A critical community based approach to changes in HE #arlg19 keynote

Earlier this week I was delighted to give a keynote at the Academic and Research Librarians Group annual conference at the University of Teesside, Darlington.

Information literacy is a central theme in the work I have been doing with my co- researchers and writers, Bill Johnston and Keith Smyth. So in the talk I focused in on some of the information literacy based aspects of our recent book.

A critical understanding of the information structures that are building around every aspect of our daily lives is becoming more and more important. This recent DEMOS report, Warring Sounds; Information Operations in a Digital Age, is worth a look – particularly around some of the militaristic language it uses. Control of what they term “information operations” is not just the battle ground of the future, it’s the battleground of now. Ensuring our education systems (at every stage) are developing holistic and discipline specific approaches to information literacy is key to ensuring that we all can, what the report calls defend (I prefer critically understand and question) ourselves against those who exploit and control information operations is more vital than ever.

At the edTech19 conference last week I was struck in a couple of presentations about students using of video. A couple of studies I went to showed that despite staff diligently spending time curating videos within module spaces in VLEs, students were still going to youtube if they didn’t understand “stuff”. This was causing some concern as the students had also stated that they weren’t totally confident about the veracity of the videos. When I asked in one session if this study was going to lead to including some more information literacy based sessions on evaluating video resources in that discipline, I was told that (paraphrasing here) no, not really there is some study skills material available but we really just don’t have any room in curriculum for that. We need to make room for “that”. We need to ensure that our students understand where and how information/content comes from and how to assess it. It can, and is, being done (thank you wikimedia foundation) – but we need to collectively do more.

My slides from the talk are available here.

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