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 http://tinyurl.com/kr8qvhb 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 http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002242/224273e.pdf
A press announcement from IFLA is at http://www.ifla.org/node/8208

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

49 comments:

  1. I'm afraid I am unable to participate in the conversation this evening, but would like to recommend the work of Drew Whitworth at Manchester University in relation to the discussion around the relationship between information literacy and media literacy. http://www.manchester.ac.uk/research/drew.whitworth/publications

    It is apparent that UNESCO view Media and Information Literacy as a "composite concept" (http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-information/media-development/media-literacy/mil-as-composite-concept/) - this kind of direction is reflected in Scandinavian and Australasian research (among others), too, and I think that this is the direction IL research in the UK will have to take if it wants to keep up with the rest of the world's research in the area. Expanding the conception of IL to a view which sees media literacy as importantly connected to it can only be a positive as far as providing literacy instruction goes, and a bonus of it would be that IL would be more respected and understood in education research and practice.

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  2. Unfortunately I will have to miss this discussion, because fortunately I have classes all afternoon (US, ET). I do want to thank Lauren for pointing to Whitworth's work.

    I am not comfortable with the of rebranding Information Literacy. I think IL is underappreciated and misunderstood outside of our profession because we haven't communicated the message outside of our profession very well, but it does have some traction at the administrative level, and with accrediting bodies. Changing the name, I fear, would confuse the issue, and put it back at square one.

    Part of the communication problem stems from the fact that we have different ideas of IL within our profession. I see it as an umbrella concept, a metaliteracy, that covers ideas like media literacy, visual literacy, digital fluency, etc. Information comes in many forms and flows through many channels. The other -literacies focus on particular forms or channels, so I see them as subsets.

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  3. Thanks Lauren and Paul for your comments! My own conception of information has been holistic, since I started focusing on information literacy in my teaching and research in the mid/late 1990s. @lauren I would say, as a UK researcher, that my focus on exploring information literacy in context is shared with my Nordic and Australian researcher colleagues, and from that perspective I don't think I need to "keep up" with them, I (with my students) am part of that community ;-)
    My problem with the UNESCO "composite concept" is that I think the information literacy bit has been defined too narrowly - I would see some of the things that are given other labels as also being information literacy.

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  4. Looking forward to the real-time discussion starting shortly! The usual tips:
    - Refresh the page often, to see the latest conversations
    - Use the "reply" link to reply to a particular comment, or use the "post a comment" box to start a new idea or question.

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    1. Thanks for getting us started! Have to say, I had a flashback to school and Model United Nations when reading the resolution :)

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    2. Yes, you have to battle your way through teh recognising, inviting and commending to get to the good stuff!

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  5. I've got some observations after attending a MIL event at UNESCO

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    1. Perhaps I should mention that I'm a member of the IFLA Information Literacy Committee, like Jane, and I also attended one of the UNESCO MIL events, working on MIL indicators

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  6. Just to kick off, there is the following definition of MIL in the resolution "Media and Information Literacy consists of the knowledge, the attitudes, and the sum of the skills needed to know when and what information is needed; where and how to obtain that information; how to evaluate it critically and organise it once it is found; and how to use it in an ethical way. The concept extends beyond communication and information technologies to encompass learning, critical thinking, and interpretative skills across and beyond professional and educational boundaries. Media and Information Literacy includes all types of information resources: oral, print, and digital." Is this very different from (e.g.) the CILIP definition of (just) Information Literacy?

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    1. It's exactly what I would call information literacy - I agree with the comments by Paul and yourself above. I'm not a big fan of terminology debates but don't have a problem with MIL (I just still think information literacy when I see it)

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    2. I don't really see the point of using MIL rather than just IL.

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    3. One of the issues that Ralph Catts highlighted at ECIL was that each group thinks their literacy is the most important and the overarching term! Personally I think this is true for IL, but perhaps we need to align ourselves explicitly with other professions that may be more likely to be listened to by governments (is that media professionals though?)

