In this guest blog, Marc Forster, editor of recent Facet book, Information Literacy in the Workplace, explores how information is experienced in the workplace and the ethical implications for ensuring that students are equipped with the right skills to ensure they are information literate when they enter the workforce.
Isn’t information literacy in the workplace just ‘information literacy’?
Information literacy (IL) has been defined (and redefined) and widely written about; why bother to draw attention to how it’s experienced in a ‘workplace’ setting? The answer comes (as it should) from research which has made it clear that we can’t be confident that existing assumptions, definitions of IL and methods of development continue to be relevant and appropriate for the workplace, surely one of the largest and most important contexts in which information is used. IL doesn’t appear to be quite the same phenomenon in the workplace as the more familiar version developed in, and for, the academic world. Young professionals, confronted by a way of dealing with information quite different to the academic, find themselves having to think about their relations to information in new ways: in terms of meaning, value, and purpose. How can librarians, LIS academics and researchers address this problem?
Thinking about information literacy in the workplace
Do we know in what way information experiences in the workplace are significant to professionals themselves, their employers and educators and society at large? Indeed, what is the ‘workplace’ in an increasingly virtual information world? Thinking about, and understanding workplace IL should be a task for librarians and LIS academics, and it is. Our book Information literacy in the Workplace presents some of that thinking, much of it based on research into how individuals, teams and organizations use information to achieve their objectives. Research which has required and developed new approaches in order to investigate the work environment.
We describe, from new perspectives, several aspects of IL’s nature and role in the contemporary information driven workplace, and how academics, librarians and researchers can understand and develop it. Our authors engage in a range of contexts, including IL’s role in assuring competent practice, its value to employers as a return on investment, its translocational nature; and its function as an ethical safeguard in the duty and responsibilities professionals have to clients, students and employers.
Information literacy experience
Several of us have made use of the research methodology phenomenography to find just how individuals experience IL in the workplace. How can library professionals know how, when and why information is used in the workplace? Such knowledge, potentially acquirable through this kind of research, shows librarians how they can more profoundly engage with workplace professionals and their needs and ambitions. Using research evidence from a phenomenographic study of information ‘experiences’, they can more precisely focus their information resource provision; potentially achieving both a superior service and a more cost-efficient one. There is also the possibility of more effective programmes of IL education, tailored as they could be to the information culture of the organisation and the actual range and focus of the information experiences of workers. The continuing call for evidence-based practice in the library and information professions finds an echo in our book.
Workplace information literacy is collaborative
One of the key aspects of workplace IL which comes strongly to the fore is its co-operative and team-based nature; IL in the real world is often a joint venture. Employees often work in teams and always as part of larger organizations and companies. Information use is often, even if on individual initiative, a means of contributing to the knowledge development, and so capacity to act effectively, of a wider group. In several contexts and chapters we give details of this ‘social’ IL and how it seems to function as the backbone of organizational operations. In fact one of the chapters of our book describes how IL can be made the fundamental basis of a creative and effective organization through its role in ‘Informed Learning’.
Information literacy or death?
IL isn’t just a tool for learning or empowerment but a means through which one can save lives.
Some professions must be aware of and locate, correctly interpret and apply research evidence, research-based professional guidelines and other more local and personal sources of information, in the varying ways that contribute to that fully informed practice that has the best chance of achieving successful outcomes for the patient or client. To be unable to do this invites failure of competence and care. Not to have the necessary information skills is a professional but also ethical failure as information illiteracy means that the most up to date research evidence or other relevant information may not be identified and applied. Without the correct information or best research evidence, inappropriate or out of date practice may be the result; practice which risks the health, social, legal or financial wellbeing, or even life, of the patient or client.
This new way of looking at IL, discussed in chapter 7 of our book, is one which implies that IL in some professions is absolutely essential to professional, even personal, development. Professional education’s awareness of this remains patchy, but this new understanding of IL’s role promises a means of raising its profile.
Developing information literacy in the workplace
How can IL be developed in this key environment; one which is so important to the financial, medical and personal wellbeing of our fellow citizens? If IL in the workplace isn’t identical to its manifestation in the academic sphere then simply teaching database searching and essay/dissertation based methods of using information might well be found to be irrelevant and wrongheaded. Managing the transition to the workplace must involve a recasting of pedagogical practices to better accommodate the transition to work. There is the additional problem of making the world of work aware of the value of IL. We describe in detail how the development of IL amongst a workforce might be facilitated through applying strategies that bring IL to greater prominence in corporate thinking and through promoting a better understanding of the social/contextual dimensions of information use. We look at how academics can address the needs of students who will soon be using information in the professional workplace; and how new methods for formulating evidence-based IL educational interventions and monitoring educational progress can be developed from research data.
