Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Keynote: Ralph Catts at CKVI

I am reporting from the #ckvi Creating Knowledge VI Conference being held in Bergen, Norway, 8-10 September, I am staying in an attic apartment down this street in Bergen (pictured).
The theme of the conference is learning, and also information literacy. There are about 120 participants, mainly from Nordic countries but also from a good number of other countries around the world. The proceedings started with bagpipe playing from the music librarian at Bergen University! The first session featured three keynote speakers, Ralph Catts, Vidar Gynnild, and Bill Johnston. Firstly they each gave 20 minute talks. Their abstracts are at and their biographies are here.
First up was Ralph Catts (Stirling Institute of Education) talked on Teaching and learning in higher education in regard to information literacy and diversity . He felt that universities were now in a new environment, since with the internet there was no longer a "sage on the stage" (although he saw a generation gap in coping with this information flood). This also meant that skills in managing and evaluating information came to the fore, so that we could be a knowledge society, rather than (which was the risk) simply an information society where people consumed (or were fed) information. Applying information to develop your own knowledge was extremely important. Ralph also mentioned the impact of economic cuts (which look like they will be sever in the UK). For example, could we still afford synchronous teaching (which was costly, since labour intensive), when technology meant people could access information at any time?
A key conference theme is diversity, and when prior knowledge of learners is diverse (which is often the case - e.g. different nationalities, ages) then then it's a challenge to identify this so that you can accommodate the diverse needs for learning. For example, mature students may have better communication skills, younger students better academic skills.
Ralph presented a hierarchical model of general skills, and emphasised that informed reflection was important to developing these skills. He went on to identify that there were different ways of developing information literacy in the curriculum: generic, parallel, integrated and embedded. He finished by briefly mentioning his interest in large scale study to measure the impact of information literacy programmes.

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