Last week I was busy, presenting on Friday at the Society for Research in Higher Education event. I was running a workshop with Moira Bent, on behalf of the RIDLs coalition. This was the second event where we ran a workshop on digital and information literacies, the RDF and the concept of the ‘Informed Researcher’ for groups outside the library sector. Many of those attending on Friday were educational researchers, educational developers, postgraduate researchers and lecturers. When we asked the groups to break into discussions on what they thought digital and information literacies were, what it meant to be an informed researcher and how they were supporting researchers in their own institution to develop in this area, I have never known such as noisy round of discussions! I think we gave them plenty to think about, but also I hope that people took away that there is a lot that librarians can offer in the way of expertise in this field. We had a great debate on what the term information literacy meant – what is information? And what is literacy? Was digital literacy a broader or narrow term? But most importantly what should we be doing in this area to ensure everyone has these capabilities.
Last Thursday I attended (and presented) at the CILIP eCopyright briefing, chaired by Naomi Korm with a wide range of speakers who updated us on aspects of copyright law and copyright practices. The day was opened by Heather Caven, Head of Collection Management and Planning at the V&A, who gave us an inspiring talk about copyright at her own institution, where copyright could in the past be seen as a barrier. In a climate where we are all trying to do more with less, Heather urged us to consider what should be given away for free and what should be paid for. In terms of the V&A, the image service has been running since 2009, making over 1.1 million images available for free, under CC licences with no impact on profits. The commitment to opening up the collection and working with Wikimedia was inspiring. But Heather urged us to gather metrics to really understand how people are using your collections and your website and to understand how if you give away something for free then that can translate into people spending money on your site.
Today I attended a workshop in the Changing the Learning Landscapes series. The event was held at the University of Leeds and several familiar faces from HEA projects and from last year’s SEDA Summer School were facilitating the day. The first session was by Lawrie Phipps, from JISC who spoke at the Summer School last year. He made some good points about, when we speak to students, which students do we hear from? Who are representing students, on committees and in surveys? He asked us to collect our thoughts about what digital literacies students need to be effective learner. They are online and he also made the distinction between scholarly practices, information and media processes and socio-technical processes were are evolving at different rates. Lawrie also recognised that a lot of digital literacy work builds on the work librarians have done for many years around information literacy. He asked us about some of the barriers to change and inevitably the reward structure in HE came up. He also urged against putting digital at the start of things as it focuses the mind on the technology, which is not what we want to do. It’s about underlying practices. JISC have a lot of resources coming out of the Digital Literacies Design Studio, including an audit tool and various models such as the pyramid from Beetham and Sharpe.
Some of you may know I am a module tutor for distance learners at Aberystwyth University and so the needs of distance learners are something I consider to be very important. Aberystwyth have been running distance learning librarianship courses for over 25 years and I was thrilled to join colleagues from the Department of Information Studies last summer at their celebratory dinner. Technology is something Aberystwyth have used since the late 1990s as a way of supporting distance learners and I was involved in the pilot project to introduce computer conferencing using the FirstClass system. Providing students with a way of communicating with their tutors and with each other was considered really important to counteract the isolation that distance learners often feel.
Technology has changed a lot since the late 1990s so if you are interested in the needs of distance learners, then we have a seminar next Wednesday at LSE that may be of interest. Lindsay Jordan from the University of the Arts London will be presenting a NetworkED seminar on this topic. Find out more on the NetworkED website. If you wish to attend and are not a member of LSE staff (or a student) then drop me a line and I can book you a place. Also don’t forget as ever, we will be live streaming this event so you can watch from the event page next Wednesday at 3pm GMT. No plug ins or registration is required to watch the live stream.
It has just been announced that I was selected by Library Journal as a 2013 Mover and Shaker. I think it’s quite rare for someone from outside the US to get one of these awards and I was nominated as an ‘Advocate’ for my information literacy work. I’m really excited by the news and you can read the story in full here. I know that I have Emma Coonan and Andrew Walsh to thank for nominating me, both very inspiring people to work with! I also want to thank Nancy Graham who worked with me on the DELILA and CoPILOT projects and is also another person I have the fortune to work with professionally. And of course all the Information Literacy Group, past and present LILAC Committee members and the JIL team. And my fabulously supportive boss, Steve Ryan and the rest of my colleagues at LSE. This is sounding like an Oscar speech so I will stop now!
In honour of the occasion I have been giving my blog a bit of a face lift, so if you can’t find something that’s why!
I’ve had a busy week returning from a lovely holiday in the Caribbean at the weekend, spending Monday trying to catch up with email and then heading to Paris to UNESCO on Tuesday and Wednesday for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) + 10 review event. its called +10 as it is ten years since the first of these meetings was convened.
I was invited with Nancy Graham to take part in a workshop to help UNESCO refine their media and information literacy competencies and today the group were hoping to work on indicators for media and and information literacy. These are hugely important as they will be a way of teachers judging their own (and others) competence in this field. And also be a way of measuring impact. They also underpin the Media and information Literacy curriculum that UNESCO produced a year and a half ago.
It is interesting to reflect on how I came to be sat at UNESCO working with a group of international experts in both media and information literacy. I have Woody Horton to thank in many ways who contacted me shortly after I finished my Arcadia fellowship and invited me to join the international mailing list. I posted a short item to the list (I think in response to a query) about the DELILA project which had just finished and adapted a range of digital and information literacy resources as OERs. After posting this message I received an email from Irmgarda Kasinskaite-Buddeberg at UNESCO who immediately pointed out that both IL and OERs were key interests at UNESCO. Getting to know Irmgarda has been so rewarding and I’m really pleased that she is a keynote at this year’s LILAC conference.
Woody Horton is another great contact and he is also the author of a recent UNESCO publication that both Nancy and I contributed to, and it is a global resource for information literacy in over 40 languages. We helped to compile the English language section and have agreed to help keep it up to date. I was really excited to return to UNESCO this week but also to work on information literacy. I use their definition of IL regularly in talks that I give and feel honoured to be invited back to Paris.
There have been at least two instances in the last week when I’ve been asked to explain what information literacy is and why it matters to people completely outside the education and library world. One such incident this weekend when talking to a friend who was a media and communications specialist really struck me. We really do need marketing professionals in the library world. And I need to work on my pitch.I read a US blog by Howard Rheingold which pitches infolit as “crap detection” which certainly is part of it. Apparently the term was coined by Ernest Hemingway back in 1954! But perhaps “crap detection” is not the way to try and sell it later this week to a university committee. It’s really hard to describe something you think about a lot in some detail in a really simple and clear way. I want a 1 minute pitch for what information literacy is and why it matters for the person in the street! And then a 5 minute pitch for academic staff. Ideas on a postcard please! Or come along to the second meet up of the London Libraries Learning Research Reading group tonight.