All posts by khogan

Discussion: A Major Professional Shift, or Comparing the Framework with the Standards

Cindy led our discussion of this week’s RIOT on the new ACRL Framework for Higher Education with a view to an in-depth discussion open to all Libraries staff coming up this January. Our conversation centered around a few themes:

1. What’s the difference between the new ACRL Information Literacy Framework for Higher Education (Framework) and the previous ACRL Information Literacy Standards for Higher Education (2000) (Standards)?

The first clue is in the titles. The Standards offered proscriptive standards for information literacy and specific learning outcomes connected to each standard. This model was similar to education standards models used in some social sciences and STEM disciplines for accreditation.

The new Framework offers instead a series of frames through which to see central concept in information literacy.

2. What do we think about the definition of Information Literacy?

Information literacy is a spectrum of abilities, practices, and habits of mind that extends and deepens learning through engagement with the information ecosystem. It includes:

  • understanding essential concepts about that ecosystem;
  • engaging in creative inquiry and critical reflection to develop questions and to find, evaluate, and manage information through an iterative process;
  • creating new knowledge through ethical participation in communities of learning, scholarship, and civic purpose; and
  • adopting a strategic view of the interests, biases, and assumptions present in the information ecosystem.

The Good:
It’s focusing on critical thinking!
This definition is how we think about information literacy
This seems like what students should be learning in college
This definition makes clear to faculty that we have an expertise: a broad understanding of the information landscape beyond a single specific field.

The Bad:
It could be hard to use this with faculty
The previous definition seemed more concrete: Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to “recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information” (Standards)
One criticism is that we’re trying to make students into “little librarians.”

The Questions:
If we were to take this to an administrator or professor, they would likely think this is what faculty are doing in their classes. How do we divide that labor? (We have specific outcomes akin to previous standards.)

3. Do the frames resonate with us?
The Framework is built around six frames, presented alphabetically:

  • Authority Is Constructed and Contextual
  • Information Creation as a Process
  • Information Has Value
  • Research as Inquiry
  • Scholarship Is a Conversation
  • Searching Is Strategic

Background: These six frames were initially called “threshold concepts” (Cindy referenced Meghan’s post about threshold concepts), and after pushback the Framework now identifies these as our six frames. In the description of each frame, the document describes the differences between how experts and novices understand the concepts of the frame. For example, for “Authority Is Constructed and Contextual,” the Framework describes: “Experts understand the need to determine the validity of the information created by different authorities and to acknowledge biases that privilege some sources of authority over others, especially in terms of others’ worldviews, gender, sexual orientation, and cultural orientations. An understanding of this concept enables novice learners to critically examine all evidence—be it a Wikipedia article or a peer-reviewed conference proceeding—and ask relevant questions about origins, context, and suitability for the current information need.” This seemed helpful to identify the novice and the expert as on the same journey.

Uses: The frames can help us reflect on how many of these pieces we are putting into one class session or whether we are working on a novice or expert level and whether that fits our student group.

Politics: In some fields, the first frame might seem political; in others, straightforward. Are we taking a risk here?

4. How can we apply these frames?

Background: The Framework includes for each frame a set of Knowledge Practices, or specific descriptions of what a learner in this frame can do, and a set of Dispositions, or how learners in this frame might feel motivated or where they might ask questions. We described the Knowledge Practices as the practical steps and the Dispositions as the affective influences.

Uses: The frames seem easier to scaffold across a departmental curriculum; while the Standards had their own learning outcomes and were more static.

The frames open up classrooms to critical thinking; while the Standards’ Learning Outcomes focused on tools, now we can teach critical thinking and learn tools along the way.

In the spring, look for a workshop from TLS on this professional shift – we are already doing this work, and now we get to see how deep it is and think in a different way about what we are doing.

RIOT: It’s Not Just an Event… It’s a Classroom

This is, as usual, a lively month for events at the UT Libraries – I know many of you are organizing events, and PCL events are also part of the vision-in-action of the Learning Commons. This past month I’ve been working (with a lot of great collaborators) on planning for the April 10 National Poetry Month event (yes, that’s a shameless plug!). I wanted to take a look at how we describe/use programming in the library – and, in particular, in collaboration with students – as information literacy education/engagement. And then, of course, how we can raise awareness about this benefit.

I took a look at this article:
Margeaux Johnson, Melissa J. Clapp, Stacey R. Ewing, and Amy Buhler, “Building a Participatory Culture: Collaborating with Student Organizations for Twenty-First Century Library Instruction,” Collaborative Librarianship 3.1 (2011): 2-15.

The authors make a connection with Partnership for Twenty-First Century Skills’ “Framework for 21st-Century Learning” and, in particular, their focus on “collaboration and communication skills” as well as on information literacy (2). While they see lots of literature about librarians’ collaborations, one missing piece is analysis of librarians’ connection with student organizations.

