I’m speaking today at the CILIP Conference 2015 about workplace information literacy and will be chairing the Information Literacy strand at the conference for the next two days, so I’m looking forward to hearing about what colleagues have to say about all things IL.
This talk aims to provide an overview of thinking and practice in workplace information literacy, an important developing area. It will consider the semantic gap between education and workplace settings and identify key issues around the challenges to library and information professionals in bridging that gap.
My slides are here (mostly pictures, I’m afraid) Inskip: workplace information literacy – CILIP Conference 2015 but you may find some of the embedded links useful.
The kind folks at LILAC 2015 have uploaded the slides from the conference to their slideshare account (http://www.lilacconference.com/WP/past-conferences/lilac-2015). Here are the slides to the workshop on ‘Making IL relevant in employment settings’ (http://www.slideshare.net/infolit_group/goldstein-inskip-seckerwalton) which was co-presented by Stéphane Goldstein, Charlie Inskip, Jane Secker & Geoff Walton and this link should take you to the slides on my current work looking at ‘What is workplace information literacy? A comparison of views from the chalkface and the workplace’ (http://www.slideshare.net/infolit_group/inskip-lilacslidesto-be-revised). Do contact me if you have any questions or comments.
I’ll be involved in 2 presentations this week at the LILAC 2015 conference in sunny Newcastle:
FRIDAY MORNING: What is workplace information literacy? A comparison of views from the chalkface and the workplace
Charles Inskip, University College London, firstname.lastname@example.org
This presentation discusses a mapping of information literacy (IL) concepts drawn from the library and information professional literature (CILIP, 2014; SCONUL, 2011) to graduate employability profiles drawn from higher education (QAA, 2014; Rees et al, 2006) and careers services (NCS, 2012; Prospects, 2014) in terms of their reference to information/digital literacies. The purpose of the mapping is to identify patterns of description in the UK around information literacies and further enable comparisons between professions and careers in terms of their IL needs. The CILIP (2014) and SCONUL (2011) frameworks are widely used in higher education by library and information professionals to develop and deliver information literacy interventions. The employability profiles and benchmark statements are widely used, alongside professional accreditation criteria and other frameworks, in good practice education to inform curriculum development.
The careers services job profiles are designed to assist job seekers identify suitable jobs and careers. There is a perceived lack of uptake of the IL concept by employers, which is arguably exacerbated by a semantic gap between the higher education views of IL and those within the workplace. The analysis explores this gap between stakeholder views, comparing them to definitions of workplace information literacy drawn from the academic literature. The discussion of the analysis identifies key areas where library and information professionals may contribute to better communication between these stakeholders, thus enabling a more positive transition for those moving into the workplace.
CILIP (2014) Professional knowledge and skills base. Available online at http://www.cilip.org.uk/cilip/jobs-and-careers/professional-knowledge-and-skills-base accessed 31 Dec 2014.
NCS (2012) Job profiles. Available online at https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/advice/planning/jobfamily/Pages/default.aspx accessed 31 Dec 2014.
Prospects (2014) Types of jobs. Available online at http://www.prospects.ac.uk/types_of_jobs.htm accessed 31 Dec 2014.
QAA (2014) The UK Quality Code for Higher Education: subject benchmark statements. Available online at http://www.qaa.ac.uk/assuring-standards-and-quality/the-quality-code/subject-benchmark-statements accessed 31 Dec 2014.
Rees, C., Forbes, P. & Kubler, B. (2006) Student employability profiles: a guide for higher education practitioners. Available online at https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/sites/default/files/student_employability_profiles_apr07.pdf.
SCONUL (2011) The SCONUL seven pillars of information literacy: core model for Higher Education. Available online at http://www.sconul.ac.uk/sites/default/files/documents/coremodel.pdf accessed 31 Dec 2014.
THURSDAY AFTERNOON: Making IL relevant in employment settings
Stéphane Goldstein, Research Information Network, email@example.com
Charlie Inskip, University College London, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jane Secker, London School of Economics and Political Science, J.Secker@lse.ac.uk
Geoff Walton, Northumbria University, email@example.com
There is a growing body of scholarly literature on the place of information use and handling in employment settings. But rarely is this explicitly recognised by employers as information literacy (IL), and there is correspondingly little evidence on the impact of IL on the workplace. This timely symposium seeks to examine how IL – however it is expressed or defined – is perceived and understood by industry and businesses. It will contribute to the debate about the merits of persuading organisations with an interest in employment and employability to recognise the competences and know-how associated with IL as an important factor in their skills and professional development agendas, and how best to do this.
