Monday, April 27, 2015

Next discussion: 3 June on Information literacy learning design

Next discussion: Wednesday 3 June, 8pm GMT 

Article:  McNicol, S., & Shields, E. (2014). Developing a new approach to information literacy learning design. Journal of Information Literacy, 8(2), 23–35.

Thank you to Sarah and Emily for writing this introductory blog post and joining in our discussion. 

How does this discussion work? 
Anyone can join this discussion!  Participants aim to read at least some of the article in advance, then come along at 8pm GMT and join in the discussion by adding comments to this blog post. You can see how this works by looking at previous discussions (just scroll down the blog for previous posts). 

Sarah McNicol is a researcher in the Education and Social Research Institute (ESRI) at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and Emily Shields is a librarian in the same institution, with responsibility for the library’s Information Literacy offering, InfoSkills. In the article we’ll be discussing, we reported on the development and early testing of a new model for information literacy learning design called InFlow. 

InFlow has been designed to encourage students to engage with information in a variety of ways as they map, explore, ask, make, reflect, imagine, show and collaborate. As Sarah’s background is in school libraries, at first, the model was intended as one for schools, but it was clear at an early stage that there was a lot of interest from other sectors, including librarians at MMU. So Emily and her colleagues trialled the model in their information skills sessions for final year undergraduates to help to investigate how it might be used in non-school settings.

InFlow was created as part of iTEC (2010-14), a European project focused on redesigning teaching and learning. The model is closely based on a series of learning activities that were piloted among primary and secondary teachers in 19 European countries. So InFlow’s starting point is a series of practical activities which have already been tested with, and well-received by, large numbers of teachers (something we feel may be an important advantage given the challenge librarians often face when trying to engage educators in IL).


InFlow consists of eight elements (ask, collaborate, explore, imagine, make, map, reflect, show) which can be undertaken in any order and an iterative approach is strongly encouraged as students may return to a particular element several times. Unlike many models, there is no single ‘correct’ order of activities; instead, librarians, teachers and students can design different options which are best suited to their environment, student needs, resources available and so forth.

The research that supported the development of InFlow raised fundamental questions about current teaching practices in relation to IL, such as the need to encourage collaborative working; the role of students as producers of information as well as consumers; and the privileging of particular types of information sources and outputs. The resulting model suggests ways to address these. For example, while InFlow can be used to produce traditional outputs such as essays or presentations, it is equally applicable to making more creative outputs such as games, videos and artefacts (digital or non-digital). The model also encourages students to engage with primary information sources, by interviewing people or observing aspects of their environment for example, as well as using more traditional secondary sources. And collaboration is a key component of InFlow: it is designed to support social constructivist pedagogies and group projects and to help develop students’ team-working skills.

Of course, the development of InFlow didn’t happen in isolation; there’s growing recognition that IL frameworks need to change to ensure they are relevant for twenty-first century society, and for the types of pedagogies which are becoming increasingly common in today’s classrooms, such as collaborative learning, creativity, problem-solving and authentic learning tasks. Similar issues have been recognised in work such as ANCIL (Secker and Coonan, 2014) and the revised ACRL Framework (ACRL, 2014).

We welcome discussion on any issues or ideas related to the article, but questions we’ve been thinking about while we’ve been working on this include:
  • How can we involve as students active participants/co-designers in IL design? (We’ve been thinking about ways InFlow could be used to do this.)
  • What are the benefits of using IL theory to help inform practice and refresh your teaching?
  • Do you need the theory or is it better to get out there and throw yourself into teaching? How can we bridge the divide between pedagogical (teacher) language and IL (librarian) language? (Teachers in the iTEC project were often teaching aspects of IL, but were unaware of it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Next blog-post journal club: 18 February on Fostering the integration of information literacy and journalism practice

Next discussion: Wednesday 18 February, 8pm GMT 

Article: Fostering the integration of information literacy and journalism practice: a long term study of journalism students (

Huge thanks to Margy MacMillan for writing this blog post and agreeing to join us in the discussion!

When I first received the invitation to the Journal Club, I had to read it a few times to make sure I wasn`t hallucinating (in my defence, it was 5 a.m. my time). I am so honoured to be part of this as I have enjoyed lurking or catching up on discussions after the fact and find them fascinating. I’m really looking forward to this! Thanks to those who set up these events, and also to previous authors for providing excellent model blog posts.

The article in question is Fostering the integration of information literacy and journalism practice: a long term study of journalism students (, based on a project that ran from 2003-2013. The project has used a simple résumé format that asks students to annually reflect on and record their experience with information. In the first half of that study I looked at what students decided to include in their information skills, and how they described what they knew or could do. In reviewing data from 2008-2013 for similar data, I saw a more interesting story in how they were blending their information skills and knowledge into their journalism work. Many students went beyond listing resources they used to articulating how they used them, providing a window into the transfer of knowledge between their personal, academic and professional domains.

