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Posts Tagged ‘LILAC’

Patricia Ianuzzi is a librarian from Las Vegas, and I enjoyed her keynote, which featured references to online gaming and to Las Vegas casinos!

She began by giving an overview of information literacy and reports in the US, which I found very useful. These are some of the references she gave:

The Spellings Commission on the Future of Higher Education

The 1998 Boyer Report, focusing on undergraduates and research

A book by Derek Bok called Our Underachieving Colleges

LEAP (Liberal Education and America’s Promise)

NSSE (National Survey of Student Engagement)

Project DEEP (Documenting Effective Educational Practices)

This opening section of the presentation was very useful, as it gave the wider context of the need to train students in information literacy skills, both for education and the workplace. Patricia went on to say that she didn’t care what terms we used, information literacy, digital literacy, or whatever, as long as we achieved the learning outcomes needed.

She then moved on to speaking about Marc Prensky’s essay, Engage me or enrage me, which is the source of the much quoted idea that young people are digital natives, who have grown up with computers and mobiles and video games, are comfortable and adept with digital media, and expect to be entertained, and older people are digital immigrants, who are not as digitally literate, and have different educational expectations. Although this concept obviously has some good points, in general the reality is a lot more complex than that, there are many older people who are amazingly digitally literate and lots of younger people who use digital technologies very little or without much expertise.

In an digression from the subject, I have to add that I started reading Prensky’s follow up essay, Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, Part II and was horrified to find some of the ideas in it were based on ferrets having their brains rewired, poor things. I hope the ferrets take over the world and rewire the scientists’ brains, that’ll teach them.

Anyway, back to the keynote writeup. Despite not agreeing that all youngsters are computer whizz kids, and all oldies are digital dinosaurs, I do actually find all the research on making education entertaining very interesting. On the one hand, I think it’s important to remember that learning things in itself can actually be interesting for many people, I enjoy learning, and I don’t always need some interactive dancing rabbits to help me concentrate on reading a piece of text…however, on the other hand, I’m not a fan of boring people into stupors if it can possibly be avoided (or worse still, being bored into a stupor), and agree that making learning more interactive and fun can help keep people’s attention and interest.

That brings us neatly back to Patricia Ianuzzi who agreed with Prensky that students of today need engaging learning materials, and showed us a short video of three students talking about online gaming. Not only was the video interesting, but it made a nice break from talking and presentation slides, therefore neatly illustrating her point. We saw screen shots of the games, showing varied environments, innovative graphics, vast armies, aliens, visuals, explosions, and so on, and the students talked about game playing, and how often they played, and how they enjoyed playing competitively against other people.

At the end of the video, Patricia asked the audience what engaged the players, and the answers we gave included: immersion, interactivity, control, customization and visuals. She asked us, can we create learning resources which engage users using similar principles?

In Las Vegas, Patricia explained, casinos are drawing on video gaming to make their slot machines more engaging and enticing, with the key concept being PDI (player driven innovation). She showed images of game machines with embedded multimedia enhancements, and photos of interactive video game versions of popular casino games such as roulette and poker.

I found this keynote presentation interesting and engaging.

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Jenny Evans & Ruth Harrison (Imperial College, London): 2. 0 much to do: how, when and why should library staff find out about web 2.0, and what does it mean for information literacy?

The session was about an idea called 23 Things, which was a list put together by a public library in America to encourage their staff to try out different web 2.0 technologies (e.g. blogs, Flickr, wikis, YouTube, etc), and described Imperial College Library’s version of 23 Things which was called Learning 2.0, and ran for ten weeks.

We were in a computer room for the session, which was ideal, as we were able to look at the website, and explore some of the links, including being given password access to look at some of the blogs the Imperial library staff had created during the programme. The extent of entries on the blogs varied enormously, some people having only done one or two posts, and others still blogging now.

There were positive outcomes from Learning 2.0: just under a quarter of library staff took part, surveys done before and after the course showed that people’s knowledge improved; and since completing the course, there are more blogs and wikis at the library, podcasts have been adopted, and there is a library twitter profile.

Overall, it sounds like a good technique to follow to get library staff on board, en mass, trying new web 2.0 technologies, especially if having completed the course, people can opt to use blogs and twitter and so forth if they choose, and not if they don’t, as not everyone is comfortable sharing their professional thoughts online in a web 2.0 style.

Moira Bent & Elizabeth Stockdale (Newcastle University): Integrating information literacy as a habit of learning – assessing the impact of a golden thread of IL in the curriculum

This was an interesting session about teaching information literacy as part of the student’s curriculum (one of the central ongoing debates in information literacy is whether to teach it separately, or as part of students’ courses, so that they can immediately see the relevance to their studies). Moira is a librarian, and Liz is an Environmental Science lecturer, and they worked together on integrating information literacy teaching into Liz’s course.

