Thursday, July 23, 2009

LTEA conference: Information Literacy at Sheffield

Last week I was at the Learning Through Enquiry Alliance conference in Reading.
Vicky Grant and Maria Mawson (Sheffield University Library, pictured right) presented a paper Information rich and knowledge poor? Information literacy as a core asset for inquiry based learning (IBL).
Firstly Vicky sketched out the information rich world and highlighted that the library is communicating in many different ways e.g. via Twitter, blogs, Facebook. She identified librarians as teachers of information literacy, emphasising that way that they do things has changed although the role remains. Vicky showed how their work as librarians links in with the Sheffield Graduate Attributes, and other institutional skills-based developments e.g. TASH and Sheffield University's focus on Inquiry Based Learning.
Maria took over and started by talking about McGuinness (2007) and she went on to talk about the IBL prject Developing a library community for IBL 2007-8 which was a development series that took place over a number of months, with lunchtime sessions that the librarians participated in to develop their ideas and practice of IBL.
Then she talked about the way in which IL was integrated into a core module Understanding Law, that is taken by several hundred students each year. An electronic workbook was developed, and there was collaboration between the Law School and the librarians in developing the material. As a support mechanism, a discussion board is very actively used - with thousands of posts each year. Sudents are encouraged to answer each others' questions, but Maria is also part of the team that monitors postings and answering ones where she can help. Thus librarians are visible as team members from the start of the law degree. There is a case study here: (there are links to articles on the right of this page)
Vicky resumed to talk about her work in the medical school. She had been involved in a less effective way introducing the library early on. Now she gets engaged early on, and Vicky has a joint lecture with an academic, talking about medical evidence, which is followed up by a workshop that helps students identify good evidence for a coursework assignment. At the end Maria also mentioned work with MBA students that had again moved away from the traditional model.

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