Because it isn't research unless there
are at least 4 colours of highlighter...
Students used information skills and knowledge for a number of journalistic processes: finding story ideas, identifying sources to interview, fact-checking, and reviewing the work of others to use as models, or identify gaps in coverage. Intriguingly, they included personal traits among their information skills such as curiosity and persistence – equally useful in journalism and IL. Comments throughout the résumés included many indications of knowledge transfer from one information task or ecosystem to another, and some students were explicit about this, perhaps exhibiting metaliteracy.

While I was writing the article, the ACRL was developing a new Framework for Information Literacy, informed by Hofer, Townsend and Brunetti’s work on threshold concepts. I had seen their early work and was really intrigued by this approach. Many Twitter discussions of the Framework centred around assessment and it occurred to me that the longer term, qualitative data I had might provide evidence of threshold crossing. I think it does… and I’m REALLY interested to hear what YOU think. Where I see the data being useful is in providing examples of how students describe threshold knowledge. They might not come right out and say “Authority is Constructed and Contextual”, but when they talk about finding new voices to add to a story, or bringing conflicting expert opinions together, or understanding biases in information I think they’re talking about this concept.

I don’t want to anticipate or pre-direct where the discussion will go – but here are some things that I’ve been thinking about since I hit the send button on the final copy of the article…

How much of a role did the discipline play in knowledge transfer? I was very interested to read the last discussion of Michelle Dalton’s work on healthcare professionals, and wonder what integration looks like in practical and academic work across disciplines. What does it look like for you?

What can we do in our teaching to promote this integration? – or is it just a factor of time and practice?

If this kind of evidence hints at threshold concepts, are there ways of developing assessment that will capture students’ understanding. (My mind went to the trailcams we use here for wildlife – if only we could do something similar to capture threshold crossing)…

What questions do you have about the study?

How does this discussion work? Anyone can join this discussion!  Participants aim to read at least some of the article in advance, then come along at 8pm GMT and join in the discussion by adding comments to this blog post. You can see how this works by looking at previous discussions (just scroll down the blog for previous posts). 

Monday, January 12, 2015

#ILread in 2015: have your say

We're starting the new year with good intentions and we've asked three of our regular contributors to try and inspire you to take part in the Information Literacy Journal Club this year by explaining why they got involved and what they'd like to see discussed this year.

We'll be posting the schedule for the next three discussions at the end of January, but please do add a comment below if there's any particular article or book you'd like to be discussed.

Niamh Tumelty


What is your involvement or interest in the infolit journal club?


I was a teacher before becoming a librarian and chose to focus on information literacy for my Masters thesis.  I was conscious of the gap between research and practice in librarianship so wanted to find a way to keep in touch with current research while working full-time.  I put out the idea of a blog-based discussion group and was delighted at the enthusiastic response to this idea!

What articles or books are on your personal reading list for 2015?


I'm currently reading and learning a huge amount from Fosmire, M., editor, & Radcliffe, D. F., editor. (2014) Integrating information into the engineering design process.   My current role is managing library and information services for an Engineering Department so I think I'll be reading this book from start to finish and then going back to key bits over the course of the year.

What would you most like to see discussed as part of the info lit journal club in 2015?


One of the things I really like about this discussion group is the diversity of topics covered.  Some topics that would be particularly interesting for me include:
  • Preparing students so they can apply information skills to their work after graduation
  • Support and training for postdoctoral researchers
  • Developing teaching skills among librarians

Jane Secker


What is your involvement or interest in the infolit journal club?


As the Editor of the Journal of Information Literacy, I'm keen to encourage the articles that we publish be read and discussed widely by researchers and practitioners. The articles are meant to push the boundaries of research in the field and to stimulate new research and improved practice. I've taken part in several of the information literacy journal club discussions and really enjoyed them. I find that discussions are  a great way to discipline yourself to read the literature and to really engage with an article. As a history student I actually really enjoyed seminars, so these online discussions are an opportunity to meet virtually with those interested in information literacy.

What articles or books are on your personal reading list for 2015?


I've always got a fairly long list of things I want to read, but in the IL field I am looking forward to reading Drew Whitworth's latest book on Radical Information Literacy. At the moment, I'm desperately trying to finish reading Thinking Fast and Slow, by the economist Daniel Kahneman and have a book called Essentialism: the disciplined pursuit of less by Gary McKeown lined up to read after that.

What would you most like to see discussed as part of the info lit journal club in 2015?