Moira listed the pros and cons of teaching information literacy within a course (relevant, can work with academic staff, make it subject specific, etc; BUT, means library staff not in control, co-working can be difficult, time consuming, etc) and the pros and cons of teaching information literacy as standalone sessions (easier to make it specific, students can work at own pace, raises library profile, etc, BUT, keeps focus too specific instead of broad, doesn’t make it relevant to subject studied, etc).

Liz was a great advocate for information literacy. She had observed that students were finishing university without necessarily developing the information skills they needed, as there was an unspoken assumption that students would just develop these skills whilst doing their studies, whereas she could see that they actually needed more specific training. She emphasised the need to assess any information literacy skills they learnt, otherwise students would just not make the time to do it, e.g. Liz marks some essays on information literacy skills used as well as essay content.

Interestingly I have spoken to staff at the university where I work who are concerned about some of their students’ information hunting skills, the lack of breadth in their reference lists, and issues with plagiarism and referencing, so I’m very much aware that all this issues are certainly noticed as much by lecturers as by library staff, and think that integration is definitely a good idea, as long as there is time to do it!

Evening Event: Caerphilly Castle

In the evening, I went to the social networking event, which was a coach ride to nearby Caerphilly Castle, which was beautiful, with dinner and drinks in a reception room at the (mostly ruined) castle, plus live music, medieval or classical I think. I love castles, but didn’t go exploring due to the bad combination of conference shoes and free wine. I was lucky enough to talk to some very nice people, including a librarian from the Brit School of performing arts  (I’d love to work in a performing arts library!), some students who had places at the conference, a nice psychologist from Leeds and my friend Melissa Highton from Oxford.

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This is a write-up of sessions I attended on the first day of LILAC, the Librarians Information Literacy Annual Conference, on Monday 30th March 2009, back in the days before I had a blog. For more information about what information literacy is, see yesterday’s blog post.

I have to comment first of all that the conference was very well organized, as I guess you’d expect from librarians! There were arrows leading from the nearest Cardiff railway station to the conference venue, a table in the main foyer with conference handouts which was staffed at all times by friendly and helpful people, and even a cloakroom for storing bags. All session rooms had signs pinned to them with the time and name of sessions, which was very useful! The food was nice, and there was even a packed lunch for delegates as they left after the final morning of the three day conference.

The opening keynote was from Melissa Highton, someone I met when I worked in e-learning, which marks the first time I’ve known a keynote speaker! (I thought it was best I declare a bias before summarising her talk!) She now has the impressive title of Head of Learning Technologies at Oxford University, and gave an interesting presentation, coloured by her experiences at Oxford, and very much of the moment.

Melissa spoke of the profusion of different terms, such as information literacy, media literacy and digital literacy, and urged us to consider how the different concepts overlapped. As a librarian, the message I take from this is to be aware that our users may need help and guidance steering through a wide variety of web 2.0 technologies and different forms of information (books, websites, electronic resources, podcasts, videos and vodcasts, social networking sites, and so on). Melissa’s talk was entitled “Managing Your Flamingo” and opened with a picture of Alice in Wonderland struggling to play croquet with a flamingo mallet, which illustrated the difficulty of managing information in an ever changing world.

She covered a wide range of topics, including the peer review process (academics reading and approving each other’s work for publication in journals and books), and how it can sometimes be so slow that ideas have changed by the time the work is published; the need to consider the role of information literacy in a recession; the necessity of supporting not just international students but also international staff with plagiarism issues (using the work of others without referencing it properly), as other countries often have different practices to the UK education system (something I’d also learnt about recently at a workshop I attended at my own University on supporting people from culturally diverse backgrounds).

Melissa directed us to the Oxford podcasts, a selection of Oxford lectures on itunes, which are very popular. I have missed feelings about podcasts; it’s great to make some lectures available for people to listen to, but people with hearing impairments are unable to listen to podcasts, so cannot access them unless there are text transcripts; and personally, I prefer to skim read information rather than listen to it,  so I think text versions are important to provide both for deaf people and for reasons of personal preference too. Questioners at the end of the session also had some issues with podcasts, namely the issue of academics being happy to share their work.

The podcasts were part of a section where Melissa talked about open educational resources, which are very much in vogue at the moment, and are all about people creating and sharing educational materials. Again, this has advantages, but I can also see why not all teachers and lecturers would necessarily want to share their work and their style of teaching with others.

I enjoyed Melissa’s presentation, it was upbeat, intelligent, and very much rooted in current and emerging practices in e-learning, ICT and librarianship within higher education, and the need for librarians to keep abreast of developments.

Melissa heads the Learning Technologies Group at Oxford.

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