Thursday, July 20, 2017

cfp Fake News and Digital Literacy

There is a call for proposals for presentations (45 minutes) or posters for a conference to be held on October 20 2017 in Tampa, Florida, USA: Fake News and Digital Literacy: The academic library’s role in shaping digital citizenship. Deadline for proposals is August 14 2017. It is organised by the Florida Chapter of ACRL (FACRL). The conference will "explore digital literacy in higher education and the library’s responsibility to lead the charge toward the creation of learners with the requisite skills to engage critically and ethically with information in an open knowledge society. As proven authorities on information literacy, librarians are well positioned to lead learners through a politically and digitally polarized environment and advocate for the development of digital citizenship."
Submit proposals at All proposals relevant to academic librarianship and digital literacy will be considered, but some specific themes are suggested:
"- Institutional initiatives showcasing librarians as leaders, teachers, and supporters of digital citizenship at their respective institutions.
- Innovative applications of the ACRL Framework and corresponding instructional strategies that help students explore and understand the concepts of digital literacy.
- Case studies highlighting libraries capitalizing on the sensationalism of fake news to convene and lead, insightful community conversations on the moral and ethical implications of digital literacy.
- Digital collection development and how using electronic library resources can promote critical thinking, improve reading skills, and help learners better understand the research process.
- Legislative advocacy initiatives involving broader campus communities to inform and inspire action supporting the principles of digital literacy, freedom of information and efforts to ensure equal access to information."
Inquiries may be sent to the FACRL Program Selection Committee Chair, Michelle Demeter at
Photo by Sheila Webber: flat white, June 2017

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Media and Information Literacy in Nigeria

A two-day UNESCO train-the-trainers workshop on Media and Information Literacy (MIL) was held in Abuja, Nigeria. It focused on use of the Media and Information Literacy Curriculum for teachers. Yao Ydo, UNESCO Regional Director, Abuja, Nigeria, in his closing speech, advocated for including MIL in the school curriculum in Nigeria. According to, Media and Information Literacy of Nigeria (MILCON) was also launched.
Sources: AFRICAMIL (19 July 2017)
UNESCO Inaugurates NGO For Media Information Literacy (July 19 2017)
Photo by Sheila Webber: June rose

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Health Literacy Skills and Partnership Event

On 16 August 2017 at Richmond Library, Greater London, UK, there is a one-day event Health Literacy Skills and Partnership Working for Public and Health Libraries. To attend (free) you need to become a member of one of the co-organiser organisationa, the Public and Mobile Libraries Group (PMLG) and Health Libraries Group (HLG). "The provision of access to health information has become a key to public libraries. This event will provide practical advice and hands-on sessions aimed at supporting health and public librarians in finding and sharing health information."
More information about this event, and how to join the groups, at
Photo by Sheila Webber: lavender, July 2017

Monday, July 17, 2017

Crash Course in Assessing Library Instruction

A four week, online asynchronous course run by Library Juice Academy, from August 7 2017 to September 1 2017, and costing US $175 is Crash Course in Assessing Library Instruction. The teachers are Candice Benjes-Small and Eric Ackermann. "This class is intended for teaching librarians who have some classroom experience and would like to explore different assessment techniques in library sessions, such as one-shots. Using Kirkpatrick’s Levels of Evaluation as a framework, we will discuss how to identify what you want to know and how to match your assessment need to the appropriate assessment technique, and practice assessing student artifacts using a sampling of methods. For each module, we will also discuss strategies for closing the assessment loop."
For more info go to
Photo by Sheila Webber: bee and lavender, Blackheath, July 2017

Friday, July 14, 2017

New articles: information literacy; #ACRLframework; metacognition; values; critical approaches

The latest issue of the Open access journal Communications in Information Literacy (volume 11, no. 1, 2017) is accessible at
A focus is the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy. It includes:
- Frame Works: Using Metaphor in Theory and Practice in Information Literacy by Wendy Holliday, pages 4-20
- Revisiting Metacognition and Metaliteracy in the ACRL Framework by Diane M. Fulkerson, Susan Andriette Ariew, Trudi E. Jacobson, 21-41
- Reorienting an Information Literacy Program Toward Social Justice: Mapping the Core Values of Librarianship to the ACRL Framework by Lua Gregory, Shana Higgins, 42-54
- Connecting Information Literacy and Social Justice: Why and How by Laura Saunders, 55-75
- A Kairos of the Critical: Teaching Critically in a Time of Compliance by Emily Drabinski, 76-94
- Teaching and Un-Teaching Source Evaluation: Questioning Authority in Information Literacy Instruction by Katelyn Angell, Eamon Tewell, 95-121
- In Bed with the Library: A Critical Exploration of Embedded Librarianship at the City University of New York by Nora Almeida, Julia Pollack, 122-146
- Creative Approaches to Information Literacy for Creative Arts Students by Leo Appleton, Gustavo Grandal Montero, Abigail Jones, 147-167
- Using the ACRL Framework to Develop a Student-Centered Model for Program-Level Assessment by Rachel Wilder Gammons, Lindsay Taylor Inge, 168-184
- Asking Questions in the Classroom: An Exploration of Tools and Techniques Used in the Library Instruction Classroom by Sara Maurice Whitver, Leo S. Lo, 185-203
- Guided Resource Inquiries: Integrating Archives into Course Learning and Information Literacy Objectives by Ellen E. Jarosz, Stephen Kutay, 204-220
- Embracing Challenges in Times of Change: A Survey of the Readiness of Academic Librarians in New Jersey for Transition to the ACRL Framework by Leslin H. Charles
Photo by Sheila Webber: alium heads, July 2017

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Webinar: Learners as Creators: Release of the 2nd Digital Literacy Brief @NMCorg

On August 17, 2017 at 10 - 11 am US Central time (so 4pm UK time) there is a free webinar Learners as Creators: Release of the 2nd Digital Literacy Brief, hosted by the New Media Consortium, sponsored by Adobe. They are producing a briefing report. "In a discussion moderated by lead author Bryan Alexander, join the NMC for the official release of our followup NMC Horizon Project Strategic Brief focused on digital literacy. In addition to expanding upon the preliminary definitions outlined in the first report, the brief includes more global and discipline-specific information and context. The aim is for this deep exploration of frameworks and initiatives to contribute to the body of knowledge used by the higher education community to inform strategic planning around digital literacy."
Information about the event is here:
Their previous (October 2016) report on digital literacy is here:
Photo by Sheila Webber: radishes, June 2017

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Expert Internet Searching @Philbradley

There's a new edition of expert Phil Bradley's book on internet searching.
- Bradley, P. (2017) Expert Internet Searching. 5th edition. London: Facet Publishing. ISBN 9781783302475; Price: (UK) £59.95, CILIP members price: £47.95
"Now fully revised for its fifth edition, this book covers the basics of search before going into detail on how to run advanced and complex searches using a variety of different search engines. This edition has been updated to include current trends in search, such as social media search, fake news, and discussion of the authority and validity of search results. It will ensure that information professionals, whether complete beginners or more experienced, are able to work efficiently to obtain accurate information in a timely fashion."
Apologies, forgot to give the link when I first posted
When you "look inside" the book (a feature which now works) you get a pdf which includes an excerpt from a chapter on "news based search engines".
Photo by Sheila Webber, styled and taken in Second Life (SL is a TM of Linden Lab)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Final update on #i3rgu

A few last links to do with the i3 conference held in Aberdeen, Scotland, last month.
Conference roundups
- Nice Storify from Antony Osborne
- Very interesting summary of personal highlights from i3 by Bruce Ryan
Individual presentations (that I think I haven't already blogged)
- Clare McCluskey Dean Communities of Practice in Information Literacy in Higher Education: informative notes at
- Peter Cruickshank Practices of community representatives in exploiting information channels for citizen engagement and a blog about it at
- the presentation which I made, coauthored with colleagues Professor Nigel Ford, Dr Andrew Madden and Mary Crowder: Mapping the development of critical information behaviour through school and university (a mainly quantitative study).

