Innovative interfaces in Information Literacy

Studying my SLED calendar (which I have embedded in my Google calendar) more closely yesterday I stumbled across a morning (in my time) meeting from Sheila Webber, Information Literacy expert and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Information Studies, University of Sheffield, UK. The meeting was too early for me, but I was intrigued nonetheless.

I have followed Sheila’s Information Literacy Weblog for some years, but made direct contact with her as a result of the publication of Information Literacy meets Library 2.0 to which we were both contributing writers (have you got a copy yet?).

All librarians should keep an eye on Shiela’s blog and the work she is doing. I slipped up myself, so was delighted to catch up on one of her current initiatives The Seven Pillars of Information Literacy. Do pick up The Seven Pillars of Information Literacy model which are available for download and use.

The Seven Pillars model was designed to be a practical working model which would facilitate further development of ideas amongst practitioners in the field and would hopefully stimulate debate about the ideas and about how those ideas might be used by library and other staff in higher education concerned with the development of students’ skills. The model combines ideas about the range of skills involved with both the need to clarify and illustrate the relationship between information skills and IT skills, and the idea of progression in higher education embodied in the development of the curriculum through first-year undergraduate up to postgraduate and research-level scholarship.

I was actually on duty as Docent at ISTE Island, when the sim was shut down in one of the usual Linden Lab restarts. Being on the loose in Second Life I spotted the fact that Sheila was also inworld, and after a quick IM she kindly invited me to take a look at the work they are doing on the Seven Pillars over at Infoli iSchool in Second Life: iSchool/95/38/22/

Can I say, this is really an interesting project to watch!! I was so excited to see the framework growing in a 3D environment, allowing students to ‘walk the walk’ of the information literacy process. This is a model that can work not just in higher education, but in secondary education just as effectively (in teen second life).

As Sheila explained, she had students exploring and applying this information literacy model to their research and information needs during her course, after they had completed another unit which had included Second Life learning. This struck me as ideal!

We do need to look at innovative ways to capture the interest and commitment of our students to understanding the deep thinking involved in the information search process, and as the learning world becomes more and more immersive, these initiatives are an important step in the right direction.

The model not only allows students to ‘walk through’ the stages of the information process, but it also includes powerful investigation of both quantitative and qualitative research.

In fact, I would venture that using the 7 pillars in Second Life would very nicely tap into the cognitive AND affective domains of the information search process. By allowing collaborative discussions about the research process and by involving the students in use of such interesting tools as the Opinionater, a Likert scale social grapher (puts voting with your feet into a whole new perspective LOL), I can see an amazingly powerful application to information literacy instruction not just in tertiary, but also in school environments.

Wonderful experience. Thanks Sheila!

Photo: Moleskin Hack

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