I like the framework of the “participatory culture”: “Twenty-first century learners not only create content, but they also contribute content to their community. This practice of community membership, creation, and collaboration can be seen as building a participatory culture” (5). Libraries, they point out, are testing grounds for new skills for building participatory cultures. While I hardly think this is limited to the 21st century, I do think that we are drawing on student interests and participation in the classroom as well as in our outreach. How are we making explicit connections between the two?

The examples the authors offer from the University of Florida indicate that to them collaboration focuses on getting students into the library. I wanted more discussion of what the negotiation part of the collaboration looks like – more on this after the overview.

Two of the examples are, I think, particularly useful and relevant to our context. The authors describe the first as an example of inviting students to peer-teach information literacy at the library. A student organization focused on understanding and promoting student creation of Open Access materials approached the library to hold an OA week event in their learning commons. The students selected four open-source media creation programs to load onto learning commons computers, then held an open classroom where the students taught other students how to use the programs to create media mash-ups. (In case you’re interested, the four programs were: Gimp for image editing, Blender for 3-D animation, Audacity for sound editing, and Inkscape for vector drawing.)

For each example, the librarians offer learning objectives. For example:
Learners attending the “Mind Mashup” workshop will be able to do the following:
1. Select Creative Commons licensed images, movies, and music to reuse, remix, and construct new creative products.
2. Identify Gimp, Blender, Audacity, and Inkscape as high quality open source software programs available for media creation.
3. Recognize the library Information Commons as a place for high-tech learning and play.
4. Create their own multimedia projects using images, video, and sound clips.  (7)

In other examples the library participated as a Human v. Zombies site and the Student Government partnered with the library for their first year student recruitment event.

The article closes with an inviting framing for these collaborative events: “Developing collaborative experiences with student-led organizations not only increases turnout at events, but also creates opportunities for students to develop twenty-first century skills, practice new media literacies, and attain higher levels of cognitive engagement” (12).

I’m interested in how we do or can think about our events in these terms, and market them as such to update faculty and student ideas about information literacy.

Here are some questions to consider for our discussion:

  • How do we/can we frame ongoing library programming as information literacy education?
  • How do/could you partner with student organizations within your liaison departments?
  • How can we build information literacy education into the collaboration itself? For example, how can we engage students in the ethics of representation (the Humans v. Zombies event relied heavily on “zombie trances in Haiti” (9))?
  • How could/does this event-based collaboration inform our classroom instruction?

Discussion: Talking Research Data Management

At our February 25 RIOT, Robyn started with including us all, reminding us it’s not just the sciences requiring data management: the NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) and the IES (Institute of Education Sciences) require data management, too. (Tellingly, perhaps, the NEH data management plan executive summary is a PDF. The IES offers a detailed data sharing implementation guide.)

In her post, Robyn outlined a dream workshop building graduate students’ information literacy through data management skills. At the session, we worked through how to move towards such workshop.

Start with a small, focused group: One starting point would be to focus the workshop by working with a small group of graduate students in one lab, or starting with one Principal Investigator, or doing a drop-in session at the Pickle campus. Then, move outward to a department or area. Research says data management education gets too expansive in interdisciplinary groups, so it’s best to focus on a small group.

Perspective of scale: Schools doing this well have teams of dedicated data curation librarians. Purdue (linked to in the original post), for example, has money to invest in infrastructure like this. So, we need strategies to make this scalable as we get started.

So what does this look like? From the librarian’s perspective, data curation might start with a website or online modules teaching students how to organize and manage their files, preparing students to think about and create effective metadata so that the data is truly shareable.

Starting where we are: Structurally, we can start by sharing what we have. Let’s let students know about Box and the UTDR. We also have data sets available through subscription to ICPSR (Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research); using this tool, we could build data literacy.

Then build skills: The critical scaffolding for using Box and UTDR effectively includes issues like copyright and the ethics of open data. These conversations open up space to think about how graduating students leave data behind, how well-structured data can increase citation.

Sharing data: This approach could build capacity within UT, since people want free data sets to use with undergraduate classes, particularly with the growth of digital humanities. Building UT awareness of data management frameworks and metadata best practices would allow UT classes to use UT student and faculty data sets, an exciting prospect.

Connected to Learning Commons Initiative: During focus groups for the learning commons, students and faculty said they wanted help using Excel to manage data. This would include both help using Excel and help understanding data analysis (as well as understanding that changing how we analyze the data can change our results).

Next steps:

  • Build data management discussion/awareness into graduate student orientations.
  • Add data management resources to research guides.
  • Curriculum mapping to find out where students are using/creating data.
  • Get started with small, scalable groups.

Our role is in building best practices, connecting researchers with data networks for the future.