The workplace remains a ‘new frontier’ for those who research and think about IL. Our book is a contribution to the ongoing process of research, theory-building and professional understanding. In the modern world of expanding information-based professions, information overload and false news, such work is as important in both the narrowly practical, and the broadest human context, as ever.
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This guest post from Jane Secker and Chris Morrison originally appeared on the CILIP blog last year to coincide with the publication of the second edition of Copyright and E-learning: a guide for practitioners.
We are re-publishing the blog now in the lead up to the CILIP Copyright Conference on Friday 7th April at which both Jane and Chris are speaking.
About the book
The book covers copyright law and its relationship to e-learning or online learning. It is designed to be read by practitioners and so it tries to offer pragmatic advice on a range of topics issues from digitising orphan works, to lecture recordings, the use of social media and MOOCs. We tried to write the book in a jargon-free easily digestible way, to hopefully make it a practical guide for learning technologists, but also teachers, lecturers and other learning support staff in higher education, schools, further education and even in a workplace learning setting, where online learning is used extensively.
Six tips for practitioners
We’ve taken six key ideas from the book’s conclusion, which we feel are really important to helping you approach any copyright issue:
1. Everything is about risk
Realize that everything is about risk and there are ways of mitigating the risk. For example, devising helpful and timely education and training programmes, but also having institutional policies such as notice and takedown policies on the VLE or any online platform where content can be shared. You will need to decide how comfortable you (and your institution) are towards risk if you decide to rely on copyright exceptions, or are not sure whether a licence covers what you wish to do.
2. Break down any copyright query into its constituent parts
Break down any copyright query into its constituent parts – what type of copyright works does it concern, how will they be used, are there any licences that might apply and finally could a copyright exception come into play? This inevitably requires developing your own technical knowledge to tackle these queries and we’ve provided numerous examples of further resources and training that might help you in the book.
3. Use empathy
Use empathy – in any given situation understanding what someone is actually trying to do when they approach you with a copyright query is helpful. However empathy is important from both sides so try to get the person to think about what the creators and rights holders of a work had in mind too. Ideally this will help you put your copyright support work in context and frame it as a collaborative enterprise.
4. Understand that there is lots of great ‘stuff’ available for free
Understand that there is lots of great ‘stuff’ available for free or under liberal licence terms, such as Creative Commons. Many people are happy to share their work with you provided they are credited, particularly when it’s for educational use, but recognize that there are often good reasons why some content costs money or is not available to you.
5. Recognize that good manners go a long way
Recognize that good manners go a long way – asking nicely, giving credit and building creative networks are a fundamental component of education and research. Over time you can build up your network of contacts, and often knowing the right person to ask will give you access to a wider network of resources which can be used at little or no cost.
6. Remember, you are not alone
Remember, you are not alone. It’s easy, particularly if you are faced with a tricky copyright situation to feel you are expected to know all the answers and this clearly isn’t going to be possible and no one is an island. So build up your support network, both within your organization and externally, and get to know a few copyright experts who can help you out when you get stuck!
Find out more
If you’d like to find out more about the book you can visit our website where we have made the list of further resources available. You can also find out about some of the copyright education initiatives we’d been involved in recently. If you are interested in hearing more about some of the challenges related to copyright and e-learning, you may also wish to listen to the recent podcast we recorded with James Clay. We also plan to make the sixth chapter from the book, on copyright education, available on open access.
About the authors
Since the book was published in June 2016 Jane and Chris have been busy. Jane started a new job at City, University of London after Easter as Senior Lecturer in Educational Development and Chris is completing his Postgraduate diploma in Copyright Law at Kings College London. Jane and Chris are presenting at the CILIP Copyright Conference, Jane is keynoting at CILIP Wales in May 2017 and both Jane and Chris are keynoting at CILIP Scotland conference in June in Dundee. They will be speaking about their research into librarians experiences of copyright in their professional lives.
Work is also continuing apace to develop educational games for copyright education. Copyright the Card Game is being adapted for US law and a prototype of the game has been produced by Paul Bond a librarian at University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown campus. There is also work being undertaken to develop an Irish and Canadian version of the game. Chris and Jane are also demonstrating a prototype of their new game, The Publishing Trap, at LILAC 2017 on 10-12 April in Swansea. This game was the runner-up in the Lagadothon games competition and is aimed at early career researchers to help them understand the choices they make about scholarly communication and sharing their research.
What are the main copyright challenges you face? Let us know in the comments
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A sample chapter from Information Literacy in the Workplace is available to view and download from the Facet Publishing website.
