21 Jun 2012

Guest Post: CONUL Annual Seminar, June 14th 2012

Guest post by Alan Carbery, Assistant Librarian at WIT. Alan also runs the information literacy blog edlibbs.

The CONUL Advisory Committee on Information Literacy held their annual seminar in TCD’s Nursing and Midwifery College on Thursday 14th June. It was a packed day, with over 12 speakers taking to the stage.

Ellen Breen, Committee chair, opened up the seminar with a short report on CONUL’s survey of academics on the overall value and impact of librarians’ contributions to academic courses. Overall, libraries’ contributions are viewed positively with lecturers seeing improvement in the quality and range of information sources being used by students. There is also anecdotal evidence that grades have improved as a result of information literacy teaching. The survey also found that over 80% of academic staff specifically want further information literacy support and materials online.

Dr. Jane Secker, London School of Economics, was up next to talk about her joint project with Dr. Emma Coonan on developing an information literacy curriculum that addresses the need of undergraduates entering Higher Education over the next 5 years. Jane’s work is part of the ARCADIA Fellowship project, and was carried out in 10 weeks. The study used a modified Delphi Study method and talked to experts in the area of information literacy about what their concept of information literacy was, and how a curriculum might look. According to ANCIL (A new curriculum for information literacy), how you teach information literacy is as important as what you teach. Students don’t see information skills as separate to any of the other learning they do. The focus for a new curriculum should be on skills, knowledge and behaviours, rather than technologies and tools. According to Jane, librarians have to work with academic partners to implement ANCIL. Information literacy is everyone’s business. ANCIL is presented to us as a pizza metaphor with 10 strands to Information Literacy:
  1. Transitional (from school to higher education) 
  2. Becoming an independent learner 
  3. Developing academic literacies 
  4. Mapping and evaluating the information landscape 
  5. Resource discovery in your discipline 
  6. Managing information 
  7. Ethical dimension of information 
  8. Presenting and communicating new knowledge 
  9. Synthesising information and creating new knowledge 
  10. Social dimension of information literacy 
More information can be found on ANCIL from http://newcurriculum.wordpress.com and http://implementingancil.pbworks.com. Jane rounded her presentation off with a short clip from the ANCIL video.

The first round of Pecha Kucha’s took place. The Pecha Kucha presentations were designed to provide a short showcase into the various information activities ongoing in CONUL institutes around the country.
  • Jack Hyland, DCU - Jack spoke about using Moodle discussion forums for assessing IL in undergraduate business students. Jack gave an honest critique of the initiative highlighting some of the snags met along the way.
  • Philip Cohen, DIT - Philip spoke about the NDLR funded initiative in DIT to create a suite of online reusable learning objects in for business, law and media studies. Seven tutorials highlight DIT’s library resources.
  • Monica Crump, NUIG - Monica explained that following a merging of their circulation and information desks, NUIG devised a classroom and mentorship programme for their library assistants that saw them living the student experience through a series of information retrieval tasks.
  • Donna Ó Doibhlin, UL - Donna spoke about the use of student peer advisors during the University’s 7 week programme, designed to orientate and familiarise students with services in an effort to boost retention. Donna spoke favourably about the initiative.
  • Peter Hickey, UCD - Peter highlighted UCD library’s video tutorials initiative. Peter reminded us that we have 30 seconds to get our message across and capture our user’s imagination. 
  • Pauline Murray, NUIM - Pauline highlighted NUIM Library’s acquisition and lending of Kindle ebook readers to its patrons in an effort to develop its mobile library initiatives. The initiative has been a real success. Pauline highlighted some issues regarding personal amazon account restrictions.

After lunch, Dr. Claire McAvinia, a learning technologist from NUIM, spoke on her research into student’s use of VLEs. According to Claire, students’ use of a VLE is influenced largely by their lecturer’s use. According to Claire, students are the consumer in the VLE, not the content driver. Their use of discussion forums, chat facilities, etc, is relatively low. The biggest student usage of a VLE is to obtain lecture notes. It’s suggested that the assumed behaviour of the digital native is not displayed in the VLE. Claire states that we need to ‘wrap-up’ the various learning supports that are out there and find a way to present them collaboratively.

Dr Suzanne Guerin from the School of Psychology, UCD presented her reflections on implementing a learning to learn module in the School. The module was designed in conjunction with the library. Suzanne tells us that students were somewhat resentful of the module, claiming they were being taught skills that they already had. Despite this, the School felt that the module did lead to worthwhile learning experiences.

The final Pecha Kucha saw three more speakers provide snapshots:
  • Geraldine Prendergast, UCC - Geraldine spoke on UCC’s generic postgraduate module for Arts, Humanities and Social Science students.
  • Una O’Connor, Athlone IT - Una spoke on her use of LibGuides to drive information literacy instruction in Athlone.
  • Finally, Siobhan Dunne, DCU - Siobhan reflected on her experiences of being a student in an online classroom, and how it can help inform her teaching. Siobhan spoke about the benefits of reflection as a teaching and learning tool. 
As one of the only Irish events dedicated entirely to information literacy, the CONUL seminar is excellent for gaining an insight into the information literacy initiatives occurring in some of the academic institutes around the country.

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