I'd really like to schedule another discussion about the ACRL standards when the revised final draft come out later in 2015. I'd also like to widen our discussions to include some authors from outside the UK to get a more international perspective on information literacy. And it would be great if we could have a discussion about IL in schools to tie in with the special section we had in the December 2014 issue of JIL.

Helen Blanchett


What is your involvement or interest in the infolit journal club?

I got involved in the IL journal club after being asked to write a post for the a discussion on TeachMeets and I'm now involved as a regular contributer. I always have good intentions to read more research and this provides the motivation to do this, along with encouraging me to think more deeply about what I'm reading in order to take part in the discussion.

What articles or books are on your personal reading list for 2015?

At the moment my reading is being driven by my studies for a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, with the current module being related to design of teaching and learning. I'm particularly focussing on threshold concepts so Ray Land and Jan Meyer feature prominently in my reading list, with their books "Overcoming barriers to student understanding : threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge" and "Threshold concepts within the disciplines"[PDF].

What would you most like to see discussed as part of the info lit journal club in 2015?


Like Jane, I'd like to see another discussion on the ACRL standards, perhaps looking more broadly at the idea of thresholds concepts. I have a keen interest in workplace information literacy, so that would be high on my list too. I'm always interested in any aspect of teaching information literacy, but at the moment the idea of students as co-creators of IL teaching & learning resources fits with a project I'm due to start soon.

Sheila Webber


What is your involvement or interest in the infolit journal club?

When Niamh floated the idea of an online information literacy journal club, I volunteered to help facilitate it. Marshall Dozier and I have run a monthly infolit journal club n the virtual world, Second Life, for several years and I’ve found it enjoyable and useful. It means I read articles I might not have done, and it’s interesting hearing different perspectives. However, not everyone wants to use Second Life, and so I liked the idea of participating via another channel as well. I’ve led several of the discussions on this blog: I particularly enjoyed this one, on a paper by Barbara Fister:

What articles or books are on your personal reading list for 2015?

I’ve looked at some of the chapters in the book edited by Christine Bruce and her colleagues on Information experience (and their webcast provides a good introduction ), but this year I want to work through it more carefully. I also want to read Ference Marton’s latest book, Necessary conditions of learning. Marton is the ‘godfather’ of phenomenography (the research approach for investigating variation in conceptions or experience of a phenomenon) and variation theory (an approach to teaching and learning, which maintains that (to quote the book blurb) “in order to learn we have to discern, and to discern the intended ideas we must be presented with carefully structured variation”). His ideas have been very important for my research, but also have influenced my teaching practice. Finally, I discover new reading through my students, and last week Jess Elmore shared an article with me on information literacy and identity which sounds fascinating.

Caidi, N. and Allard, D. (2005). Social inclusion of newcomers to Canada: An information problem? Library & Information Science Research, 27 (3), 302-324.

Bruce, C., Patridge, H., Davis, K., Hughes, H. and Stoodley, I. (Eds.) (2014). Information experience: approaches to theory and practice. Emerald Group Publishing. ISBN: 9781783508150

Marton, F. (2014). Necessary conditions of learning. Routledge. ISBN 978-0415739146.

What would you most like to see discussed as part of the info lit journal club in 2015?

Like Jane, I’d like to revisit the ACRL information literacy framework, which seems to have hit heavier opposition just as it was about to get to the final stage! I’m interested in MOOCs and information literacy and MOOC pedagogy at the moment, so something on that would be good. I would also like to see discussion of articles of information literacy from different cultures and countries.

That's what some existing contributers would like to see discussed - what would you like? Please add a comment with your suggestions below.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Next blog-post journal club: 14 April on draft ACRL framework #acrlilrevisions #ilread

Our next Journal Club blog-post discussion will be on 14 April 2014 at 8pm UK time (3pm US Eastern time), on the draft Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education which will update the Association of College and Research Libraries' Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (commonly called the ACRL information literacy standards). The first draft document contains the Introduction and Three Threshold Concepts plus a Glossary and Bibliography. A second draft document contains two additional threshold concepts. There has already been a consultation process, including open webinars, and the drafts are open for comment until April 15. Therefore we thought we would organise a discussion which is (just!) before this deadline in case it prompts anyone to make some comments.
Whilst the primary target for these standards are people in North America, the ACRL standards have been very influential elsewhere. Go to the following page for more information and links to the two documents and information on how to contribute to the consultation.
If you want to learn more about "threshold concepts" you might want to read this:
Hofer A, Brunetti K, Townsend L. (2013) A Threshold Concepts Approach to the Standards Revision. Communications in information literacy. 7(2), 108-113.