Monday, July 10, 2017

Teachmeet Ravensbourne 3 August

When I just checked there were a few places left at the Teachmeet on the theme of Supporting Library Users on 3 August 2017 13:00 - 16:00 at Ravensbourne, UK.
Photo by Sheila Webber: July 2017

Friday, July 07, 2017

UK Adults' media literacy: information sharing; trust and use of social media; mobile devices

Ofcom's annual (UK) Adults' media use and attitudes report was published last month. It gives "gives detailed evidence on media use, attitudes and understanding among UK adults aged 16+. It covers TV, radio, mobile phones, games, and the internet, with a particular focus on the latter."
This is based on substantial research: "interviews with 1,846 adults aged 16 and over in November and December 2016 .... supplemented with data from another Ofcom research study, the Technology Tracker survey in 2017 based on 3743 interviews with adults aged 16 and over in January and February 2017."
The points they highlight in the introduction are:
- Older people are embracing smart and social technology (this includes 75+ age group) These findings were highlighted in a feature at
- Smartphones are becoming an essential tool for navigating daily life… but some things are still more difficult on a smartphone ("there are certain activities they prefer not to do on a smartphone, such as watching TV or doing school or college work")
- Managing mobile data can be a challenge (by this is meant working out what they can do with the data allowance in their mobile phone package, conserving it by using free wifi etc.)
- People are using a broader range of social media to communicate with different groups
- Sharing with friends and family is an important route to discovering new information and content.
- There has been a slight decline in trust in social media content
- Many are thinking carefully about the trustworthiness of the content they encounter.
- People are opting to communicate via private group discussions
- The majority of internet users (72%) say that they are confident in their ability to manage access to their personal data online.
- Most internet users make some checks to judge the accuracy of factual information online.
- Tthere is a continuing gap between confidence, knowledge and behaviour in understanding how the internet works. "most internet users describe themselves as confident online (89%) ... However, this online confidence does not necessarily translate into an understanding of the way the internet operates. Although 97% of internet users have used search engines as a source of online information there is a continuing lack of understanding about how search engines work, and just under half of all adults do not know how search engines are funded (47%)."
- While the majority of internet users are confident they can recognise advertising online, only half of search engine users could recognise adverts on Google
The report (with the main parts available both in English and Welsh) together with data tables etc. is at
Photo by Sheila Webber: spot the cones, Inverness, June 2017

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Responsibility for #ACRLframework projects moves

As the ACRL Information Literacy Framework Advisory Board (FAB) ("tasked with developing resources for professional development in support of the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education") has finished its term, responsibility for projects has moved to ACRL's Student Learning and Information Literacy Committee (SLILC). The projects incude: ACRL Framework Sandbox, ACRL Framework Toolkit, and the ACRL licensed workshop Engaging with the ACRL Framework: A Catalyst for Exploring and Expanding Our Teaching Practices, Framework discussion list and the Framework WordPress website.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Mostly not blogging at #cilipconf17 ;-)

I am on the exhibition stand for the University of Sheffield Information School, together with a team of students, to connect with iSchool students and recruit more students ;-) - at the CILIP Conference 2017, taking place in Manchester, UK today. Left to right in the photo are: me, Itzelle Medina, Lucy Sinclair, Jaimee McRoberts, Erica Brown and Hannah Beckitt.  I have to be on the exhibition stand most of the time, so I am missing possibly all of the sessions - so probably no liveblogging. However I am tweeting from the @Infoschoolsheff account all day. Also our students will have some blog posts on the iSchool blog so I will link to them in due course. To follow the lively twitterstream from the conference, it's

Monday, July 03, 2017

Rudaí 23: open 23 Things course begins in September #Rudai23

"23 Things" initiatives started some time ago, using open tools like blogs to help librarians learn about using Web 2.0 and other tools more effectively, and supporting Continuing Professional Development. In September 2017, Rudaí 23 begins, "an online, self-directed course based on the 23 Things program, delivered by a collaborative group of librarians and educators, in association with the Western Regional Section of the Library Association of Ireland, and The Library Association of Ireland." There are 23 modules, and "Participants can choose which sections to complete and earn up to 5 digital badges: Visual Communicator, Online Networker, Critical Thinker, Engaged Professional and CPD Champion." Topics include: blogging (as is common with 23 Things inititaives, participants are expected to blog their reflections and experience), image banks, communicating visually, infographics, networking and collaboration tools, professional brand, Personal Data Management, podcasts, advocacy, and evaluating information: reflective practice is encouraged throughout. Registration starts on 28 August 2017.
More information at: Rudaí 23 also ran in 2015 (obviously Rudaí 23 2017 is a heavily revised/ updated version) and you can see the posts for the 2015 iteration on the Rudaí 23 blog

Friday, June 30, 2017

Qualitative research; Getting unstuck; Youth digital participation #i3rgu

I'm no longer at the i3 conference at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, but I have a couple of links for presentations I didn't attend today. I won't attempt to do a conference overview, but I will say that I have returned to the i3 conference (every year it's run, I think) because it is the only UK-based conference with a strong focus on research in information behaviour and information literacy. Although, obviously, LILAC does have research papers, it doesn't expicitly cover information behaviour, and there isn't the space to discuss research methods indepth. You can see from the interactive poster (photo - click on it for larger view) that a lot of the delegates were qualitative (rather than quantitative) researchers, which I like. i3 is a fairly small conference (about 80 people this year, I think) with a big presence from international researchers, students (and some practitioners) in IB, IL and related areas such as Information/Knowledge Management. It is a good place to have informal discussions about your research.
Non-sponsored endorsement over with, here are the links:
- Presentation by Todd Richter, Dr Laura Muir, Dr Tom Flint, Professor Hazel Hall and Dr Colin Smith - Getting Unstuck: information Problem Solving in High School STEM Students and Evidence of Metacognitive Knowledge. Abstract at and presentation at
- Alicja Pawluczuk, Professor Hazel Hall, Dr Colin Smith and Dr Gemma Webster had a paper
Measuring the Social Impact of Youth Digital Participation: examining the research gap Abstract at and presentation at
Indeed Hazel Hall has helpfully put links to abstracts and presentations that she co-authored (which covers most of the Napier University presentations) at

Thursday, June 29, 2017

the relationship between post-truth politics and Scottish citizens’ information behaviour #i3rgu

