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Tag Archives: Literacy

See Sally Research ~ Joyce Valenza

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UTS Library ~ Transformed but not yet visited

Last week I was in Sydney visiting the ABC studios in Ultimo. While there I had a window of opportunity and I thought I could visit the UTS library. I started my studies at UTS more than twenty years ago and I was very familiar with the old library. Hearing that this library had undergone a significant transformation made me more than curious. However, I only had 15 minutes available and I thought I could quickly swan in, have a quick browse and then be off on my way.

Alas, it was not to be as the library has a security entry; this is definitely a new development. We were informed by security that we could enter once we registered our details as we were not students and did not have id cards. Prohibitive barrier number one! If I had more time available I may have registered, walked in and had a good browse. Time being limited did not enable this so I just looked in from the foyer and yes the transformation is greater than you can imagine! Gone is the brown and dingy library enter 21st century!

I may need to make a point to myself in the future to put time aside to visit and have a good look, however, I can’t help but wonder why so much personal information needs to be gathered each time one enters a public space?

 

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The PLUS model

I am still playing around with Go animate and created the following inspired by the PLUS model  for information literacy by James Herring. I am still not able to embed the animation here but the link below will take you to the animation.

The PLUS Model

Apologies to James Herring for the error in using ‘evaluation’ in place of ‘self-evaluation’. This is a very simplistic presentation of the model and does not take into consideration the scope of the Herring PLUS Model (please visit the link for more information). Nor does the animation allude to the malleability of the model in its ability to revisit steps in the information literacy process. Herring, on the websites linked, calls his model ‘iterative’ in this ability to move around the information literacy process. This is an important aspect as it hands over ownership to the student or user in devising a process that enables them to work in a way that is meaningful to them. This would certainly lead to greater engagement and transference of skills as ‘users’ can adapt the process to suit them as they become more confident with use.

With Go animate, I am  experimenting with the use of simple animation as a tool for information delivery in library spaces. Hopefully, the use of simple animation may prove a door via the web for students to come to the library and ‘ask a librarian’. This is only one tool available there are many more out there that are certainly worth exploring in our quest to make the library more visible, accessable and ‘fun’ for students today.

 

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My librarian workout

This video was introduced to me by one of my lecturers and I found it inspirational and confirming. I have included it here as a further reminder of the importance and scope of the role of the librarian.

 

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The invisibilty of Information Literacy

Having taught English in school contexts, literacy is front and centre in my advocacy as THE most important aspect of schooling. I argue vehemently that without literacy across the curriculum, then all other subjects are impossible. For instance, the study of mathematics would be impossible without an ability to read problems and comprehend what the task is asking of a student. If literacy is ignored in science, where there are quite specific understandings to be taught, then students are being let down in achieving to the best of their ability in science.  Beyond this, there is certainly a case for the argument that science literacy is quite specific to the science curriculum and it would be difficult for a teacher that is not science trained to be able to effectively teach these specific literacies. This reasoning naturally  extends to all specialist subject areas across schooling and it is this precise reasoning that justifies a whole school approach to literacy development and mastery. As a teacher of English, I feel strongly that literacy should be taught across the curriculum and take a whole school focus and not be assumed as the responsibility of English teachers alone.

However, information literacy was never on my radar as a teacher in schools. I have been aware of the process of research and resource based learning but the understanding of information literacy was always a bit hazy. Following is an excerpt from one my of my posts this week on my university forum with regard to these ideas;

As a teacher, I don’t think I ever paid too much attention to the information literacy ideas beyond a skill set. Yes, I tried to work with the ideas in my tasks set but not to the extent that I now realise I could have focused.
Like Langford (1998) points out with regards to information literacy and its lack of prominence in schools, information literacy was not on my radar. I had not even considered the term information literacy prior to this subject and if you asked me six months ago I probably would have related it to IT skills. ISP and other terminology that I had come across were somewhat disconnected and purely viewed as skillsets to introduce and pass on to students. Now I realise it was not effective enough. However, I considered the other literacy ideas such as visual, media, critical, social, cultural and other literacies. I was definitely concerned with literacy but the ideas were certainly disjointed.

At this point in my investigation, I ask myself why? I realise like most things I have already discovered, all things library have somehow been separated; or not integrated well enough into the whole school approach.