The chapter, Learning within for beyond: exploring a workplace information literacy design, written by Annemaree Lloyd, discusses:
- how the intensification of work and creation of new ways of working can present librarians with challenges in terms of creating information literacy education that provides scaffolding for students’ transitions into professional or vocational practice.
- how by addressing this need, librarians must balance students’ transitions at both ends of the process – into higher education or vocational settings, and then into the workplace. This complexity requires a recasting of pedagogical practices to accommodate changes in the nature of work. With this in mind, common themes drawn from practice-based research are used to construct a conceptualization of workplace information literacy instruction.
Information Literacy in the Workplace, edited by Marc Forster, explains how information literacy is essential to the contemporary workplace and is fundamental to competent, ethical and evidence-based practice.
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Facet Publishing have announced the publication of Teaching Information Literacy Reframed: 50+ framework-based exercises for creating information-literate learners by Joanna M Burkhardt.
This book offers a starting point to understanding and applying teaching practices to the six threshold concepts listed in the Association for College and Research Libraries’ (ACRL) Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, an altogether new way of looking at information literacy.
Bestselling author and expert instructional librarian Burkhardt decodes the Framework, putting its conceptual approach into straightforward language and offering more than 50 classroom-ready Framework-based exercises.
Each chapter focuses on one of the six concepts and offers sample exercises that can be applied in single lecture periods or over semester-long courses. The book offers best practices in creating learning outcomes, assessments, and teaching tricks and tips. Finally, it offers perspectives on how learning, memory, and transfer of learning applies to the teaching of information literacy.
This book will assist librarians in teaching information literacy and enable their students to cross the threshold and become information literacy experts.
Guest post by Jane Secker
The second edition of the 2010 book Copyright and E-learning: A guide for practitioners is now available. The book covers the topic that has fascinated me for over a decade and been central to the job I do at LSE: copyright law and its relationship to e-learning or online learning.
This edition of the book benefits from being co-authored by Chris Morrison, who is Copyright Compliance and Licensing Officer at the University of Kent. Chris has not only helped me to improve and update the book, but made the research and writing process more enjoyable. When I first approached Chris to help update the book, I thought that his
unbounded pedantry forensic attention to detail and wealth of knowledge about broader copyright issues might make him a useful proof-reader. I had done a first run through of the book to identify some key areas I wanted to update in light of the Hargreaves Review in 2014 and the new copyright exceptions in UK law. However, overall I felt much of the first edition might remain the same, perhaps with a few changes to take into account new terminology. It quickly became apparent once we started reviewing the content and discussing the book, that we had the opportunity to significantly update it, and make it a far better book. It was also clear I had more than a proof-reader but a co-author. As with any book about technology, 5 years is a long time, and technological developments made much of the contents of some chapters in need of real updating. For example, the term web 2.0 used throughout the first edition, really started to sound very dated.
Much of the intentions behind the first edition remain however. The book is designed to be read by practitioners and so it tries to offer pragmatic advice on a range of topics issues from digitising orphan works, to lecture recordings, the use of social media and MOOCs. We tried to write the book in a jargon-free easily digestible way, to hopefully make it a practical guide for learning technologists, but also teachers, lecturers and other learning support staff in higher education, schools, further education and even in a workplace learning setting, where online learning is used extensively.
Find out more about the book here or read Jane and Chris’ post on the CILIP blog where they provide six practical tips that are important to helping you approach any copyright issue.
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This new book explores critical literacy theory and provides practical guidance to how it can be taught and applied in libraries.
The approach taken in critical literacy is not to read texts in isolation, but to develop an understanding of the cultural, ideological and sociolinguistic contexts in which they are created and read.
The book introduces critical literacy concepts in ways that are accessible to readers who are new to the subject while also appealing to those with greater knowledge by exploring critical literacy from a range of theoretical perspectives and linking these ideas to current debates in information studies.
Critical Literacy for Information Professionals also contains a series of practically-focussed case studies that describe tools or approaches that librarians have used to engage users in critical literacy. Drawing on examples from across library sectors including schools, public libraries, universities, workplaces and healthcare, these illustrate how critical literacy can be applied across a variety of library settings, including online and new media environments.
The book will be essential reading for librarians, information professionals and managers in all sectors, students of library and information science, school and higher education teachers and researchers.
The excellent Librarian’s Information Literacy Conference (LILAC) kicks off today in Dublin. We thought that we would share with you some of our content that fits in with the themes of the conference, whether you are attending or not.
Here, you will find 6 free chapters from Facet books on information literacy, research support and the information behaviour, some of which are written by speakers at the conference.