This is my first report from the LILAC (Information Literacy) conference 18-20 April 2011 in London, UK. I've managed to get myself up in time and on to the commuter train from South London, and am now in my first session: 22nd Century Librarians and the death of information skills, from Andy Jackson (Dundee University). I've also managed to find a power socket for my laptop, which is always a bit of a miracle. This is a workshop, so I have to spend a good part of the session doing rather than blogging.
The first exercise asked us to identify imporatnt information skills (my group identified recognising an informastion need and sifting & evaluating information) and important professional attributes (my group identified an inquiring mind and committed to your own development). Andy felt that new graduates are likely to be "working towards a different kind of learning outcomes" which may also mean us using new technologies and pedagogic approaches. The learning outcomes would include practical skills like oral communication, time management, numeracy skills and so forth. They would also include graduate attributes plus as ethical behaviour, intellectual curiosity, environmental responsibility etc. (these are all the kinds of thing that we have as part of our graduate attributes at Sheffield University). Andy highlighted that this connected with UK higher education's emphasis on employability and prifessionalism (the quality assurance bodies in the UK also emphasise this, and that always has an impact on what the universities do). All this means that teaching "skills" is not enough, and it also means we need to display these attributes when we interact with learners.
Andy referred to the 6 technologies to watch mentioned in the 2011 Horizon Report http://www.educause.edu/Resources/2011HorizonReport/223122, games-based learning, augmented reality, e-books, mobile computing, gesture based computing anfd learning analytics. All theses required auditing our own and our organisation's capabilities and practice.
For the 2nd exercise we had to think about challenging behaviours of learners, what they find challenging about information skills and what would help professional librarians to deal with some of the challenges. A 2nd set of people had to consider what they & theitr learners found challenging about technologies.
Drawing particularly on my group's discussion we identified as challenges for us: that students want quick fixes, that they lack motivation, that it's dificult to get them to reflect and concentrate, that they may be used to being spoonfed, that they always use Google, that they think they know it all already and that they flit6 about in their searching. Things that we thought learners found challenging were: that they might have to se different interfaces, that they didn't find the skills/technologies interesting, that they are challenged by terminologies & classifications, that they are challenged to go beyond the reading list, that they find it difficult to identify their information needs & then evaluating what they've found, that they don't know "what's out there", they find transfer of skills challenging and they are concerned about avoiding plagiarism.
In terms of solutions, we identified: having the library/librarians "embedded" and working with the lecturers, having reflective spaces and reviewing our approaches to teaching and learning (so no "quick fixes" there!). Andy also emphasised the need to engage with the technologies.
PS This also means that information skills aren't dead, just not the whole story!