Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Bill Johnston Keynote at CKVI

Reporting from the #ckvi Creating Knowledge VI Conference being held in Bergen, Norway, 8-10 September, The final keynote speaker this morning was Bill Johnston (pictured): (abstract are at and biography here).
Bill Johnston (Centre for Academic Practice and Learning Enhancement, University of Strathclyde) talked on Imagining the information literate university He started by identifying the very broad diversity existing in universities now and then looking at the broad purpose of higher education, quoting Jan Vermunt, who said it was "... to prepare students for lifelong, self-regulated, cooperative and lifelong learning." This involved academics moving from being lecturers to being course designers. He presented the Information Literate University as being an agenda for change in a university: the process of change has been slow in the past and although it still can't be instant it still needs to speed up. He quoted the definition of information literacy that he and I developed (it is on the top right of this blog so I won't re-quote it here!).
In the 21st century there are characteristics of a new information culture (e.g. mobile connectivity, diverse experience of media and the tension between corporate news (what appears in the mass media) and the collective news (in blogs, twitter etc.). He identified how essential understanding of information culture was nowadays: this required broader and more liberal education.
He identified the importance of this information culture in the university and put forward a model for curriculum design. In terms of curriculum renewal, it was important to think about the "end state" (i.e. a graduate in an information culture). To achieve this, Bill identified six areas that needed to be addressed: learning process; learners (e.g. they need to be disposed to learn & engaged); Designs for learning; Contexts for learning; Complex thinking; and applications for learning. As part of this, students should spend more time (for example) engaged in meaningful tasks, and analysing and applying information collaboratively and creatively.

All this requires quite radical renewal of the curriculum and the institution. Forces for renewal include the university's strategic plans, quality evaluation, information literacy (Including theoretically informed case studies), and the involvement of both educational developers and Human Resource Management (since you have to rethink what kind of faculty you recruit).
He finished with the model of an Information Literate University (which he and I developed some years ago and which is pictured on the right, click on the thumbnail to see a larger picture).

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