During 2014, a report was issued  which examines the relevance of IL as a transferable attribute for individuals as they move from higher education to professional employment. This presented and analysed views from key stakeholders at the interface between higher education and employment: careers services, professional and accreditation bodies, employers and representative or specialist bodies relating to employment and skills. The report was complemented by an annotated bibliography  that addressed a set of related questions: (i) how should IL be described within workplace settings; (ii) what are the priority/key information skills and abilities related to the effective use of information in the workplace; and (iii) whether there is any evidence of the value and/or impact of IL in the workplace.
This work will help to progress the dialogue between organisations at the interface between higher education and employment, and to consider how they might:
- benefit from a further exploration of the relevance of IL to their policies and practices;
- better understand and recognise how IL relates to the particular context and requirements of different professional settings, and how it might contribute to career progression;
- consider how the professional development infrastructure might be better aligned with IL;
- reflect on what role information professionals might play to help to foster this dialogue.
The symposium provides an opportunity to reflect on possible outcomes of this ongoing work. It will consider the following questions:
- What are the merits and usefulness of progressing a dialogue with stakeholders at the interface between higher education and employment?
- How might the concept of IL in the workplace be explained in a language that relates to the needs and priorities of these stakeholders?
- What might be done (strategies, approaches…) to generate interest among these stakeholders in the relevance and application of IL to employment contexts; and what are the barriers to doing so?
- What role can be played by the CILIP Information Literacy Group, InformAll and other interested parties in moving this agenda forward?
The symposium has a practical purpose, in contributing to define ways in which interest in IL might be developed in sectors, beyond the library world, where it has not been readily recognised as a defined set of attributes. Delegates should come with ideas and questions and be willing to participate in a lively debate about the way forward. The session will consist of a 10-minute introduction from the panel of presenters. Delegates will then be invited to cluster in small groups in the meeting room to consider the above questions question for up to 5 minutes each, and on that basis, to present views for discussion to the entire audience. The panel of presenters will be at hand to facilitate the discussion and to record emerging ideas and conclusions.
Goldstein, S., (2014) Transferring information know-how: Information literacy at the interface between higher education and employment. InformAll – http://www.researchinfonet.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Report-on-transferability-of-IL-beyond-academia-FINAL.pdf
Williams, D., Cooper, K and Wavell, C. (2014) Information Literacy in the Workplace: an annotated bibliography. Robert Gordon University Institute for Management, Governance & Society (IMaGeS) in association with InformAll – http://www.researchinfonet.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Workplace-IL-annotated-bibliography.pdf
Things have moved on since I originally posted the shortlist of the evaluated resources, and hyperlinks have changed. I have updated the links (09 Oct 2014), below:
- Cardiff University, Embedded information literacy: Postgraduate students, integration of information and digital literacies into the University Graduate College skills development programme
- Cranfield University, Online information literacy tutorial: Undergraduate / postgraduate students, highly interactive online tutorials on a wide range of IL issues; attractively and imaginatively packaged.
- Glasgow Caledonian University, PG IL module (‘Pilot’): Postdoc researchers, online tutorials on wide range of IL issues (developed for postdocs, but also suitable for graduate students).
- Loughborough University, eMRSG: East Midlands Research Support Group: early career researchers, online interactive tutorials on disseminating research outputs and reference management. Resource developed jointly by four East Midlands HEIs.
- LSE, MY592: Postgraduate students, structured 6-week course on many aspects of IL
- Open University, Ready to research: Postgraduate students, a set of online tutorials, structured within a broad range of IL topics.
- Oxford University, Research Skills Toolkit: Postgraduate students, a set of interactive online resources
- University of Bath, Information Skills for Research Postgraduates: Postgraduate students, extensive programme of courses throughout the academic year, mostly on literature searching, but also on copyright, plagiarism, use of databases. Some discipline-specific resources.
- University of Birmingham, Raising your research profile, Workshops on publishing, bibliometrics and social media.
- University of Durham, Training Resources 1213: Postgraduate students, range of IL courses
- University of Edinburgh, Research Data MANTRA course: Postgraduate students, online tutorials on all aspects of research data management.
- University of Manchester, Media & Information resource: Postgraduate students, researchers, podcast-based online resource covering wide range of IL issues.
- University of Nottingham, Effective Literature Searching: Postgraduate students (early stage), 5-day course on literature searching
- University of Salford, Salford Postgraduate Research Training (SPoRT): Postgraduate researchers, wide-ranging programme of workshops reflecting the structure of the RDF; selected sessions available on aspects of IL.
- University of Warwick, Digital Researcher: Early career researchers, module-based, 18-week online learning programme on social media in the research lifecycle.
As a member of the CILIP Information Literacy Policy Board I have been working recently on a blog and literature review of texts relating to information literacy in the workplace. This will be published by CILIP on their website, available to all for download, on Monday 16th June via this link: [ http://www.cilip.org.uk/information-literacy-is-for-life ].
The text of the blog follows:
Information literacy is for life, not just for a good degree.