My final liveblog post from the i3 conference at RGU in Aberdeen (Sadly I'm missing tomorrow's sessions as I have to make an emergency trip to the dentist!) is a paper from Dr Graeme Baxter (presenter) and Professor Rita Marcella: An exploration of the relationship between post-truth politics and Scottish citizens’ information behaviour.
Baxter started by exploring the meaning of "post truth", with it first being attributed to Tesich in 1992, but with a recent huge growth in the use of the term.
In the Scottish Independence Referendum (indyref, which took place in 2014) there were accusations of manipulating the facts from both sides. At the time of the indyref, the researchers undertook a study (in a community centre, church and two other venues in Aberdeen) where 54 people were shown various political websites and asked for their views. Respondents were sceptical about the information which was being presented as "facts". The respondents wanted more sources cited, so they could see where the information came from, 37% described the information they'd seen a very or quite reliable. The researchers developed a matrix - one axis was confidence in ability to judge reliability of information, and the other the participant's awareness that information may be unreliable. Participants would be in one of the four quadrants. Additionally, the researchers developed an emerging typology of searchers: indifferent; reactive; haphazard; proactive; or engaged searcher.
The researchers carried out another piece of research, #alternativefacts, April-June 2017: an online survey (538 responses) and 23 interviews in Westhill with the same method as before (using political party websites that claimed to present facts).
The online survey asked people to rate the reliability of information in 5 screenshots. Work on transcription and analysis is still very much going on, so emerging results were presented from the online survey.
From the online survey, 64% were female, about two thirds resident in Scotland, a range of ages and political party allegiance. The interviewees were mostly female, with about half aged 60 and over. Baxter showed a couple of slides showing people's opinions about perceived reliability. In each case there was a full spectrum of opinion (from think it very reliable to very unreliable or don't know).

The Green party's screenshot fared best in terms of people thinking it reliable, but none of the images had a majority thinking it was reliable. Survey respondents were asked for examples of facts exposed as falsehood: the included Iraq, Brexit, but also "The Vow" (made by Gordon Brown in trying to affect the result of Indyref). Asked about factors affecting trust - these included levels of trust in politicians in general (although did trust some individual politicians).
Political allegiance seemed to affect views e.g. 74.5% of SNP supporters felt that the SNP image contained reliable data. Respondents were wary of facts from unfamiliar sources; and thought that facts could be biased and be subject to spin. They were affected by their own personal or professional experience: i.e. if they has experience or knowledge in the area that was covered by the information they were looking at. Likely sources of good information (according to respondents) included trusted media sites, academic institutions etc. but Google was likely to be a first point of call for fact checking. The researchers managed to track down the actual sources of the political party-generated information they used in the survey: in each case there was foundation for the facts, but some selectivity, and the information was hard to track down.
Finally Baxter presented an emerging model, mapping the journey of a political fact.
First photo by Sheila Webber (donor board in Aberdeen University Library) second picture from the presentation

Practices of community representatives in exploiting information channels for citizen engagement #i3rgu

Another presentation from the i3 conference at RGU in Aberdeen. Peter Cruickshank (presenter), Professor Hazel Hall and Dr Bruce Ryan authored a paper on Practices of community representatives in exploiting information channels for citizen engagement.
The project was funded by the CILIP Information Literacy Group. It was looking at the information behaviour of members of Scottish Community Councils: these are unpaid volunteer posts, elected, but not necessarily with much competition for election. The representation role is "entirely oriented to finding and sharing". The researchers wondered whether there were analogies with findings into research about hyperlocal media. Additionally the conversations might e.g. start on social media, but be continued when you bump into someone on the street.
The researchers had previosuly used a lens of knowledge sharing and Communities of Practice, so it seemed fruitful to explore this population again to look at how the councillors went about acquiring information skills and sources.
The speaker went back to Zurkowski's definition of information literacy and noted how it had been "hijacked by librarians ;-) and IL now tended to be seen as a "good thing" i.e. it was value laden.
Themes they wanted to include included lifelong learning, citizenship etc. They also used the SCONUL 7 Pillars as a mode of "validating" their questions (I think, that covered various aspects of IL). They also used the nodes of the activity theory triangle to test that they were asking questions that related to these elements.
They mainly gathered data via interviews. The councillors were mostly highly educated - not typical of citizens, and they don't have enough information about community councillor demographics to know if this is typical of councillors.
(1) Finding and sharing information. They defined their role in terms of information e.g. "voice of the community" "our currency is information". They were using a mixture of digital and non-digital, including importantly face to face information.Facebook was the key channel.
(2) Analysis using the SCONUL model. There was little "Scoping" and lack of conscious "Planning". They were quite good at "gathering" and with "Evaluation" they would put a lot of emphasis on the source of information e.g. trust official information. They showed awareness of responsibilities to citizens in terms of what they do or do not share. "Information Management" wasn't mentioned. "Information presentation" was practised in a variety of ways.
(3) Using activity theory was good for exploring the social context - motivations, roles, obviously division of labour, tools etc. (they will be presenting more about this at ECIL in September)
(4) They didn't find the SCONUL model explanatory, and its academic origins will have affected that. Sharing was key to the councillors' role and not covered so well in the model.
(5) There are evident training needs, and opportunities for library support are being missed (specifically IL skills for community councillors).

Some points from the conclusion were - that it is interesting to see whether this relates to workplace research, and whether other frameworks could also be useful in exploring the research problem.

Information in transition #i3rgu

As the final session this morning at the i3 conference I attended a talk from Dr Rebekah Willson on Information in transition: the social flow of information.
This was from her doctoral research. It focused on the transition from PhD student to lecturer. She defined transition as a convoluted passage in which people redfine their sense of self .. in response to disruptive life events. The literature indicated that "resources available in the environment have a key mediational role". Willson also connected transition to the concept of liminality, where you are "betwixt and between" in the process of crossing from one space (literal or metaphorical) to another. This can be a time of not-belonging, when you are marginalised, and examining this place of transition can be fruitful for researchers wanting to uncover problematic areas, exclusions etc.
She gathered data from 20 early career academics, 10 Canadians and 10 Australians, in a variety of arts and humanities degrees, and from a total of 10 universities.
In terms of findings (1) Information needs. They had increased information needs, they change over time and in terms of urgency, and there is a lack of accurate up-to-date information (with university procedures unclear/undocumented). (2) Colleagues were very important as information sources. They were a more accurate, complete (including insider, non-codified), convenient and up to date as information sources. Willson referred to McKenzie's (2003) study of ways of finding information, which identified active seeking, active scanning (observing closely et.) and obtaining information by proxy.
(3) Collegial relationships. People found safe spaces by creating information relationships, and collegial relationships enabled social inclusion and support so the new academics could learn nuances of their new roles. Most of this was sharing information face to face, although online networks were used for broader topics.
(4) Bouncing ideas. This was iterative work on an idea, which Willson characterised as "a temporary space created between colleagues to work" - it is moving beyond seeking information, to interaction and enagagement.
(5) Physical proximity and "popinquity" ("tendency of individuals to form close relationships with people they repeatedly encounter"). People mentioned popping into each other's offices etc: there was also the example of the person who was physically isolated (on a difference floor) who suffered from this isolation. Information sharing, information encountering tec. is a by product of the social interaction.
(6) Informality was important - for asking questions you wouldn't like to document, to get the "real" story etc.
In conclusion, colleagues are a key information source, information flows through sharing and encountering, aided by physical proximity and interacting informally.
Future research includes examining the information behaviour of academics on short term contracts.
Photo by Sheila Webber: chairs in Aberdeen University Library

