Hurrah for Friday! My, the past two weeks have flown by. There are a number of items I have scrawled on a list to remind myself to discuss for this post, in order to present a number of “things” I’ve been doing since my last post.
I decided to take a break from working on information literacy project tasks for about a week, as I was not feeling at all inspired and didn’t want to churn out crap work, just to have to go back and do it correctly a second time. I was feeling a little anxious about the brief hiatus, as I started to think that I was slacking, or that I wasn’t trying hard enough. Once I was able to convince myself that I had other work to do that was just as important, I didn’t mind so much. I actually shifted to working on digital literacy projects that I’m involved in here at the university. It began with “attending” a JISC webinar called Current Issues and Approaches in Developing Digital Literacy.
Because the weather was so cold, it made much more sense to me to stay in during lunch and get involved in this webinar. It was quite informative and provided me with numerous ideas that could be related to the digital literacy course being developed at UCS. The webinar reviewed four current DL programmes at universities across the country, with the Seedpod program from Plymouth really sticking out to me. Much like information literacy, digital literacy encompasses such a broad range of ideas, skills, and behaviours, that it seems almost impossible to nail down an all-encompassing definition. It was beneficial for me to know that there are a number of existing programmes out there to take instruction from.
Following the webinar, I went to the digital literacy course group meeting to further discuss action plans and tasks associated with the creation of the professional and academic development course, hoping to start in the Autumn. My role at this meeting was to review the Sconul 7 pillars of information literacy for my group-mates, and explained that it is not a task model, or a framework for course design, but rather, that it is closer to group of concepts related to supporting learning and enhancing academic experience. Whilst listening to a description of courses related to digital literacy, I was able to imagine how the 7 Sconul pillars fit into the assignments and tasks, as well as noting that information literacy does not have to be understood or practiced in order for someone to pass a course, however, without it, learners miss out on important cognitive skills that can, essentially, be used in a number of other life and learning experiences. The digital literacies course is coming along, but I find my own role slightly undefined, as, with regard to digital literacy, the library seems to fit in more with subjective learning objectives or outcomes, rather than being apparent in more concrete, task-design aspects. Nonetheless, it is a very exciting process to be part of and I think my work with information literacy ties in so well with this!
Along with information and digital literacy, I’ve been doing a great deal of work with some Social Work students. I was asked to find and collect a number of resources related to discrimination of groups of people in the UK, including audio and video, as well as text, in order to give the students in the module a head start on their group assignment. It was very difficult to look for so much general information, but I managed to find many bits and pieces for each group to use. Because I was preparing this information for students, I wanted to make sure the information put out for use was adequate. At the end of the day, the students may never access the information I’ve gathered for them, but to me, it matters that what IS there is quality information. I decided to take things a step further by posting the information within the course module on the VLE, as well as create a link to it on the module discussion board. I also, to cover all bases, emailed the students in the module to inform them of this information, and invite them to schedule a session with me to work with their group (that was my line manager’s idea!). To my surprise, one group did actually contact me to schedule a group session, and one student emailed me back to ask about my role as their librarian. It felt like a success!
When I met up with the group this past week, it didn’t, at first, seem to be going the way I envisioned. I thought I would get the group together in a room with computers where they could all work searching for information they needed to complete their assignment. It turns out, however, that this was the first time the group had met to discuss their assignment, and therefore, we all needed to take a step back. I decided, at that point, to abandon my plans for performing literature searches and, instead, work as a mediator for the group and to take relevant notes. While the group discussed their plans for the structure of the information they would present, I typed their objectives up on the computer, which was projected on a screen at the front of the room. I later learned that one of the students is dyslexic and felt bad that I had typed everything in black. It was one of those learning moments for me to take into consideration for next time. By the end of the group session, while I had not exactly helped the students find any information, I did ask them questions I thought would encourage more critical thinking. In the end, it felt like a situation where even though they thanked me and told me how much they appreciated my help, I didn’t feel quite deserving.
Along with the social work students, I had an opportunity to demonstrate some of the learning and teaching theories I’ve been reading about in the past 3 weeks during a session with about 5 international MBA students. I had a powerpoint presentation ready for them, so I was confident that I wouldn’t forget to point out certain pieces of information, and the group was small, so it was a nice opportunity to get my feet wet. The session seemed successful- they students asked a couple of questions and they didn’t appear to be bored with what I was telling them. I was lucky that their course instructor came along to help relate some of the information I was telling them to their specific course objectives, which put things into perspective for them. Having their instructor there allowed me to see what information I was neglecting to cover, which was very helpful.
With regard to my future training plans, I have enrolled myself into the oCTEL course, presented by JISC, as well as participate in a number of activities, again provided by JISC and the Higher Education Academy related to digital literacy and teaching students in a digital world. I very much look forward to taking part in those activities!
Two more quick things: the SLA Europe conference sponsorship application deadline was last week and the UKSG sponsorship deadline is today…I’ll be on pins and needles until the winners are announced!