In terms of literacy, I now feel if you have literacy to do with information; that is how to define what you need to know, locate information, evaluate information, decide if it is relevant, and then make choices about relevance to your purpose, leading to what you will create and finally reflect on the process, then this literacy will help with all the other literacies.
Somehow it is still not clear enough and I am still working on my position, but if we are all (predominantly) relying on the super information highway for our information, then surely we all need to be educated in how to deal with this information and ensure that the information we are dealing with is the best information it could possibly be. Who better to provide this information or learning than the expert, that is the teacher librarian.

In my learning, I have discovered that this hazy understanding and application of information literacy is not too uncommon across the teaching profession. It appears to be one of the great challenges that need to be addressed along with the challenge of integrating information literacy across schooling.

In our information rich world, the cartoon below sums up experiences as teachers we may have come across.  It is a humorous presentation but adds the complexity of Web 2.0 challenges.

Langford, L. (1998), Information literacy: a clarification, accessed at http://www.fno.org/sept98/clarify.html

 

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Moving to clarity Eisenberg style!

Embarking on my journey of literacy exploration certainly contributed to a sense of feeling overwhelmed. Similar to the feelings I had when I first started learning about the all encompassing roles that a teacher librarian had to fit under that enormous hat of specialised knowledge. How could I, as the teacher librarian, pull together all these di(con)vergent literacies and present some kind of umbrella of super literacy combination, with information literacy as the connecting focus. I felt the urgency to instill cultural literacy, visual literacy, media literacy, this literacy, that literacy and then at the summit transliteracy. I don’t know if you have watched the video on transliteracy in the previous post but overwhelmed did not even begin to describe how I was feeling about my responsibility as a teacher librarian in this world of Web 2.0 where the information highway appears to be zooming faster that the speed of light…

Beyond this the closest visual I could find that seemed to incorporate some of the literacies with information literacy at the centre is the following that comes from the Durham District Board, Ontario website for technology in teaching. The visual is the from the Ontario Library Association (page 3). If you click on the image it will take you to the techtalk website.

Even though it covered a few literacy areas it somehow still seemed to be lacking and not all encompassing, or not in the way that I was hoping to be with my super literacy convergence.

I needed a breath… I needed a rethink… and I certainly did not feel anywhere near a position on what model I could create as an amalgam of all these wonderful ideas. Furthermore, the idea of providing the scaffolds to a model of my creation to cover the different abilities and stages added more anxiety to the process. Not to mention the compounding anxiety of ensuring critical thinking was part of the scaffold… Was this at all possible? How can I do this?

Added to this is I wanted this new model to be student-centred, with as much student input as possible. I wanted students to feel they own the process and what better way to own a process than contribute to creation of a model of this wonderful search process. As a result student questions would be paramount. Maybe students would need to study the various models themselves and then brainstorm ideas to individuate what works for them I reasoned. This is definitely an idea that I want to take with me.

Just as I decided I couldn’t think, I couldn’t decide and I couldn’t reach any consensus of how to assimilate all the multiple literacy ideas, I started to look at information literacy again. In my mind a little voice kept repeating ‘but they seem too simple, they have missed this literacy or that. The process seems too narrow.’ I was so critical and I started to feel I would never even be able to address Assignment 2 at this pace. I started to feel a sense of losing power in my information search process.

It was at this point that I picked up a book I had borrowed called Information Literacy meets Library 2.0 and upon opening up to page 4 it mentions “Our insurance will be a blog to give us the opportunity to add, comment and keep you up to date”; http://infolitlib20.blogspot.com. As curiosity would have it I decided to check out that blog right there and then and amidst the initial posts this vodcast by Mike Eisenberg was staring at me.

I watched it and it washed away my anxiety. I now feel comfortable with information literacy. Just like the multifaceted role of the teacher librarian it is impossible to do it all, all of the time (Herring, 2007). Literacy in all its guises is a whole school approach and it would be impossible for one teacher librarian to take on the responsibility of ALL the literacies ALL of the time. But focus on Information Literacy for Inquiry based learning or Project Based Learning well now I feel closer to achievement…. Aah now I can breathe a sigh of relief at one moment of clarity in this process of learning. Now for a well earned cup of tea… (maybe just a little bit of chocolate too)

Goodwin, P. &Parker, J. (Eds.) (2008), Information Literacy meets Library 2.0, London: Facet Publishing.