Full Fact - fact checking #i3rgu

Today's keynote, earlier this morning, from the i3 conference at RGU in Aberdeen. was Amy Sippitt (Research and Impact Manager, Full Fact)
Sippitt started by talking about how a false statistic about the percentage of people aged under 18 who were engaged in knife crime, and how this overestimate (roughly doubling) led in the end to a law being introduced. There were lots of opportunities for the office of national statistics or government departments to correct the statistic, but they did not. This false information had serious consequences.
Full Fact started in 2010, inspired by a fact checking organisation in the USA. However, they felt that fact checking on its own would not work. They therefore adopt a carrot and stick approach, involving, for example, working with organisations to help prevent false information being disseminated, and (the “stick”) pressuring for correction. Incorrect information may be sometimes a result of the unhelpful presentation of statistics etc. in, for example, national statistics. They have found responses to these pressuring have improved from months to hours, due to Full Fact’s persistent work.
Sippitt described their reaction to the surprise announcement of the UK 2017 general election: to get out out high quality fact checks, work with partners in getting out correct information, and strategic interventions in areas that had been problematic in the past. They have lobbied for changes to the purdah rules that restrict information given out by the government during an election period, as this can also be a barrier to disseminating correcting information. Full Fact reacted to key stories where facts would correct/ illuminate issues (e.g. “the dementia tax”) and paid attention to the places where people get their news, notably social media. They found that graphics were more effective than videos in conveying information.
For a key TV debate they were based in the studio, tweeting and blogging to provide a factual commentary. They have developed a fact checking tool which also enabled them to generate informative tweets very quickly to respond to things under discussion.
The number of fact checking organisations has grown, throughout the world. Sippitt felt that they were relatively lucky in the U.K., since they have access to officials and official sources, whereas in other countries the fact checkers may have less access and cannot have the same relationship with official organisations.
Full Fact would like to know more about the people i.e. the general population, who they want to influence. There is research evidence that people are misinformed about some issues, that people don't trust politicians, and may end up choosing between total faith and total cynicism.
Sippitt went on to list some research questions they would like to investigate. At the moment there was research whether we change our minds, but there were a lot of research gaps. A lot of the research was carried out in North America, which obviously may not transfer to other countries and cultures.
They wanted more research on: how Full Fact can best communicate; how Full Fact can demonstrate their credibility; how people consume information e.g. what makes people share their work, why do people get interested in fact checking, how can they reach people who are not currently interested; Full Fact’s impact on the people they fact check e.g. are they changing their behaviour.
Photo by Sheila Webber: a fact checking tweet that Sippitt showed for our amusement

Distance learning and the experience of variation: How authority can cross geographical divisions on asynchronous discussion boards #i3rgu

Next from the i3 conference at RGU in Aberdeen Dr Andrew Whitworth presented a paper coauthored with Dr Lee Webster on Distance learning and the experience of variation: How authority can cross geographical divisions on asynchronous discussion boards
The research problem was on how informed learning develops information practices, and specifically on how a particular learning environments can enable variation.
They studied how 20 small groups who had to coordinate activity across geographical space carried out a task. They were therfore looking at ability to navigate the information landscapes and how they made deicsions and used technology etc. to construct the context.
Dialogue was seen by Whitworth as critical as enabling students to experience variation in learning: Whitworth referred to Christine Bruce's work, in particular the 6 frames (relational model) of teaching information literacy (which I would add also draws on Marton et al.'s variation theory) and the concept of alterity (awareness and experience of the "other" which can expand understanding/learning).
The context was a postgrad course in educational technology (taught both on campus and online, as one cohort), and part of that was enabling students to make critical judgements about learning environments and technological enhancements. The shared informational spaces provide a boundary zone where the distance learners and oncampus learners can engage. Whitworth talked about the characteristics of the two sets of students (e.g. most oncampus from outside the UK, with English as a 2nd language, most distance learners from the UK).
The focus of this presentation was "The museum activity" (which is preceeded by other activities). Oncampus students visit the National Football Museum. Distance learners design their own field trips to other museums. Then have to work in groups to produce a proposal about something which will improve the 2 museum experiences (I think).
In terms of observations: (1) Students were probing for information about the context (including seeking the opinion about those who have visited in person) (2) Students were offering images, links, their own observations/ experience. (3) There is evidence that they are checking and validating each other's information, and interacting with each others' ideas so that they are "learning to make judgements together" (4) There were strains and tensions, but an example was given of a careful interchange when one student felt he/she had been patronising (5) They created their own lexicon within their dialogues.
Further issues concerned e.g. the role of power (role of tutor and self-constraint) and the nature of the parameters of the activity and how they constrain information practices.
BTW I accidently deleted a chunk of text part way through doing this post, so there may be gaps I couldn't fill in from memory ;-)
Photo by Sheila Webber: Aberdeen University Library, on Tuesday.

Information sharing in the ESOL classroom #i3rgu

Next from the i3 conference was Jess Elmore on Information sharing in the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classroom: a case study. This presented material from her PhD research, mainly focusing on methods and challenges. ESOL learners are learning English as a tool for their everyday life (not for tourism or as an academic subject), and they are also migrants (i.e. someone who is living in a different country). There are a million people across the UK who say they need to improve their English. Elmore related her research to that of ESOL and information (where there hasn't been much research from the information field); migrants and information (e.g. how people transfer their information practice; the importance of people and places); and information literacy and language learning (literature saying there is a link between the two, but mostly understaken in an academic context).
Elmore's focus is on information sharing (how it is mediated by people, places and objects): she is using Fisher's Information Grounds theory as a useful way to frame her research, and also drawing on practice theory.
Her research is sited in a Northern English city with a long history of migration into the city, and the research is focused on two ESOL classes, each a case study. The case study/class which was the focus of this presentation was a women-only class, in particular from Yemen and Pakistan. Elmore collected 35 hours of data, mainly observation, and she took an active part in the class. A central part of the activity were three trips to a city farm, a photography exhibition and a centre for the visually impaired.
Elmore discussed the challenges to the research: the power dynamics (and Elmore discussed the challenges of designing and implementing research that deals with that imbalance and does not "other" the participants). She talked about the duty of care to the partcipants, whilst also respecting their power over their own lives. Elmore was aware of how her research could be (mis)used, keeping at the back of her mind the question "What's the worst interpretation that the Daily Mail could make of this research"? Her inspirations here included bell hooks and Bev Skeggs.
Elmore gave examples of her data: observational notes, pictures, reflective diary and some transcribed recordings. She had hoped to do more analysis WITH her participants and she compiled a book with a story (pictures and a small about a text) which she took to her participants, but there was not much discussion from the participants. Her move from that was to concentrate on incidents of information sharing, and look at those episodes within the information grounds framework. She read out one of the episodes, and talked about how in the city farm they were visiting, Elmore herself, the learners, the animals and the signs were the people, places and objects (see the rather bad photo I took). Because they couldn't read the signs, the signs were less important than the animals, specifically chickens that the women knew a lot about and which were a link with their home countries. Elmore talked about spaces, and how people may be threatened and constrained by space. You could also say that there were information flows, and the visit might be said to be affecting the women's information literacy.
Discussion points were: critical stance to embodied information; understanding particular migrant experience; and, what arrangements constrain and enable information sharing?

