Summary of IFLA information literacy conference

Here’s a list of all my blog posts from this conference:

Some ideas which didn’t quite fit in the other blog posts:

  • Not addressing information literacy well in schools creates a problem for universities
  • Today’s students are no longer the people our education system was designed to teach
  • Encourage students to use Zotero – universities  subscribe to e.g. RefWorks, but if they use that, they’ll lose all their info when their student status ends

It was a great conference – friendly people, fab venue at the University of Tampere, amazing food, free wifi.

Pulla and coffee

I think I’ve got a new favourite country, and it’s Finland.

Update: speakers’ presentations are now available on the conference website


Engaging learning environments for the future

Elizabeth Stone memorial lecture

by Kirsti Lonka, Professor of Behavioural Sciences at the University of Helsinki

Kirsti told us about the Designing society through thinking project, which is part of World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 – I love this idea, and it seems typically Suomi!

Integrated competence as the goal of higher education (HE) – an idea that came from medical education – problem-based learning.  Knowledge is important, but students need to learn how to be self-regulating, to think, communicate, have emotional intelligence, be able to handle stress (theirs and other people’s), think ethically, see technology as a natural part of life.

She introduced us to the sociocultural idea of human mind:

  • Learning always takes place in a context
  • The context relies on culturally and historically developed structures
  • Human mind or brain does not simply ‘grow up’ biologically, but it is sensitive to being nurtured in a human-life environment

The “bulimic learning model” involves taking in knowledge, storing it and regurgitating it for assessment.  This type of instruction aims to fill a container (the human mind takes in knowledge, spreads it on the exam paper, then forgets it).  The goals are defined in quantitative terms e.g. a student scored 60% in a test.  This means they know 60% (of what?).  How do such practices shape our minds?

Modern ideas of learning involve the learner as central in the creation of meaning, not the teacher as transmitter of knowledge (Biggs 1996).  Learning as an active, constructive process rather than a passive, reproductive process.  How do these ideas really apply in HE practices?

What is epistemic agency? (Scardamalia 2002)  Epistemic agency indicates that the students themselves deal with the problems of goals, evaluations, and long-range planning that are normally left to teachers and managers.  Instead of studying for isolated courses and credit units, students engage in personally meaningful study projects.  Epistemic agency and self-regulated learning are valuable aspects of HE.

Our working days don’t roll as out planned, even with meticulous preparation.  We have to teach students how to cope with this kind of fast-paced working life, and how to manage interruptions etc.

Technology is a part of our social and knowledge practices.  95% of young Finns use technology for leisure, but only a very small proportion for education, so they learn that it is a distraction, not a potential work tool.  Blended learning environments combine physical, virtual, social, mobile and mental spaces of learning.

What is interest?  Interest is a psychological state including an affective component of positive emotion and a cognitive component of concentration.  Students who experienced more interest also showed more persistence, and performed better in a recall test.  Caring/interest correlates with results.

Four-phase model of interest (Hidi & Renniger 2006)

Situational interest (CATCH)
A) triggered
B) maintained

Individual interest (HOLD)
A) emerging
B) well-developed

Agency and ownership are so important.

What makes lessons interesting? (Tsai et al 2008)

  • If the teachers control too much, students’ emotions are less positive
  • Cognitive autonomy support gives students an enhanced sense of control
  • Cognitive autonomy is supported during lessons where students’ prior knowledge and understanding are activated and aims are transparent

Such lessons are associated with more enjoyment and interest!

Four-channel model of flow (Csikszentmihalyi 1988)

Four channel model of flow

Challenge and feeling of competence is a recipe for success!

What do Kirsti’s studies show so far?

  • even mass education can be engaging and promote flow
  • academic emotions, especially interest, predict cognitive academic outcomes
  • on the basis of our measurements, can group students into c,uses that react differently in instructions settings:  “cook-book learners”, “theorists”, “reflective professionals”
  • during an engaging lecture, optimism, reflective thinking and student engagement may increase

Creating new knowledge practices

Collectively cultivated knowledge practices have their impact on the nature of learning.  Knowledge practices are social practices related to working with knowledge and they include personal, collaborative and institutional routines.

