offering courses to PhD students on the publication process and on writing an academic (or scientific) paper. It struck me as a really useful addition to the programme we offer at LSE, and worth discussing with LSE’s Teaching and Learning Centre. This course covered how to identify high impact journals in your field and also discussed open access issues. Petra Dědičová from Brno, University of Technology was one speaker who had a particularly impressive programme of support for PhD students, with a complimentary Moodle course.


Research and writing workshop

Today I’ve been chairing a workshop at CILIP on undertaking research, writing proposals and getting published. It was a joint event being run by the Information Literacy group and Library and Information Research Group. I got involved in my capacity as Editor of the Journal of Information Literacy. I was looking forward to the day and have always believed that undertaking research is a really important part of a practitioner. In fact I am in the process of writing a research strategy for our team which should be available on our website fairly soon.

The strategy is an attempt to provide a rationale and a strategic direction for the research that we have done for many years and it sets out the key areas of research interest. Up until this point our research has been driven by funding opportunities from organisations such as JISC and the HEA and from personal interests. However it’s helpful to have this work recognised more formally and to have an explicit strategy. Writing the document also helped me see how the various areas where we have undertaken research fit together. I’ve undertaken research on open education, on digital and information literacies and on the impact of new technologies on learning and teaching at our own institution and more widely. However the strategy should provide more focus for the activities.


Library Instruction West – part two

reflections in lake patriciaI headed off for a few weeks to visit the Canadian Rockies in search of bears, (four spotted) elk, (20 plus spotted) lakes and mountains (too many to count but Lake Louise and Lake Maligne up in Jasper were highlights). It was also a good chance to spend time thinking and reflecting on what I had learnt at the conference I attended from 23-25th July in Portland, Oregon, Library Instruction West. I’m grateful to the CILIP Information Literacy CO-PILOT committee and LSE for supporting me to attend a great conference.

Working in the newly renamed team, Learning Technology and Innovation, I was on the look out for new ideas and innovations. We have this sense in the UK that exciting things are happening in North American universities that we need to be aware of in the UK. I certainly came back with a sense that things are different, I’m just still trying to pin down exactly how! So here’s my attempt and in my first blog post written during the conference I was struck by the differences in terminology we use. I think in terms of people’s job titles it is worth thinking about this a bit more. I met instruction and outreach or information literacy librarians (not subject librarians or academic support) I also met instructional designers (what LSE would call educational developers) and I heard talk of educational technologists but from what I heard many did not seem to be working alongside the library folk as often as in case in the UK. Those differences suggest academic support services are set up slightly differently in US and Canadian universities. However, people did talk about the same issues such as how to engage faculty, how to embed digital and information literacy effectively into the curriculum, how to be innovative in their teaching and use technology appropriately.


Library Instruction West – Portlandia!

I’m spending this week in Portland, Oregon for the Library Instruction West conference, but the city is famous for craft beer, great food and the series, Portlandia which suggests it’s a little alternative! A few years ago Nigel Morgan told me about this great conference that was formerly known as LOEX of the West. I learnt today that LOEX meant Library Orientation EXchange which was where librarians came to share ideas before the internet. So the fact I was talking about sharing IL resources globally as part of the COPilot project and COPILOT committee was highly relevant. I made my slides available on Slideshare and also have been promoting the work of the UK Information Literacy group, not least our Journal and the LILAC conference.

Oregon Historical Society Museum

Oregon Historical Society Museum

Today I’ve also learned that many of the challenges that academic librarians face in the UK are very similar over the Atlantic! I’ve also learnt that we use some very different terminology and not just words like elevator / lift or cookie / biscuit but the whole vocabulary around education is quite different! But somehow I think we have shared ideas about information literacy and I’ve come away feeling like librarians around the world have a lot more in common than what divides us. It was also great to hear Alison Head from Project Information Literacy speak again – she was the keynote at LILAC 2014 in Sheffield and did a fantastic keynote on the research habits of recent graduates.

Last night’s meal on the Portland Spirit was a real treat and we got to sample Oregon wine and beer! No dancing but it was a lot of fun! Cheers folks and thanks to everyone making me feel so welcome. I am looking forward to day 2 and hearing William Badke speak this morning as well as many other US librarians who’s work I have read before!

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