Advantages and disadvantages of printed and electronic study material #i3rgu

First liveblog from the 3rd day of the i3 conference at RGU in Aberdeen. It was presented by Professor Ágústa Pálsdóttir and coauthored by Sigriour Bjork Einarsdottir and entitled Advantages and disadvantages of printed and electronic study material: Perspectives of university students
This presentation focused on the Icelandic study that is part of the Academic Reading International Study (ARFIS), an international study involving researchers in 36 countries. I have reported on some of these studies, particularly in my reports from the ECIL conference. In this presentation, the authors concentrated on analysis of the open question in the survey.
Previous studies from this project have shown that students prefer printed materials, but also enjoy the convenience of online access, and being able to search inside and across electronic material. Students consider themselves more highly motivated and more likely to highlight and remember what they read. Male students are more likely to prefer online than do female students. Studies to do with behaviours in different disciplines is inconclusive.
The research question of this study was: what are the advantages and disadvantages of printed and electronic study material? Through this is was hoped to gain understanding about preferences and help librarians make collection decisions.
The survey was conducted at 2 Icelandic universities, advertised to 12K students. Response rate was 7.33% (952 respondents), and 178 students answered the open questions.The questionnaire was based on that from Mizrachi's (2014) original study, translated into Icelandic.
Five main themes were identified in the open questions. (1) Printed or electronic material: in this they were stating support for one of the other e.g. "The more teachers use electronic course readings, the happier I am". There were two subthemes: flexibility (having both); preferring electronic but wanting to print it out.
(2) Learning Approach. The first subtheme was ability to concentrate on the learning material e.g. mentioning distractions reading online. The 2nd subtheme was ability to remember the material (mostly saying that they remembered better from print) and the 3rd that the length of the text matters (e.g. articles were good online, but not books and chapters).
(3) Technology: limitations and possibilities. First subtheme was searching and browsing. Some had said electronic was better and some print (e.g. "it's much more easy to move between pages to check material I have read". 2nd subtheme was note making - many of them explained about why they preferred doing this on print e.g. it was easier to make notes or highlight on print, or "if I make notes on the computer, I end up by writing notes which are too long and I lose the main point". 3rd subtheme is technological advancement. The students made interesting observations about how the current technology was not convenient and how it could be improved (e.g. that you couldn't change the layout of pdfs so they were fewer pages to print out; that the material was "badly suited" to read on a screen). The final subtheme was about physical reasons e.g. reading from a screen affecting sleep, causing headaches.
(4) Convenience and expenses. The 1st subtheme was organising and access, where online was emphasised. The 2nd subtheme was cost - and here digital sources were seen as cheaper or free and preferable to buying textbooks etc.
(5) Environmental issues. This was quite a strong theme e.g. that they felt guilty printing out pages.

In sum "The main reason why students prefer printed material is based on their study habits and they feel that the technology has not developed sufficiently to support their learning engagement." Additionally it seems that physical problems haven't been paid enough attention, without awareness of how this can affect study engagement, and environmental aspects have weight with students.

Photo by Sheila Webber: student magazines from the early days of RGU librarianship, seen at the 50 anniversary reception last night

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Information Behaviour and Breastfeeding #i3rgu

In the same session as I presented this afternnon, at the i3 conference at RGU in Aberdeen Hayley Lockerbie presented on Information Behaviour and Breastfeeding.
Lockerbie identified that there was "a skewed knowledge base" around breastfeeding, particularly influenced by the milk formula companies and their relationship with healthcare professionals. The UK has quite a low rate of breastfeeding (good initiation but low persistance). She identified 69 relevant existing research studies, most from the USA, Australia and the UK. The outcomes in many of them were focused on mothers, but some were focused on healthcare professionals, and e.g. one focused on fathers. There were seven broad themes. In terms of information sources, informal and blended information sources are preferred (e.g. written plus verbal). There is a tension between trusted informal information and getting access to the evidence base. In terms of need, e.g. there seems evidence that lack of information affects the decision to breastfeed or not, and there is a need for information for mother's before the baby's birth.
Healthcare professionals were another theme, who might be seen as "keepers of knowledge" but trust could be lost and different professionals might give conflicting information. In terms of content, there was an issue of accuracy, and of realism (what it is ACTUALLY like to breastfeed, with an over-rosy picture of what it is like). Media representation was also an issue. Technology (as a theme) is seen as an enabler, particularly online/mobile, but with concerns about quality. In terms of information seeking - mothers fear being judged (which is a barrier to seeking), the information gathering happens in phases, and one study showed mothers gathering information from a wide range of sources and then used the internet to "complete" it. Finally emotions - mothers have an emotional connection to information, and emotion can be part of the information landscape.
Thus, it does seem that information plays a role in decisions about breastfeeding. There seems a lot more to explore in many areas e.g. engagement pre-birth, connection of information behaviour with cessation of breastfeeding.
Photo by Sheia Webber: Aberdeen University Library last night

Towards an interactive data seeking and research model #i3rgu

I'm talking in the next session at the i3 conference at RGU in Aberdeen so, apologies, this will likely be a brief liveblog. Professor Gobinda Chowdhury (Northumbria University) presented a keynote on an interactive data seeking and retrieval model.
He started by talking about the pressures and rule changing that goes on the research field. One challenge he mentioned was the open access era - talking about both the growing requirement to make primary research data open access, and open access publishing. He saw a corresponding growth in the data management role of librarians. Chowdhury framed data as "the new gold (or oil)" (mentioning Uber, Amazon etc.), and pondered on the difference between information and data. He saw metadata and strings, words and phrases, as being the key elements in information - as opposed to data - retrieval. For data, people normally need to use other tools and systems to make sense of the data. The numbers alone will not have meaning without the context, e.g. the names of the variables, and the contextual knowledge of what lies behind them. He also identified specific characteristics of research data.
Chowdhury mentioned results from a survey in 3 countries asking about types of research data and what is done with it. He also reflected on how one might access research data: one example is a link from a published article. In that case you might get the context from the article. However, often you may be accessing data without that context. This is an issue with many of the searchable research data repositories: you also need to know a lot about the characteristics of the data before you can effectively search for it. Additionally, there may be potentially a lot of metadata you could add to your research data (e.g.the JISC repository profile has loads of fields) but few researchers may actually provide all this metadata. 30% of the people in their data research survey were unfamiliar with metadata and 37% did not assign tags to their data sets. Chowdhury also returned to the point that it was difficult to tell whether data was going to be useful until you had downloaded and explored it. The speaker identified a training gap in terms of understanding effective data sharing behaviour.
The international survey also identified challenges to data sharing e.g. Legal and ethical concerns, concerns about misinterpretation of data. Chowdhury then presented his model - interestingly it included the researchers themselves,the community culture, and the nature of the discipline, project, process, resources and (importantly) incentives (and not just metadata, indexes etc.)
Final points included that currently there was a focus on data discovery rather than data access, replicating traditional information retrieval systems. Key challenges focused on making sense, and using, the research data, and accessing research data.

