Reflections on the DELILA workshop

This is a guest post by Ian McCracken, Information Consultation who worked in Govan High School, Glasgow for many years first as school librarian, then more widely in skills development, making connections between information literacy and wider skills development. Ian is currently a member of the YSL Information Literacy Task Force. He attended the DELILA workshop on 26th July and kindly wrote up a short report on the day.

DELILA Workshop: 26th July 2011, Senate House, University of London

Ruth Stubbings started off by noting how important it is for us to develop our own skills in order to foster skills in others- a very useful reminder and connection to make. Also, that sharing good practice and making the most effective use of people’s expertise were both very valid in themselves – and the IL Group was keen to support. Ruth finished by pointing out that events such as DELILA can give rise to a “eureka moment”; again I thought that this comment would encourage the 60 or so people there to be attuned to looking for connections.

Jane Secker (LSE) – “Why, why, why DELILA”

Jane’s project was open sharing of information Literacy (IL) and Digital literacy (DL) teaching materials. Starting points had been the CILIP IL Statement & the SCONUL 7 Pillars.

She & her team had been working to convert “normal” IL/DL material into “open” material. Jane said this was time-consuming if proper standards were used (and useless if they weren’t!), and that copyright issues could be a problem  She noted that included within the project were worked examples with timings, lesson plans etc (good idea). A “gap analysis” to see if anything was “missing” had also been done (even better idea)

Jane also talked about some of the issues: e g -whether IL/DL issues were too institutionally specific (I wondered if they’d have “street cred” if used elsewhere) ; another issue was whether materials could be kept up to date to match changing issues/needs.

An important point was that while DL/IL underpin much teaching / lecturing, it was very infrequently explicit (It’s the same story in schools!)

Jane Hughes (UCL) –CPD4HE

Jane explained how the CPD4HE project had been trying to address issues of DL within academic disciplines. They wanted to improve the learning of a discipline and the process of learning itself. They used VLEs, shared notepads, virtual online learning options, “moodle”. Text & commentary had been included to help users to see that methods used in one discipline were similar, if not identical to those used elsewhere –I thought it was good that they were doing this, but frustrating that they were having to do it!

Ella Mitchell & Cathy Walsh (University of East London)- Introduction to Infoskills

Ella & Cathy explained that a lot of their material had been underused so had decided to pull it all together within the “Get that job” section of the UEL website-not only making it more visible but very much suiting the needs of students on a 24/7 basis. Ella & Cathy described the resource as “Level 1” learning. The resource has been very successful for the target group, and also for pre-entry and international students and addressed the “expectations gap” for academic staff. This to me suggests that perhaps the skills are not really level 1, or that academic staff are not aware of skills levels inherent within assignments they are setting!

 Ella & Cathy showed the audience the different aspects of the skills package. They also described the package as “text light” though the contents look very useful & user-friendly.

Ella & Cathy noted that another group was now looking at broader skills but did not go into details. I’m keen to find out more about this!

Elizabeth Cleaver (UoB/Newman College) & Claire Gordon (LSE)- OERS: A PG Cert  Perspective.

Elizabeth & Claire had concluded that it was a “no brainer” that IL should be included in the PG Cert course, which was for 100 students, and up until Elizabeth and Claire’s work had included no IL element.

They’d experienced the dilemma of bolt on versus build in (a common issue!) They’d decided to embed but try not to bury. They had done this by focussing on specific underlying themes within specific contexts, with the themes often being underlined for clarity – highlighting the skills in other words

Elizabeth & Claire also talked about some of the issues in integrating their work –lack of time in course calendar, receptiveness of academic staff (probably also understanding of academic staff!) being the main ones.

Panel discussion

The panel discussion at the end of the day focussed on “how feasible is it to share IL/DL resources” (what resources can be shared) and “Should IL/DL be embedded into teaching qualifications?

Most time was spent on the first question, with a show of hands being called for regarding generic or specific materials. I raised the question of means of sharing – I thought online fora could be very valuable for some types of sharing; events such as DELIA could be most useful for others and so on. DELILA was well worth coming down from Scotland for –it was good to see so many links being made between IL/DL work and the wider academic world.

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