The knowledge practices of digital natives (those born since 1990) are different. Typically, they multi-task, read from screens, are fond of computer games, make extensive use of social media, use online chat; and outsource many cognitive functions to different technological tools.  Collaborative knowledge construction means connecting people and ideas!

Reflect on what has been constructed collaboratively.  Puzzles and problems are great for deep learning.

New practices call for new tools – Kirsti has been involved in designing new office environments for academics which have multi-level desks, electricity points, space to hide cables, separate space for drinks.  Also, the practices of informatics have drastically changed.  Libraries may support a range of student activities in a flexible learning environment.  The library’s physical space can provide a unique learning experience to the students as well as allowing a new level of social interaction.

23 Things Oxford – a poster at #IFLAinfolit

Last week I attended the IFLA satellite conference The Road to Information Literacy – Librarians as Facilitators in Tampere, Suomi/Finland, and presented a poster about 23 Things Oxford.

@laurajwilkinson and 23 Things Oxford poster

The Moomin images in the poster were used with the kind permission of the trademark holders, Bulls Press.

Here is the full text of the poster:

The 23 Things model – from social media exploration to other forms of information literacy training

1. The original 23 Things idea

In 2006, the original 23 Things programme, Learning 2.0, was designed by Helene Blowers in the USA.

Aim: to introduce library staff to emerging technologies through the completion of 23 things, or tasks.

Participants record their progress by blogging about their experience each week, during which there was a focus on a different set of tools and two or three Things to complete.

Content was delivered through the Learning 2.0 blog, allowing the programme timing to be self-directed by participants.

2. 23 Things Oxford

From my previous experience as a teacher, I could see that students learned most effectively when they were actively engaged in the learning process.

23 Things is user-centred, accessible to both full-time and part-time staff, and allows participants to choose a level of challenge by offering the basic and advanced routes through the activities.

In late 2009 I came up with the idea of modifying the Creative Commons licensed Learning 2.0 programme for Oxford’s librarians.

3. Planning

I assembled a team of web 2.0 enthusiasts to help me with the planning and delivery of the programme.  We only met twice; the rest of the work was done online via Google Docs, in the spirit of the programme.

We created a list of weekly themes and then the 23 Things activities themselves.  We extended the programme from 9 to 12 weeks and added newer tools, such as Twitter.

4. Modifying the programme

We were aware that some participants might be reluctant to sign up to some of the social networking sites and for these tasks we avoided compulsory sign-up.

We attempted to keep the number of different accounts to a minimum; where possible we used Google and Yahoo! services in order to achieve this.

We also decided to run a series of drop-in sessions to provide 1:1 support and additional hardware or computer functionality to which not all participants may have had access e.g. cameras, and sound enabled PCs so they could listen to podcasts.

5. Go live!

23 Things Oxford began on 18th January 2010 and finished 12 weeks later on 9th April.  A new year, a resolution to commit to learning, and a springtime flowering of possibilities and potential for the tools experienced to be used in libraries.

23 Things Oxford was delivered via the Ox23 blog. Each week, 3 or 4 posts were published including an introduction to the week’s theme, step-by-step instructions on how to complete the Things and ideas for exploring the topic further.

6. Themes for each week

  • Introduction and personalised homepages
  • Blogging
  • RSS feeds
  • Online photos and images
  • Social bookmarking
  • Podcasting / YouTube
  • Social networking
  • Twitter
  • Wikis
  • Office 2.0
  • Widgets
  • Summary of experiences

7. Participation

138 members of library staff registered to take part in the programme and set up blogs to record their progress.  82 participants successfully completed the programme.

8. Incentives

We decided that a small incentive was a good way to encourage participants to complete the programme. CrossRef kindly agreed to sponsor the programme in order to fund the prizes. Each participant who completed all 23 Things by 9th April was given the choice of either a £10 Amazon or iTunes voucher and their names were entered into a draw for an iPod Nano.