Photo by Sheila Webber: St Nicholas Kirkyard, Aberdeen, a place full of metadata.

Rethinking information literacy through understanding disciplinary information practices @edwardluca #i3rgu

The next session I attended at the i3 conference was Edward Luca (an academic librarian at the University of Sydney) on Truly embedded librarianship: rethinking information literacy through understanding disciplinary information practices in higher education.
Starting as a subject librarian in pharmacy, his question to the literature was "how can we embed information literacy within a disciplinary context". The conclusions seemed to be that information literacy was genrally left to librarians, and that is was dominated by one-shot sessions, which may not be contextualised. He noted that the solution to this was often aiming to tie the IL education to student needs for assignments. However, there did appear to be a lack of real collaboration between librarian and faculty.
The value of "embedded" librarianship was seen as it being user-oriented, with closer collaboration, with sometimes even physical embedding within a department. Luca moved on to look at varying information practices within disciplines, and relating information literacy to that.
In terms of "embeddedness" he cited Bowler and Street (2008) and then went on to discuss the approach described by Farrell and Badke (2015) that they have employed at CUNY. This stimulated him to use qualitative action research with his own interventions in a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree. A key lens was the IL framework adopted in his university. He gave the example of "Foundations of Pharmacy" (year 1) where they had 3 weeks: but looking at sessions at level 3, they were actually teaching very similar things (assuming no retention of prior learning). There was also a "disconnect between expectations from faculty member in supporting documentation" and material actualy covered by the librarian.
Talking to colleagues, Luca discovered that integration varied depending on tehextent to which an individual librarian developed a relationship with faculty. The sessions tended to be orientation to the library, searching, and database searching. There was evidence that they were often "legacy" arrangements, that weren't well aligned and scaffolded.
Therefore he was advocating getting greater involvement of librarians in the disciplinary world. For the future in his institution, they are doing curriculum mapping and build in more scaffolding, as well as developing better disciplinary knowledge.
There was an interesting conversation afterwards about the challenges of getting engaged and collaborating with faculty (considering the power imbalance; the imbalance in interest on co-creation of knowledge - i.e. the librarian having to do all the work).
Photo by Sheila Webber: Aberdeen University Library

Instructional Librarians Talk about the #ACRLFramework #i3rgu

Next up for me (liveblogging from the i3 conference) is a paper coauthored by Dr Heidi Julien, Dr Melissa Gross and Dr Don Latham (presented by Julien and Latham) Being “Set Free” – Instructional Librarians Talk about the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. This is the framework (mentioned many times on this blog!).
The presenters were reporting on a survey they carried out amongst librarians in the USA, investigating "information literacy instruction practices" (concerns, views and practice). They included questions about how/whether librarians were incorporating the Framework in their practice. More broadly, questions concerned assessment practice, extent and nature of collaboration with faculty, objectives for information literacy education etc. The presenters then explained some of the background to the Framework: since regular blog readers will have heard more than enough about that, I will just mention that the move from the old ACRL IL standards to the less prescriptive Framework was described and the core frames presented (they can be seen at the link above).
The presenters also noted that there was a new definition of IL (the new definition is "Information literacy is the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning."
The presenters noted responses to the Framework in the literature, which they identified "generally reflect excitement about the framework" with some critique (which, on reflection, is interesting in showing a gap between the discourse in dicussion groups etc. and the literature, as there has been a lot of negative reaction too)
The survey was publicised via the key discussion list ili-l, there were 622 self-selecting respondents. 31% said there had already been significant impact of the Framework. The "vast majority" saw connections between the concepts and developing IL in students. However, there was still a focus on skills development. Reported changes included the sessions becoming "more of a conversation"; aiming to help students understand "how information works" and "develop transferable skills that they can use beyond the classroom". Another librarian felt that the Framework had "raised our instructional brand in a significant way". "The IL Standards were great as training wheels to get us moving in the right direction towards authentic assessment, but the IL Framework will truly set us free".
So, there was a generally positive reaction, although most have yet to modify their practice. Empirical work (an interview study is underway) is needed to confirm ongoing effects of the Framework. The presenter felt that "analysis is needed on the effects of the framework on student learning outcomes".
Photo by Sheila Webber: Aberdeen University Library, last night.

Modeling the Metamemory of Information Seekers Through Visual Metaphor #i3rgu

I'm liveblogging from the i3 conference at RGU in Aberdeen
Dr Leanne Bowler presented on Modeling the Metamemory of Information Seekers Through Visual Metaphor. She was aiming to generate visual metaphors that reveal, for example, awareness and beliefs about ones own memory, and about finding and refinding information. In her PhD, Bowler looked at metacognitive strategies in information literacy, adopting a metacognitive ethnographic approach (one article about this research is here). She became particualrly interested in in a category revealed in her research: "Knowledge of Task" (which included understanding memory).
She described this as discovering a person's schema about how their memory works. The challenge was uncovering this elusive area, as you can't really look "straight on" at metacognition. She had felt that metaphors might be a way of revealing the way the mind works and epistemological beliefs.
Her "metaphor" research had 27 participants, including teens, doctoral students, and people from 2 different Masters programmes. Bowler used brainstorming, sketching, metaphorical design (see Madsen, 1994) and fictional enquiry (essentially storytelling, including drawing the story). Bowler gave an example of a prompt she used with participants: "When I search for information my memory is like a... [object]". The participant would do the drawing and then the participant would talk about it (it was part of a 2 hour session including storytelling)
Some findings: the younger the teen, the less complex the notion of memory as it relates to information seeking (assumption that information is neatly stored in memory "information is waiting tio be retrieved"). One participant drew a picture of a computer (so like computer memory) andother of houses along a street. The older group saw memory as more complex, they had more ideas of tools needed to help memory. Bowler thought this could be linked to epistemological development, as memory is part of how you build knowledge. There were some metaphors that cut across all age groups. Examples of metaphors were a maze; something ordered (e.g. a picture of a chest of drawers, of a mailbox); "inferential" (e.g. using a musical metaphor when one thing was alerting you as to whether something was wrong or right); "elusive" (e.g. pictures of trying to get hold of a cat; trying to catch butterflies); random (e.g. information like sprinkles on doughnuts, some sprinkles fall through); effortful (e.g. memory like picking up a grain of rice with chopsticks).
Bowler concluded that the study demonstrated that metaphor can illuminate two complex phenomena. She felt it would be interesting to see whether different metaphors translate into ways of thinking and acting about information.
Photo by Sheila Webber: Aberdeen University Library (site of the reception last night).

