Thursday, July 23, 2009

LTEA conference: evlaution of information resources

Last week I was at the Learning Through Enquiry Alliance conference in Reading. Helen Hathaway and Sally Smith (Information Skills Coordinator & Learning Support Coordinator, at the University of Reading) talked about The Edge of reason supporting students in the critical evaluation of information resources.
Helen started by explaining that at Reading University there is a liaison librarian for each school, who has responsibility for teaching Information Literacy. She then introduced the SCONUL 7 Pillars model of information literacy, which will be familiar to many readers, and mentioned challenges in students knowing what they need to know, and identifying the gaps in their knowledge.

She handed over to Sally to discuss the issue of information evlauation. Sally used the metaphor of shopping in a cheapo market vs. John Lewis (a reputable department store) and linked it with the need to raise awareness during the students' transition from school to university. As well as class size increasing, the size and complexity of the library also increases, so it is easy to see how students might become overwhelmed. They do organise visits for schools to library, including a quiz.

Students studying English are asked to think of reasons why they need the library, and ideas include needing to compare your views with those of credible authors. In another case, in Chemistry, students have to find one site they would recommend and one site they would not, with reasons, and they use Delicious to share. What was difficult was to judge was the impact in the modules, since the librarians would not see the work that the students have done: feedback from academic staff was valuable in this context.

Helen and Sally mentioned a wide range of support and training, including the online Cyberlibrary module - which is at but you need to be registered at Reading University to use it.

At the end of the session Helen and Sally circulated mini questionnaires and asked people to chat in pairs or threes to identify ways in which librarians could be more effectively involved in information literacy in the curriculum. A number of groups handed back sheets before they left, so this seemed a good way to gather ideas even though there wasn't much time left at the end (most of the presentation sessions at this conference were only half an hour)
I also noted a reference to the Thanks Wikopedia graduation t-shirt ;-)

Photo by Sheila Webber: Friendship Bridge at Reading University, July 2009.

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