Information Literacy Events

I just realised I hadn’t written about the information literacy events that have been taking place organised by the Fforwm Learning Resource Managers’ Network in association with RSC Wales. They have been free to participants thanks to funding from CyMAL under the CyMAL Reader Development Grant Programme 2007-2008.

The first two have been very successful, and were on the theme of ‘Skills for Success’, aimed at staff delivering information literacy training. The third takes place this Thursday 24th January (!), and will be taking things to the next level with ‘Strategies for Success’. I will mention each event in more detail below.

I should add that I have received copies of most of the presentations given (with permission to distribute upon request) as a further means to disseminate the information from the events.

North Wales ‘Skills for Success’ event, Deeside College, Wed 28 November 2007

The two ‘information literacy skills for success’ events (one in North Wales and one in South Wales) were aimed at staff who are involved on the front line, planning and running information literacy and induction sessions for learners. We intended to focus on some practical tools and skills to improve the success of these sessions, with a particular focus on ‘hard to reach’ learners; also to offer participants the chance to update their knowledge of some new developments.

Lis Parcell and myself introduced the day, using a variant of the Cephalonian method to get the announcements out of the way. This led to useful discussion of the Cephalonian method as a form of induction. Combining the participant feedback from both events, it was felt that the possible downsides were:

  • Staff reluctance to use the method – but won over eventually? [Tip - it helps to pair up with another librarian the first few times.]
  • Student reticence – shy students, or they feel the method is patronising?
  • Potential technology failures
  • Problems with SEN students?

However the possible benefits of the method were:

  • Engages students – unexpected, mulitmedia, drama!!
  • Students remember more?!
  • Encourages questions + interest
  • Broke down barriers (between staff and students) – informal
  • Cues to all information (helps the presenter)
  • Fresh for the presenter – staff enjoyment!
  • Tip – base the questions on the most common questions asked at LRC desks

We then showed a video about the learner’s voice and experiences – which is the thing information literacy is aimed at in the final analysis.

Priscilla Dawson, LRC Manager from Swansea College, then talked about critical success factors for information literacy, and ran a workshop where we tried to identify what some of those critical success factors might be – they may be different for each institution, at different times, with different students and so on.

Patrick Cox is the LRC Manager at Deeside College, who had kindly offered to host the event. He then gave a case study of what Deeside had been doing in terms of information literacy and induction. The LRC at Deeside College – The Learning Zone – is central to the college physically, and also now has a strong virtual presence in the college virtual learning environment (Moodle). The rotating panorama of the Learning Zone for students was particularly impressive! It was also an eye-opener that since revising the whole induction process and incorporating the VLE into it LRC staff now look forward to inductions in September!

Anthony Beal then gave a talk about the experience from West Cheshire Colleges, so that we could share experience across borders. Anthony’s talk led to lots of people scribbling down tips and links that could be useful later.

Anthony Beal distilling what information literacy is about

[slideshare id=194512&doc=information-literacy-good-practice-at-west-cheshire-college-1196965813746221-3&w=425]

Lisa Charnock then gave an overview of the Virtual Training Suite, Intute, and new features such as Informs. I had accidentally used the acronym ‘RDN’ (the old name for Intute), and she was very gracious in correcting my mistake! The day ended with a hands-on session using Intute; I used the time to improve my interactive whiteboard skills.

As an aside, I have used four different interactive whiteboards recently – a Mimeo; the short-throw system at Swansea; the Hitachi system at Deeside; and the system at Aberystwyth University. They are all fun, and I like the idea of getting fit by flailing your arms to check your email, but unfortunately they are too expensive for my living room (I did seriously look into it…)

Me doing an information literacy equation, it is very advanced stuff…

South Wales ‘Skills for Success’ event, Swansea College, Friday 14 December 2007

Much of the programme for this event, generously hosted by Swansea College, was similar to the event in North Wales – so that everyone had the chance to participate. Therefore there was an introduction by myself and Lis, then a session on critical success factors for information literacy run by Priscilla Dawson. The case studies and speakers for the rest of the day were different though.

Helen Hodges from Coleg Gwent gave a case study of what the learning centre has been doing with its presence in the college VLE, and how it tied in with information literacy training.

The West Cheshire College case study was this time given by Leo Appleton, and included a game of buzz-word bingo. Leo coped very stoically with an operating system blip during the talk – it is good to have speakers at an event who are more reliable than Microsoft Windows!

Leo talking about the West Cheshire College programme

After lunch the session on the Virtual Training Suite, Intute and Informs was this time given by Emma Place, and I avoided saying RDN at any point. She led most people for the hands on session; at the same time there was an optional look at accessibility equipment, which reminded me of a present-giving by extra-terrestrials, as we opened various boxes then tried to work out what the item did and what the various brightly-coloured buttons were for (the TechDIS site helped us there).

‘Information literacy: strategies for success’ event, University of Wales Newport, Caerleon Campus, Thursday 24 January 2008

This event takes place in two days’ time. It is aimed at FE Learning Resource Service managers and others interested in strategic approaches to the development of information literacy, and should help participants develop a strategic approach to information literacy and increase its impact in their organisation.

One definition of information literacy is “knowing when and why you need information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner”. Information literacy skills are something which all learners and staff need, at a level appropriate for their studies and for their work.

The emphasis will be on developing strategies to engage with hard-to-reach audiences, and the focus is very much on the starting point of the learner.

The programme for the day is expected to include:

- Models of information literacy
- Linking to the curriculum
- Impact and evaluation
- Strategic issues
- What has worked for you?

The event will also be an opportunity for staff to exchange news of information literacy developments in their organisation, and thus further build capacity across Wales.

We are delighted to welcome as the trainer Sharon Markless, of the Institute for Learning and Teaching, King’s College London.

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