Visual methods as an entry point to information practices #i3rgu

Day 2 of my liveblogging from the i3 conference at RGU in Aberdeen. Alison Hicks and Professor Annemaree Lloyd presented on Seeing information: visual methods as an entry point to information practices. The presenters felt there hadn't been extensive exploration of visual research methods in the information field, although there were examples of use. They adopted a definition "the use of images to learn about the social world" (Hartel et al., 2012) (images included multimedia, not just 2D static images). They felt there had been a move from the researcher being the one who took the images, toward a more critical and participative approach.
They categorised the methods into non-participatory (photo inventory; documentary photos) and participatory i.e. with the participant creating the visuals (drawing; mapping; visual elicitation; photo voice) and gave various examples of their use in library and information research.
They went on to talk more about photo voice (where the participants take photos in reaction to a prompt from the researcher, and then generally the researcher carries out an interview or focus groups with the photos as a focus and a way of eliciting response).
Hicks then went on to talk about how she used photo voice in her research into language-learners and their everyday information literacy. Her participants used an app called ethos and uploaded their photos to that. This provided a good project management tool, as Hicks could then share screens in skype and talk the participants through their photos. Lloyd followed by saying something about her research into refugee youth, where they were asked to take photos about their information practice (they took a very large number of photos and had to select their top 5 that were most important to them). {articipants discussed this in focus groups, and there was also active participation in creating presentations and exhibiting the photos to stakeholders. Lloyd highlighted four photos: of the women's health clinic (a photo taken by a young man, as they found the clinic useful for their own knowledge building); a football field (where a lot of information was exchanged and "you learnt about love" i.e. learning about being a young man in a rural community); a photo representing church and spirituality; and a mobile phone (which also connected them to their family).
The presenters identified some particular aspects of visual methods e.g. that can introduce richness and material that might not have been surfaced, although also it can mean that you can be drawn off topic. Visual methods enabled Hicks to get insight into the lives of participants in different countries, revealing had to reach aspects of their lives (Hicks showed a picture of a participant's bedroom and a participant's commute). Also it is valuable where the participants have limited language and literacy skills. Photo voice has become more possible because so many people carry their phones around with them all the time, and are able to document their everyday life.
There are ethical challenges: e.g. safety, confidentiality of others (this is particularly an issue), the way in which the metadata automatically attached to a photo identifies the time/location. The presenters had both talked through these issues with participants e.g. Hicks telling participants not to take recognisable photos of other people without their consent.
The presenters felt that there was more scope for participatory video. She mentioned )Bhatt (2013 who combines video and screencasting (I think that addresses the methods used there)
Photo by Sheila Webber: i3 delegates assemble at Aberdeen University Library

Jessica Elmore receives Mark Hepworth memorial award #i3RGU

Jessica Elmore, whose PhD I co-supervise with Dr Peter Stordy at the Information School, University of Sheffield, was today the recipient of the inaugural Mark Hepworth Memorial Award. She received it for the best abstract submitted to the i3 conference. The award is in memory of Professor Mark Hepworth (1955-2016) who was a valued information behaviour researcher and educator. Jess is shown here with i3 Chair Professor Peter Reid and Professor Graham Matthews, from Loughborough University, where Mark was a faculty member.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Job search information behaviours #i3rgu

I continue liveblogging from the i3 conference at RGU in Aberdeen. The second talk this afternoon that I've attended was authored by John Mowbray, Professor Hazel Hall, Professor Robert Raeside and Dr Peter Robertson (presented by Mowbray, based on his PhD work): Job search information behaviours: an ego-net study of networking and social media use amongst young jobseekers. This research was sponsored by the ESRC, and Mowbray was also exploring issues with Skills Development Scotland. He started with some statistics e.g. 61% people use social media during job search; 31% find jobs through people they know.
Previous research has suggested that it is important (for job searching) to have strong social networks, and tap into wider "weak" social ties too. Social capital is also an issue: developing social capital, and using those in your network who have social capital. Mowbray said there was a gap in terms of rigourous studies of job searching network. Mowbray's research questions were concerned with: what are the key offline networking behaviours employed by young jobseekers during the job search process, and how do social media tools engage with those behaviours.
This presentation focused on the initial, qualitative, stage of the research. There were 7 interviewees (17-24 years, 2 females, based in various locations in Scotland) Tom Wilson's 1981 information seeking behaviour model was used as a framework for the interviews (so gathering data on the person in context, barriers to job seeking, and on actual information seeking). Ego-net data was gathered by a "name generator approach" (asking them literally to name the people/organisations that had given them help; then asking questions about the help given). This was analysed using content analysis and also quantified to create ego-net visuals.
Mowbray then gave more findings relating to specific interviewees. "Ross" wanted an internship in the software industry, he did job search daily. His network included family (Mum and Dad), friends, tutors, classmates and various connections to gaming contacts either via games forums or via Twitter. This included forums hosted by companies that Ross wanted to work with: there was sometimes information about the skills needed in games developers posted in these forums and Ross could be active in the forum. Ross got 4 types of information: on practical skills needed; industry and job roles; contacts and leads and job opportunities.
A second interviewee "Steve" was doing less frequent job serach, with a much smaller network, and he was a less active networker (the information was being pushed to him, rather than him seeking it). There was passive information seeking, notably coming across job related information on Facebook. There was also a lot less information being acquired about skills, job roles and job opportunities.
The barriers to job search were typically: social (not knowing people to ask etc.), intrapersonal barriers (e.g. not thinking about using social media); situational barriers (e.g. lack of access to the internet). Conclusions at the moment include: situational context directing networking behaviours, and therefore "social capital accessed is largely ascribed in nature (e.g. family contacts)". It was also notable how "sporadic and unplanned" the information behaviour was (it being opportunistic etc.) Where social media WAS used it could have "potentially profound information impact" and could "provide access to higher level of (informational) social capital".
Photos by Sheila Webber: Mowbray presenting "Ross"