Arguably, librarians and information professionals have been involved in developing the information skills and competences of their users since the beginning of libraries. Until recently this was known as bibliographic instruction (to insiders) and library skills (to everyone else). Now we call this type of intervention information literacy, and have expanded our definition to include various aspects of research such as critical evaluation, data managing and presentation of findings. Everyone else now just calls this digital skills. The concept and practice of information literacy has been widely discussed in library and information professional literature in recent years. In the main, these discussions have focussed on practice in Higher Education (HE), specifically on how librarians may be involved in developing the skills of students to enable them to maximise the use of academic resources, predominantly library-based, in order to meet the requirements of learning outcomes of their courses.
More recently this focus has widened to examine transition from school and Further Education (FE) into University, recognizing universities’ increasingly high expectations of new undergraduates information literacies. This widening of focus is also starting to bring workplace information literacy under the spotlight. It’s an exciting time for this area of research, as theory and practice can be seen to start to reflect the Alexandria Proclamation assertion that “Information Literacy lies at the core of lifelong learning. It empowers people in all walks of life to seek, evaluate, use and create information effectively to achieve their personal, social, occupational and educational goals.”
Over the last few months I’ve been drawing together literature relating to this topic in order to provide a view of this particular information landscape. I’ve found academic theoretical and practice-based research and official reports from stakeholders including government, professional associations and industry and commerce and drawn them together in order to provide an overview of the main issues around workplace information literacy.
Employability and Transition
Despite the very term ‘information literacy’ originating in 1974 in a text relating to the workplace it is only in recent years that attempts have been made to extend the lifelong learning element of this literacy from Higher Education to the workplace. This is a difficult transition. What were initially thought of as being generic skills and competences do not successfully transition from education to the workplace, and do not sufficiently enhance job seekers’ employability. Research into auditors, businesses and law firms indicates the information literacies taught in school, FE and HE do not always meet the expectations of employers and the requirements of the workplace setting. The research suggests that the key differences in the workplace such as a need to look through physical documents, for example (as opposed to electronic databases), and the accepted practice of seeking advice from networks of colleagues (as opposed to solitary research practice in the university) should be addressed more explicitly in preparing students for the workforce.
Interestingly, differences are sometimes perceived rather than real, being caused by different terminology – environmental scanning or current awareness, for example. Once this semantic gap has been successfully bridged, it is much easier to get employer buy-in to the process. If we are to bridge that gap then we need to know about the context in which the workplace information practices take place. And the best way to do this is to do research in the real world, using theoretical models drawn from, for example, the already extensive work by library theorists on user information needs and behaviour. The complexity of the workplace cannot be successfully addressed by a one-size-fits-all information literacy programme, the approach needs to be sensitive to the context – and to the sociocultural practices of the communities that are a part of that context.
Evidence based practice should be used to develop this area. The UK National Health Service (NHS), in the drive for reduced administrative costs and better practice, have made important inroads by embedding information literacy into the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of the workforce. Australian research into the practices of firefighters and ambulance officers has been extremely influential in development of theory. Research into legal practice in the UK has also been influential, being recognized at professional association and government level. Linking work-based practices to theoretical principles through robust research does have impact.
Factoring the monetary value of days lost through searching the web is a perhaps more headline-busting approach. Using both (robust research, monetisation of lost time and wasted opportunities) in tandem encourages policy makers to pay attention. The current UK initiatives around the digital divide and digital inclusion recognise the value inherent in a lifelong learning approach to information literacy to address problems around employability and the skills of small business owners – usually without referring to it by name. The fact that government is now recognizing a need for the recently launched digital inclusion strategy is an extremely significant opportunity for library and information professionals to continue in their efforts in promoting this area.
Just in case you missed it at the beginning, many thanks to CILIP: “The blog was originally published on the CILIP website: http://www.cilip.org.uk/information-literacy-is-for-life”
For the full literature review please see the CILIP blog link.
ALISS AGM 2014: Developing Digital Literacies for a Digital World slides for my presentation ‘Reflecting on digital competences’ now online here [ALISS AGM 2014 slides] as a pdf. Thanks to everyone for listening and asking such interesting questions. Great stuff on the day from Sally Patalong at Coventry University and Beth Clark and Victoria Bird from SOAS.
I am very pleased to have been given the opportunity to share some findings from my research into academic library staff digital scholarship competences next Wednesday at the ALISS AGM. Tickets still available, folks! :http://alissnet.org.uk/aliss-agm-2014-developing-digital-literacies-for-a-digital-world/
For those unable to attend, slides will be uploaded to this blog after the event.
The title of the talk will be “Reflecting on digital scholarship competences”. It reports on the findings of the survey taken by SCONUL as part of its involvement in the JISC Developing Digital Literacies (DDL) programme.