9. End-of-programme survey

At the end of the programme, all participants (whether they completed successfully or not) were invited to take part in a survey.  The response rate for this survey was 72%.  Many respondents reported increased confidence in tackling something new and improved skill level in using the tools explored during the programme.  They enjoyed the range of tasks and the online community that built up as participants began to read and comment on each others’ blogs.

10. Survey summary

The majority of respondents said they found the frequency, duration and level of the tasks just right. An overwhelming 93% said they would recommend the programme to their colleagues.

23% of respondents to the survey said that they did not complete the programme. The main reason given for this was lack of time. Other responses were that the tasks were too difficult and concerns over privacy and the number of accounts created.

11. Feedback from participants

In addition to the survey responses, we received feedback from the emails and blog posts from of the participants. An area that was often cited as a success was the community, both online and in our libraries, which the programme created.

In the next frame is a selection of comments from the participant’s final blog posts where they were asked to summarise their experiences with web 2.0 during the course of the programme.

12. Quotes from participants

“I’m delighted to have mastered so much & to have explored Web 2.0. I feel much more confident technically & am delighted that, at last, I know what this stuff actually *is*.”

“I felt it was an excellent and timely opportunity for me to expand my knowledge of Web2.0 tools and somehow determine the extent to which they could be effectively used in a University library setting.”

“23 things was definitely a worthwhile program, and I learnt lots, and it’s inspired me to the possibilities of Web 2.0.”

13. The organisers’ perspective

There is no doubt that being involved in the running of the 23 Things programme at Oxford was an enjoyable and rewarding experience. It was also a great challenge. No matter how well prepared we thought we were, we still encountered some issues as the weeks went by; none however were insurmountable.

14. Lessons learned

One thing we were not prepared for was the unease with which some participants greeted the public nature of web 2.0.

We had anticipated that signing up to Facebook would be controversial for some and therefore did not require it for completion of the task that week; however we met similar concerns with LinkedIn and modified the task to reflect this.

Some participants chose to remain anonymous, and created accounts and blogs under a pseudonym.

15. A different type of training

One of the most interesting aspects of the programme was its success as a training programme which staff completed at their desks. A number of participants commented on this on their blogs and expressed a desire to have more training delivered in this way. This was of particular interest as most of the training for library staff at Oxford has previously taken place in face-to-face workshops. Releasing staff to attend such workshops can be problematic, especially in libraries with a lot of part time staff.

16. What next?

Since 23 Things Oxford, similar programmes have been run at the universities of Cambridge and Warwick.  At Oxford, with so many library staff now more familiar with social media, the next step was to use these skills to create or improve the social media presence of Oxford libraries.

As a follow-up, the 23 Things Team ran an event called 23 Things Summer Camp to help library staff with the Strategy, Setup and Synchronisation of their social media tools.

17. Further applications of the 23 Things model

There is great potential for the 23 Things model to be broadened to deliver not just social media exploration, but other aspects of staff development and training.  The structure of the scheme allows individuals to participate at their own pace without being tied to a venue or time of day.  The programme can also be differentiated to allow people with varying levels of prior knowledge to take part at a level that suits them.

18. Main benefits of an online learning programme

Timing is flexible – participants can follow the programme at any point in the week, and are not obliged to attend a session at a particular time

Timing is inclusive – everyone can participate on an equal basis, whether they work full- or part-time

Not tied to a specific location – staff can take part from their usual workplace, without having to travel to a particular training location

19. Examples of other applications of the 23 Things model

Many staff development courses could be adapted for delivery within this model such as:

  • Introduction to the organisation and its history and staffing structure
  • Information about personnel services, pensions, benefits, policies
  • Basic health and safety e.g. fire awareness, manual handling
  • Management development
  • Information literacy
  • Using the OPAC or other web interfaces to library resources

20. Key ingredients of a successful online learning programme (1)

Have clear instructions for each week’s tasks, and keep them concise.

Have specific outcomes for each task, so that participants know what they have to blog about in order to have completed each Thing.  Reflective weeks and open-ended topics are OK but use them sparingly.

