Wednesday, April 04, 2018

#lilac18 Reviewing the role of teaching librarians in supporting students’ digital capabilities

This session is delivered by Manfred Gschwandtner who was a student on the MA library and information services management programme at the Information School, presenting his dissertation study, for which I was the supervisor. Manfred works at Canterbury Christ Church University, and became interested in teaching digital literacy following a change in his role description. He investigated how the faculty as a whole supported digital literacy, but this presentation focuses on the role of librarians. Manfred introduced the idea of academic librarians as part of the digital literacy teaching institutional  framework, and wanted to reflect on his own role in this. He used the JISC 6 elements of digital literacy capabilities framework as the framework for his research, which covers a broad range of capabilities, not just IT skills, that are necessary for the information society, including participating and collaborating online and digital wellbeing. So how can the librarian participate in this, and support this framework? Manfred interviewed a range of stakeholders from different roles (e.g. academics, learning developers, students) across one faculty in his institution in his research, in a qualitative case study approach. The data showed that most stakeholders saw the role of librarians to be restricted to “information literacy” and did not include broader roles around the teaching of digital literacy. The librarians activity is restricted to the data, information and media literacy aspect of the JISC model, which could be seen to be enough, but actually is there something more that librarians could do? This depends a little in the confidence and expertise of the librarian, and is an aspect of professional development that could be addressed.

Most graduate attributes include digital literacy, so it’s important for librarians to be involved in this conversation and to be seen as integral to digital literacy support. It is a great way to open up discussions with faculty around collaborative teaching. Many stakeholders are involved in digital literacy as a key aspect of employability, and helps position the librarian as part of a multi-professional team.

There is a role for librarians to expand their teaching to support more aspects of the digital capabilities framework.

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