Exploring Youth Information-Seeking Behaviour @netchildren #i3rgu

I'm liveblogging from the i3 conference at RGU in Aberdeen. The first session this afternoon was authored by Dr Leanne Bowler, Professor Heidi Julien and Dr Leslie Haddon (presented by Bowler and Julien): Exploring Youth Information-Seeking Behaviour and Mobile Technologies Through a Secondary Analysis of Qualitative Data: Methodological Approaches.
They were exploring methodological issues to do with using secondary data, and implications for information behaviour research. They were reusing data gathered for the project
They started by defining secondary analysis: i.e. that it is data collected for another project and being reused to address different research questions. There is increasing interest in making more use of data collected with public money etc., so there is more pressure to share data, and growth of repositories.
The data set they were using was funded 2011-2014, and was a sister project to UK Kids Online (which I've blogged about before). The goal of Net Children Go Mobile, was not exploring information behaviour, but rather issues of online risk. The qualitative data, which was used for the project covered in this presentation, is not openly available online, but was made available after the researchers had asked whether it could be reused (permission of the EU project partners had to be sought).
They had 24 transcripts of interviews and focus groups with 34 children. (Also there were transcripts from 5 parents and 17 youth workers etc., not related to this presentation).
In this reanalysis they were seeking evidence of information behaviour, in order to understand how mobile technologies may be changing the way that young people seek and use. They used an inductive approach: two aspects they focused on were evidence of new aspects of info seeking; evidence of confirmation of existing info seeking models.
They found that the data did support some existing models of information seeking online e.g. that speed of access was important to young people; that there was an intersection between social media and information seeking, as shown in previous studies (with info seeking not seen as a separate activity, but part of using social media). In terms of technology affordances in relation to information seeking: there was notable co-searching. For example, information seeking could be a family activity. Serious information seeking was not usually done on a small-screen mobile device, but on larger devices such as laptops and PCs. Visual media (e.g. videos) were used for information. Also, the data plan used by the young person shaped data use and therefore information use. The speaker noted that this raised social equity issues (i.e. for those who couldn't afford aplan with lots of data). Finally "attitudes towards information credibility focused on security issues" e.g. if the site didn't have malware of viruses, they might trust the actual information on the website.
Then the speakers moved on to the challenges of data reuse. It was essential to ensure that ethical permission for re-use has already been granted. The reliability and reputation of the new researchers also should be investigated. It is important that there is a correspondance between the data set and the new research questions (and it may be necessary to explore the data before it is evident what ARE valid research questions that can be answered by the data).
Then there are challenges - or frustrations - to do with the protocols (e.g. wishing they had reworded a question a little; not being able to probe questions with participants). The separation between researchers and participants, which is not usual for qualititative research, means that the research and its participants is more difficult to contextualise. In this situation, there was not a huge gulf between the situation in the country where the data was gathered and the country of those doing the analysis, but it would be more problematic if the setting and population were more distant from those reusing the data.
The presentation was followed by some interesting comments and questions, including the ethical and access issues (concerned with re-use)
Photo by Sheila Webber: St Nicholar Kirkyard, Aberdeen, June 2017

Library TeachMeet in Plymouth

On 6 September 2017 there is a free Library TeachMeet in Plymouth. This event is organised by CILIP ARLG South West and CILIP South West Members Network. "This Teachmeet is an opportunity to boost your creativity just in time for the new term. It’s an informal flexible day led by the participants. Your input is invaluable! We’re looking to hear about your teaching experiences in any type of library or information setting. It could be a new teaching activity, or even an old one that really works well. Perhaps you’ve done some research or gathered some useful feedback about your teaching. Or you’ve started a new venture and have lessons to share." People can present in 15 minute sessions or 40 minute workshops, and there are also places for non-presenters. Register at
Photo by Sheila Webber: spot the cone, by the River Ness, June 2017

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Our wicked problem: educating for digital literacy

Fortuitously, this evening an very interesting talk was given at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. Since this is just an hour from Edinburgh, I travelled through to hear it after the seminar I attended at Napier University in Edinburgh. Professor Heidi Julien gave an invited talk on Our wicked problem: educating for digital literacy. She started by identifying that digital literacy wasn’t the “solvable” problem that some claimed. Julien then went on to talk about some of the issues associated with fake news: e.g. the extent to which right or left wing media might have more false news. She saw the fake news phenomenon (and associated filter bubbles) as “the making of a crisis for democracy, for good governance, for health and wellbeing” .
Julien identified the increasing resistence to experts by various constituencies (dismissing them as elites, biased etc.): she recommended Nichols (2017) book, The death of expertise: the campaign against established knowledge and why it matters. She encouraged people to engage: be active, expressing views publically, educating government representatives, and advocating for digital literacy.
Julien mentioned the #librariestransform campaign, #librariesresist, posters etc. created by the Association, IFLA etc. and various guides such as She identified challenges to digital literacy education including that people may overestimate their digital literacy skills, that information practices are complex, information seeking is a dynamic process, that people favour habitual practices and convenient solutions. She also noted that "people are irrational" e.g. that we tend to persevere with an opinion once it is formed, so there is confirmation bias. In particular "resistance to changing our beliefs is especially strong when those beliefs are central to our identity". he mentioned the "backfire effect" - that people confronted with evidence contrary to their beliefs might be even more strongly convinced of their own belief in reation. There were numerous other challenges to digital literacy - for example, that social conformity affected decision making (so if extreme views are the norm, there is pressure to adopt them).
Julien proposed that it is necessary for educators to engage with the issues in classrtoom discussion, and teach people to teach digital literacy - including teaching library and information professionals. She listed various essentials (such as being taught about learning theory, online learning, assessement - I will just put in an advertisement here for the Information Literacy module I teach at Sheffield University iSchool which includes learning about teaching and covers some of this ;-)
There was an interesting discussion afterwards that touched on topics such as: librarians and neutrality; access and awareness; how filter bubbles may create an illusion of digital fluence (that because you can navigate your filter bubble well, you don't realise what you are missing and your lack of competence outside your bubble).
Thanks to the Department of Computer and Information Sciences at Strathclyde for organising this.

Connecting People Connecting Ideas and digital ways #CPCINapier

Today I’m at a seminar at Napier University, Scotland, organised by Professor Hazel Hall and Frances Ryan. It’s called Connecting People Connecting Ideas, and is focused on sharing ideas for research and identifying priorities.
Most of the day is about discussing the ideas, but it is starting with a talk from Simeon Yates, on Ways of being in a digital age. This is the title of an ESRC-funded research project (which I see included someone from University of Sheffield, which demonstrates again that academics don’t know what’s going on in their own university, or that academics keep their research to themselves (or both ;-). The project has produced a report, but the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council, a major funding body in the UK) is still mulling it over (it commissioned it in order to steer its research priorities), so he was just able to indicate some themes.
He started by going back to Marshall McLuhan, with the idea that we would become connected, and Yates showed graphs indicating the growth in the numbers of communication media from prehistory to the present (obviously, with huge growth recently). He talked about the need for (and challenge of) interdisciplinary work. For example, the power of bringing together artists with people in information science and medicine, to look at a medical issue from a new perspective. He also emphasised the constants of culture and human interaction (e.g. gender differences in how peopel interact via txt msg is certainly not just to do with technology).
One of the foci for the project was probing the naure of digital inequality. He emphasised that some things that are associated with age/generation are actually cohort factors (e.g. young people may consume more digital media, but they also consume all sorts of other media, and it could be more to do with older people generally consuming less media because they have other things to do in their lives). He showed some interesting cluster analysis using Ofcom data, which e.g. showed the correlation with social class.
Another project he mentioned as I'd hide you (in which performers with webcams went round cities and tried to spot each other with enagagement from the public online: Yates mentioned a moment when the social/digital divide emerged starkly when a performer went to a good spot to hide and there were homeless people using that "hiding place" as a place to stay. That was an encounter between the digitally superserved and underserved. Yates was also referring to an Ofcom research project/report I have mentioned before on this bloog, which showed that although people with less money were apparently online, their dependence on what they could do on a mobile phone limited their options (e.g. they needed a better computer to fill in job seeker forms) and also didn't develop some useful skills.
He also looked at the various studies (again including a Pew study that I think I blogged here) that showed that people with different poltical opinions consumed and shared different media, with not a huge overlap. Finally he showed evidence that, whilst previous industrial changes had created different types of jobs, technological change did actually seem to meaqn reduction in jobs.
Photo by Sheila Webber: view out the window from the seminar!