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    4. Hello! My feeling is that 'information literacy' is just too broad for a lot of people so something like 'media literacy' is more tangible. Information literacy then gets pigeonholed into a very narrow definition of 'finding information'.

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    5. @jane it's true that whatever discpline you are in, you tend to think your own one is the most important ... however (looking at it from the researcher/academic perspective) there is a more stable and substantial body of research and literature accumulated around "information literacy" than some of the other literacies, and it is still growing I think. My own feeling is that it is useful to use the "MIL" phrase and agenda to form alliances and for strategic and political purposes (and also looking out for opportunities for research grants!) but that does not mean you need to to abandon Information Literacy as a concept for practice and research.

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    6. To me information literacy is the overarching definition (but then I would say that wouldn't I?!), but pragmatism has to come into it - as Jane said, everyone thinks their definition is the umbrella term! I'm all for collaboration to raise awareness, but I'm not sure which professions the government would listen to however (and that's any government, not specifically this one).

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    7. @Sheila - yes I agree with you completely. For me it's very important to keep using the term IL as well, to add to the body of evidence. I agree that you have to be political though and call it different things to get other stakeholders on board. When I defined what I understood IL to be to a group of research managers, they were quite happy with it as a term, it just was clear that previously they thought it was a narrow term as Helen suggests and equated to finding information.

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  7. Hello! This is my first time participating. Looking forward to some interesting discussions!

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  8. I'd agree that their definition is not that different and that broadening out the understanding of IL is really important. I just found when reviewing the MIL curriculum that some of the things highlighed are really important, but if media literacy, why not digital, academic and other literacies too?

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    1. My perception was that UNESCO had Media Literacy programmes and Information Programmes and they wanted to put the two together .... so politics and pragmatism entered into it

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  9. So does anyone have thoughts on how we can advocate more for information literacy at national level? Wales seem to have been doing fantastic stuff. I'm guessing the Information Literacy Group is on the case, and I know that information literacy has been a CILIP priority as well.

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    1. I wondered whether Jane (sorry to pick on you!) had any information on whether the CILIP IL group is taking this up? The UK government does have initiatives on Media Literacy, so there could be opportunities to latch onto those initiatives?

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    2. I was hoping some of my colleagues from the IL Group would be joining us (Nancy? ) and could say a little more about this. I know there is a wider CILIP IL steering group looking at how to lobby government, in addition to what the IL group is trying to do.

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    3. Wasn't there some good work trying to get this onto the agenda in teacher training? I'm not sure what happened. It seems to me that concepts such as employability are likely the way forward and I know there is some good work in this area already.

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    4. That seems really key to me Helen - the Demos report back in 2011 on young people and the internet highlighted that it was needed and it was supposed to be taken forward.... they were calling it digital fluency and it was largely around evaluating what you find online.

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    5. I think we just have to continue efforts to get out of our echo chamber and let our work speak for itself. The more non-library conferences / journals etc we can reach, the better. Not a quick fix unfortunately.

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    6. @Helen, agree this is important, also there is the UNESCO MIL curriculum for teachers, which at the moment has a bias towards the ML rather than IL, but some IFLA colleagues have been adding to that, and there is scope for further work on it I think. I do think with teachers it is important to explicitly talk about information literacy since we would hope that (in collaboration with school librarians) they would teach it to their pupils within the curriculum....

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    7. Hi Helen, yes, absolutely agree that we need to talk to people outside the profession about this. I was really pleased to see an IL article in Journal of Engineering Education for that reason (although I haven't read it yet) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jee.20024/abstract

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  10. Going to back to Media and Information Literacy - one thing that does strike me is that librarians and journalists and media professionals don't actually come into contact with each other that much. So librarians deal more with IT staff, and some liaise now with learning developers. But we should seek out media professionals and could start in our own institution, where we have schools of journalism, media studies etc.