21. Key ingredients of a successful online learning programme (2)

Differentiation – participants can choose the task most suited to their experience and ability.  For example, set tasks at novice, intermediate and advanced level for the same topic, so that all participants increase their knowledge, but the outcomes are slightly different.  This helps to engage all staff, rather than aiming a training session at an ability/experience level.

Encourage people to comment on each other’s blogs, to develop conversations and build a sense of community.  Having the organisers take the lead on this helped other people to get involved too.

22. Key ingredients of a successful online learning programme (3)

Support the online learning with face-to-face sessions, so people who are stuck can get help.  This is especially important for those who are less confident with technology in general, as they are least able to ask for help via email and may become frustrated and give up earlier than more experienced users.

Focus on student-centred learning: what have the participants gained from their involvement, and can they demonstrate their new knowledge and skills?  This is the antidote to traditional training in which the presenter tells the audience what they should know, but does not engage with their audience or test their learning.

23. Credits

Thank you to the other members of the 23 Things Oxford Team: Emma Cragg, Jane Rawson, Angela Carritt and Penny Schenk; to CrossRef who sponsored the prizes and to all those who participated in 23 Things Oxford and 23 Things Summer Camp.

Contact details

Laura J. Wilkinson

St Hugh’s College, University of Oxford


Web discovery tools and user experience

This presentation was given in two parts: a perspective from Sheffield Hallam University and a case study from the British Library

1. Matt Borg & Angie DonoghueSheffield Hallam University (SHU)

At SHU they have recently implemented Summon – a shift from systems that librarians know how to navigate to ones that are intuitive.  An excellent user experience requires the right systems

Connecting users with the information they seek is one of the central pillars of our profession.  James Vaughn

Summon was rebranded to “Library Search”.  The implementation of a web-scale discovery service allowed librarians to focus on the process, not the tool, when delivering information literacy sessions.

The trouble with Summon is that students don’t need to be taught how to use it, but librarians do.  Matt Borg via Daveyp

Matt told us about the concept of shoshin, or beginner’s mind: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”  Use the system like a user, not like a librarian.

We are not our patrons

2. Louise Doolan, British Library (BL)

In 2008, the BL had 37 online catalogues.  One of them looked like this:

Old BL Catalogue

The British Library chose Primo as their resource discovery interface, and branded it as Explore.  It was launched in 2012:

Primo at the BL

The old catalogue only indexed about 8% of whole collection; Explore/Primo now indexes 33.5%.  Explore is the main gateway to the collections, but it’s still not the only catalogue.

“We had to take complex Boolean searching away from our librarians.”  The culture change began as a drip feed – they wanted to get the doubters on board.  Theories and an academic framework were used to ensure buy-in from stakeholders who would respond to this type of approach.  Information literary was not mentioned.

A communication and training programme for library staff was initiated to ensure that all staff could support researchers, taking account of users’ variance in information literacy skills.  SCONUL’s 7 pillars of information literacy model was adapted – ‘researcher’ was changed to ‘librarian’, and the ‘evaluate’ and ‘present’ pillars were not relevant in this context:

  • Identify: a librarian is able to identify a need for information to address the research question
  • Scope: a librarian can assess their current knowledge and identify gaps
  • Plan: a librarian can construct strategies for locating information and data
  • Gather: a librarian can locate and access the information and data they need
  • Manage: a librarian can organise information professionally and ethically

Researcher Development Framework (RDF) – describes knowledge, skills, behaviours and personal qualities of researchers at different stages of their careers and encourages them to aspire to excellence.

The adapted pillars of information literacy and Domain A characteristics of the RDF also fed into the BL’s list of professional competencies and are used in appraisals.

Facilitating learning through guided enquiry

Professor Carol Kuhlthau, Rutgers University, USA

The problem is—and this is true of books and every other medium—we don’t know whether the information we find [on the Web] is accurate or not. We don’t necessarily know what its provenance is. So we have to teach people how to assess what they’ve found. That’s a skill, a critical-thinking capacity, which is important no matter what the medium. It’s just more dramatic in the World Wide Web, where there’s so much juxtaposition of the good stuff and not-so-good stuff and flat-out-wrong stuff or deliberate misinformation or plain ignorance.  Vinton Cerf

Common misunderstandings

  • The Internet is a digital library
  • Users are competent, independent and self sufficient
  • There is no need for library or librarian

What value do librarians add to learning in the information environment?