How does this discussion work? As usual, the idea is that people aim to read something of the item before the discussion . Then just come along at 8pm UK time on the 14th, and join in the discussion, through posting comments to this blog post. Of course lurkers are also welcome, but it will nice if you join in ;-) You can see how this works by looking at previous discussions (just scroll down the blog for previous posts).

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Next Journal club: 19th February: research agendas for information literacy? #ILread

Our next blog-post discussion will take place on Wednesday 19th February at 8pm UK time (See for times elsewhere). The focus is on the agenda(s) for information literacy research. For example:

What do you think of the research agendas that other people have drawn up? (see below)
What do you think are the top priorities for research in Information Literacy?

How does this discussion work? As usual, the idea is that people aim to read something (see below) before the discussion . Then just come along at 8pm on the 19th, and join in the discussion, through posting comments to this blog post. Of course lurkers are also welcome, but it will nice if you join in ;-) You can see how this works by looking at previous discussions (just scroll down the blog for previous posts).

Most of the time there will be a slight delay between people posting a comment on this blog, and it appearing. However, earlier on the day of the discussion we will turn moderation off, so posts appear immediately.

Reading to start the discussion going.
I've chosen three short documents produced from different perspectives: one paper from two of the top international researchers (Annemaree Lloyd and Christine Bruce), one from a medical librarian perspective, and one is drawn up by the (US) Association of College and Research Libraries. They are all on open access:
The journal club team hope you can join us to discuss this fascinating topic. If you have any questions, but them in the comments below or (if it's urgent) email me at
[Picture taken by me in Second Life, using a quote from an academic in an information literacy research project]

Friday, January 17, 2014

Next blog post Journal Club: 22nd January 8pm UK time: UNESCO's Media and Information Literacy resolution

The next online online blog-comment information literacy Journal Club meeting takes place at 8-9 pm UK time on Wednesday 22 January 2014 (see for times elsewhere).

The topic will be the resolution on Media and Information Literacy that was approved by the UNESCO General Conference in November 2013. UNESCO member countries are now encouraged by UNESCO to endorse these at a national level. This provides an opportunity to lobby governments to address information literacy at a strategic level.

Do join us for the real-time discussion of this short document at 8pm UK time on the 22nd, or you can add comments afterwards (or before) if you can't make it at that time. We realise that this is not a convenient time in all time zones, but hope that there will be comments from people from different countries, not just the UK! We will be encouraging discussion of questions such as:

- What can be done (or is already being done) in your country to lobby and challenge your government about these recommendations?
- Who can we work with on getting UNESCO member states to (quoting the resolution) "to take the Media and Information Literacy Recommendations into consideration during the planning of future strategies, policies, and initiatives on education, lifelong learning, literacy, and other areas which will contribute to building a Knowledge Society."
- How can we ensure that there isn't a focus on media literacy to the exclusion of information literacy?
- Should we rebrand all our information literacy efforts as "Media and Information Literacy" (rather than "Information Literacy"? For example, I understand that the Swedish Library Association has gone in this direction. (by the way, my view on this is a definite "no" but it will be interesting to have a debate!)

The full draft resolution is at
A press announcement from IFLA is at

The document is short, and I will just reproduce here the bullet points at the end of the recommendations themselves:
"In particular IFLA recommends that governments and organisations to do the following:
• Commission research on the state of Media and Information Literacy and produce reports, using the Media and Information Literacy indicators as a base [I have blogged about this indicators initiative previously, it is still ongoing], so that experts, educators, and practitioners are able to design effective initiatives;
• Support professional development for education, library, information, archive, and health and human services personnel in the principles and practices of Media and Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning;
• Embed Media and Information Literacy education in all Lifelong Learning curricula;
• Recognise Media and Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning as key elements for the development of generic capabilities which must be demonstrated for accreditation of all education and training programmes;
• Include Media and Information Literacy in the core and continuing education of information professionals, educators, economic and government policy - makers and administrators, as well as in the practice of advisors to the business, industry and agriculture sectors;
• Implement Media and Information Literacy programmes to increase the employability and entrepreneurial capacities of women and disadvantaged groups, including migrants, the underemployed and the unemployed; and,
• Support thematic meetings which will facilitate the acquisition of Media and Information and Lifelong Learning strategies within specific regions, sectors, and population groups."

As before, the real-time discussion will take place in comments to this blog post during the hour mentioned above, with me helping the discussion along. People are also very welcome to add comments and questions before and after this real-time event. Note that moderation is usually turned on for comments (because otherwise we get spammed!), but we will turn moderation off on the day of the discussion, so that your comments appear immediately. If you want to see what a blog post discussion looks like, just click on any of the previous discussion posts.
Photo by Sheila Webber