Monday, June 07, 2021

Impact of Information Literacy in the Digital Workplace

Last week I attended a presentation by Gunilla Widen on the Impact of Information Literacy in the Digital Workplace project, a project funded by the Academy of Finland 2016-2020. The researchers started by reflecting on how to define information literacy and reviewing the literature to identify common themes and issues identified in the literature. The researchers decided there was "a need for a holistic perspective, understanding IL both as a socio-cultural practice and as an individual competence", and used various data collection and analysis methods, with a particular effort to use quantitative methods (since previous studies had been mainly qualitative), to develop "a quantitative Workplace Information Literacy (WIL) measure", and they also reused qualitative data from a previous project.

Through their research, they identified 6 dimensions to WIL: Information acquisition; Information evaluation; Information environment awareness; Information use; learning from Information experince; Information ethics. More information in: Ahmad, F., Widen, G., & Huvila, I. (2020). The impact of workplace information literacy on organizational innovation: An empirical study. International Journal of Information Management, 51, 102041. 

The main lesson was that WIL can be used using a quantitative measure, adding an additional way of investigating WIL, although focusing on a specific aspect of WIL would be beneficial. They identified a link between WIL and organisational performance, e.g. leadership, innovation, social capital, and technology. Widen asked the question as to whether there was "enough repect for Il skills in today's workplace". The team included people from different disciplines, and Widen identified the value of publishing outside library & information science, and having an interdiscilinary team helped with this. Future directions were: Information leadership; IL management; new workplace settings (working from home); IL and wellbeing; and the WIL concept itself. They are publishing a book with Facet Publishing on the project, and also an article in the next issue of the Journal of Information Literacy (see here for previous publications). 

To quote from the website: "The overall aim of the project is to develop workplace information literacy standard and find suitable methods and measures to study the impact of information literacy skills in the workplace on different levels." The addressed the research questions: "How can different levels of information literacy (individual and organizational) be identified and defined? What are the differences between digital and traditional information literacy skills in the workplace? Which kinds of literacies are highlighted in workplace context? What are the differences in information literacy skills between generations? How do they affect collaborative work? What connections can be found between literacy skills, well-being, and productivity? How is the development of workplace information literacy supported by organizations and how it contributes to the achievement of organizational goals? What is the role of workplace information literacy in virtual and global workplaces?"
Photo by Sheila Webber: May rose, 2021

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