What is the essential role of librarians in 21st century education?

A definition of information literacy (IL)

The ability to locate,


and use information


for learning, thinking and creating.

IL in the 21st century

  • IL is the core of what it means to be educated in the 21st century.
  • It is understanding how to learn and innovate from a variety of sources of info.
  • Literacy is not just reading and maths any more.
  • Textbooks do not put students into the real world of contending with multiple sources of information.
  • Research matters.

To build, sustain and improve a field, use this triad:

  • tradition and knowledge
  • expertise and best practice
  • research and innovation

Constructivist theories tell us that there is uncertainty in learning.  There are three dimensions of experience from the student perspective:

  • Affective – feeling
  • Cognitive – thinking
  • Physical – acting

Model of the information search process (Kuhlthau 2004)

Model of the information search process

Uncertainty is the beginning of learning – without it, we are collecting fact; copying and pasting.

Student quote:

“The mind doesn’t take everything and put it into order automatically… Understanding that is the biggest help.”

It’s not what students expect.

Zone of intervention

This is the area in which an information user can do with advice and assistance what he or she cannot do alone or can do only with great difficulty.  Intervene at the right time.

Potential zones of intervention in the information search process

Invitation – getting started

Selection – background, ideas

Exploration – confusing uncertain

Formulation – focus turning point

Collection – focusing gathering

Presentation – creating, acting, solving

Guided inquiry

Grounded in the research of the information search process [ISP].  Based on constructivist approach to learning in a complex information environment.  The goal is to prepare students for living and working in the changing information environment of the 21st century.  Guided inquiry is what we do; ISP is what the information users do.

Guided inquiry design

This is a framework for you to use to guide your students through the inquiry process.

Guided inquiry design process

The stages are: Open, Immerse, Explore, Identify, Gather, Create, Share, Evaluate.

The third space

Most school learning takes place in the second space – doesn’t mean much to students.

The guided inquiry design process roots the learning in the students’ world.  Transforms the library into an inquiry lab for IL.

Combining the guided inquiry design process into the information search process

Combining guided inquiry and information search

Information workers consider information-seeking a necessary preliminary activity to the more significant endeavour of using the information to accomplish the tasks and goals that encompass their work.  People who are proficient at this process are extremely beneficial to the success of their organisation 🙂

Seamless delivery of learning support services

Seamless delivery of learning support services: an emphasis on delivering programs that “make sense” to students

Vicki McDonaldQueensland University of Technology (QUT)

Vicki’s learning support programme combined information literacy (IL) skills and academic skills such as study skills and strategies.  It was staffed by liaison librarians, academic skills advisors, library advisors, peer advisors.

The approach has 3 levels: extra-, inter- and intra-curricular

  • Generic IL classes
  • IL skills taught in class but separate from course content
  • IL skills taught within context of the course

This approach is supported by the Studywell programme

QUT's Studywell programme

There is also the Study Smart series of tutorials

QUT's Study Smart tutorials

Vicki said that Study Smart was Creative Commons-licensed but the site itself doesn’t state this, unfortunately.  There is also a range of workshops and tours.

In 2010 there was a review of learning support at QUT – main outcomes:

  1. An integrated approach to learning support – acknowledge shared responsibility
  2. Diagnostic evaluation and curriculum integration of learning support resources and activities
  3. Communications strategy – use same words/terminology across divisions

No wrong door‘ approach – all staff are trained to handle a wide variety of questions, and if they have to refer the enquirer to someone else, they must follow through to make sure that the query is resolved.

The internet bus “Netti-Nysse”

Parked outside the building where the conference was held, the Internet Bus “Netti-Nysse” attracted many visitors during a coffee break.