Herring, J. (2007). Teacher Librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century: charting new directions in information (pp 27-42). Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

 

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Information Literacy: Process to definition ~ Part 1

The previous few posts on this blog covered my exploration of literacy and the various forms of transformation it has taken over recent years. In trying to develop a more concise perspective of the multiple literacies available, I keep coming back to multiliteracy as a concept. It is a great umbrella for the multitudes of literacies out there and it covers most, if not all aspects explored. All literacies are important and add to our understanding of our world. It is a necessary skill for the 21century and the information explosion has made this even more urgent. Searching different literacies has felt like a process of literacy overload or more correctly information overload. However, the multiple literacy ideas we are presented with (and I haven’t covered them all!) are useful in understanding what literacy skills are beneficial in our information world. It is from this point that I want to turn specifically to investigation of information literacy…

Following is the first post in my investigation on the forum for my course and I have posted part of it here.  It predates the previous posts on literacy on this blog.

At present, I have just read the initial articles, accessed some websites that have been recommended and read a few posts in the forum. I am in the initial stages of the information process and I know I will be developing and revising my thoughts over the coming few weeks.
A few ideas come to mind:
1. Many of the information literacy models are similar to Bloom’s Taxonomy in terms of steps and higher order thinking.
2. Many of the models don’t have a great deal of student-centred or driven approaches to establishing and guiding the process. This has led me to think of a way to possibly achieve this.
3. A similarity between all models in process relates to scaffolding and integration across the school.
4. A lack of understanding presented by most in terms of reading ‘body language’, links to emotional/social intelligence and how this can be incorporated within literacy models. Although, you can argue that group work is a way of working towards developing these competencies. (I have definite ideas about the importance of performing arts in schooling and how they lead to such competencies)
The first point is very relevant and something that I want to investigate in further detail. More analysis needed before I can add ideas.
The second point is acknowledged in Herring & Tartar (2007). There is acknowledgment that this is an area lacking and the scaffold of the plus model booklet for students may be posed as being student focused as students are able to use this booklet to track questions, research process and evaluation. However, it is still a booklet developed from above and not by students.
I started to wonder how do we involve students in devising and guiding the process themselves, (more further investigation needed!)
My initial thoughts traveled to the idea of involving students in setting criteria for evaluation of projects as a possibility. As an example, In one project I had a class of students embarking upon the making a short films specific to genre.  At the outset of the process a class discussion about how do we assess the project was undertaken. The session was a brainstorm where students came up with their own criteria for assessment.
The whole criteria was student led and created. The result is that the students felt they defined what was needed to achieve the outcome(s) and they felt they owned the process. It became a conscious process in their working. As a result they were ‘thinking’ about what they needed to do to be successful. They utilised the criteria created as a checking process in the process of planning, learning and creating. They worked very independently, on their projects and I helped as a ‘guide’ throughout the process.
How does this link to information literacy? I questioned can thinking about the end product at the outset and thinking about outcomes and how to achieve them or display them be a key to encouraging student-centred approaches and involvement in the inquiry process. Does this facilitate a shift to empowerment and possibly transference of skills? At this stage I don’t know but it is something I want to investigate further.
The final point relates to emotional/social intelligence and its connection to literacies. When you consider the importance of social networking and web 2.0 tools, clearly it is social/emotional intelligence that may need assimilation in the various literacy models or possibly new models.
In terms of social/emotional intelligences, the performing arts/visual arts are definitely overlooked and this may be a key that all schools and national/international bodies can investigate. Drama/music and the arts are still negotiating inclusion to the ‘National Curriculum’; a reflection of an area that is not valued enough. When you consider that the arts are about meaning creation and transference of meaning then the arts lend themselves to skills that are relevant when discussing concepts of literacy that are linked to social/emotional readings.
Just initial thoughts, I am only at the beginning stages of investigation and I still have a long way to go….

Following are some useful links as a start in the process of defining Information Literacy:

The information read and accessed for the forum post include:

Herring, J. and Tarter, A. (2007). Progress in developing information literacy in a secondary school using the PLUS model. School Libraries in View, 23, 23-27.
Langford, L. (1998) Information literacy: A clarification, accessed at http://www.fno.org/sept98/clarify.html
Abilock, D. (2004). Information literacy: an overview of design, process and outcomes. accessed at http://www.noodletools.com/debbie/literacies/information/1over/infolit1.html
Herring, J. (2006). A critical investigation of students’ and teachers’ views of the use of information literacy skills in school assignments. accessed at http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/aasl/aaslpubsandjournals/slmrb/slmrcontents/volume9/informationliteracy.cfm
The process of moving towards an Information Literacy definition has begun… Now for some time to assimilate the literacy overload before I take the next step….
 

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