Internet bus Netti-Nysse

Netti-Nysse is a local, Tampere way to say “internet bus”.  The bright yellow bus is familiar to all and frightening to none.

10-seat auditorium inside the bus

The bus has a modern auditorium with 10 seats, and 11 computer workstations.

Workstations at the other end of the bus

The Netti-Nysse is operated by Tampere Public Library and may be booked for groups of people, or individuals can sign up for open classes.  Any group of people who want to learn to use a computer can book the bus, which will then come to visit them in their neighbourhood.

Staff at Netti-Nysse give classes in basic computer use, and education about media and safe use of the internet.

What a great way to take this education to people and present it in a fun, welcoming environment!

Getting information literacy into your organisation’s strategy

From information literacy to informed learning: professional development for a learning organisation

Andrew (Drew) Whitworth, University of Manchester

Drew began his session with an everyday information need: how do we make a decision about where to go on holiday?  We applied the same process to considering how we meaure the effectiveness of an information literacy session.  These strands emerged:

  • Personal/subjective:  feeling
  • Generic/objective: grades, quality/number of citations, whole class/individual, ask the academics, use of a control group?
  • Collective/shared: subsequent interaction with librarians, group reflection among staff on what worked and why

Drew’s perspective is that he is not a librarian, and sees increasing collaboration with academics as a sign of success of such programmes.  Anything relating to promotion or tenure will get the academics’ attention!

Cervero & Wilson (1994) and others investigated how interested parties share decision-making in educational institutions.  What happens around ‘planning tables’?  Where do these tables reside and who can direct the negotiations?  ‘Planning table’ is a metaphor for how decisions are made – could be a formal meeting, informal discussion at work or after work, casual conversation…

Rarely are decisions made for ‘rational’ reasons.  Not analytical e.g. cost benefit analysis, or pedagogically effective.  Rather, we decide on the basis of what feels good, but this doesn’t make a good basis for a funding proposal!

Successes may not be ‘seen’ by other stakeholders of the university if their criteria of success are different from ours.  See also Drew’s paper, Invisible Success (2012).

Could this be an active application of the GCSE English task about writing for a specific audience and purpose?

In his essay Homo academicus, Bourdieu carries out a sociological study of universities (here is a commentary).  If information literacy advocates lack capital within the organisation, how can this be built up?

Drew asked whose institutions mentioned information literacy within their strategies.  Was this the result of the actions of an individual agitator?  Not many raised their hands, but such agitation only needs one person!

We can either develop ourselves professionally, or it will be done to us.

Need understanding of information literacy as:

  • Collective practice and shared responsibility- us, students, academics, management
  • A pedagogy
  • A political activity
  • An instrumental artefact [that is, something which helps the organisation to meet its goals such as good PISA scores]

Who is setting the criteria of success?

Partners in research and learning: library staff and PhD students

Eystein Gullbekk & Tove Rullestad

Research support is a hot topic!  Challenging contextual factors include:

  • Funding regimes and international cooperation
  • Multidisciplinarity – areas rather than disciplines
  • From print to digital publications
  • Reduced gap between formal and informal scholarly communication
  • Competencies

Information management for knowledge creation

This is a research project running from 2010-2013.  It involves a literature review and qualitative research carried out in separate focus group interviews with doctoral students and supervisors.

Selected findings

  • Need for efficiency: self-sufficiency, time management, use of info resources
  • Perception of their own skills: high self confidence related to finding resources, but insecurity related to gaining overview, and complexity of databases
  • Libraries and librarians operate according to a ‘deficit model’ – assume students are info illiterate and have no background/prior knowledge
  • Publishing: pressure varies by discipline, random supervision

Reported criteria for successful supervision

  • Integration of information literacy with other research skills
  • Make visible the complexity involved in info searches
  • Address multidisciplinarity
  • Tailored services
  • Strengthen knowledge about the research process

Changing roles for libraries and librarians

From action to interaction

Changing roles

Doctoral students are sophisticated information-seekers and users of complex information sources – see JISC’s 2012 report Researchers of Tomorrow.