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    1. Also, thinking about the researcher/academic side of things - the people researching media literacy are not necessarily (or usually?) in Journalism departments. It would be good to get a focus for MIL (within universities) where you could get some dialog between practitioners and researchers in the MIL/media/IL fields.

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    2. That's interesting Jane - we're developing closer links with our media / social media teams because the library's social media team is leading the way on campus. With our academic media departments, it would be a question of changing the dynamics of the relationship however, as we already have a 'liaison' relationship - perhaps looking for opportunities for joint project work perhaps?

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    3. Good idea, Jane. When we did our Digital Edge day at Westminster last year, one of our journalism lecturers gave a very interesting talk on teaching digital literacy. You can see it at www.westminster.ac.uk/digital-edge

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    4. or in fact I've really just more or less repeated what you said, Jane, lol, but might be interesting to have some further discussion re Sheffield and LSE....

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    5. That's really interesting Emma, I wonder whether you talked the the lecturer about terminology and what media literacy might be. However, Helen is right too, that it changes the relationship from being a service provider to being a co-researcher. This i something Clare McCluskey talk's about doing in the education department at YSJ in the current issue of JIL: http://ojs.lboro.ac.uk/ojs/index.php/JIL/article/view/LLC-V7-I2-2013-1

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    6. Very happy to talk further Sheila. I will be in Sheffield to do a lecture later this term too so perhaps we can pick this up?

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    7. Are we in danger of spreading ourselves too thinly? Working within subject areas and with a range of professions? I have an interest in co-researching with education departments as I feel information literacy needs to be embedded there - how do we stretch ourselves? Can we?

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    8. That's always the difficulty. I tend to do my reading/research on my own time for this reason. I wonder if it's easier to make time for it in larger libraries? My impression is that that's also difficult because you start to lose the specialism and links with the department can be weaker. It also depends of the ethos of your workplace, whether managers see enough value in this sort of collaboration to support it.

      It also relies on the collaborator to have the time and interest! I had a really interesting conversation with an early career academic who was very interested in what I was doing, but observed that she didn't feel she knew enough/had enough experience to get involved now and expected that further along in her career she'd be too busy with teaching, research and administration for her "real" research to get involved then.

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    9. One issue is getting non-LIS academics to perceive research involving information literacy as "real" research. It can & has happened (e.g. the research Bill Johnston has done with a psychology lecturer at Strathclyde) and IL research has also had "real" funding (ie from research councils) ... this is where I feel there are loads more things I should be doing, but then I think information literacy academics/researchers also feel they are spreading themselves too thinly.

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    10. It wasn't that she didn't see it as real research, more that it's not *her* real research. She absolutely saw the value for her students but was commenting that the busier she got the less time she would have to find out more about these things.

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    11. I wonder if it's easier where subjects have research links? I can see how psychology, business, education and computer science could all overlap with IL at the edges.

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  11. It's coming up to 9pm - feel free to keep the discussion going as long as you like, but thank you Sheila for selecting the topic and writing the intro post and thanks to everyone who's joined the discussion.

    Ideas for future discussions are always welcome! Just get in touch here or on Twitter using the hashtag #ilread

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    1. Thanks everyone, I enjoyed it and look forward to joining you again next time. I'll be in touch. I don't think we have any answers but there are definitely other groups with an interest in IL we need to build partnerships with.

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    2. Yes, thanks everyone. As usual, we will keep moderation "off" until tomorrow, when the comments will start to be moderated again (i.e. from tomorrow there will be a gap between people posting a comment and it appearing; if we don't moderate the posts we get too much spam)

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  12. I will just throw in at the end - I posed the question (in the blog post) "- 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."
    Picking up on a comment sometime earlier, it seems that we should be working from (within the LIS profession) associations from all sectors (e.g. school and public library associations) not just specifically IL groups, and also seeking out other professional groups who might already have a MEDIA literacy agenda (e.g. teachers? as well as the media people already mentioned)

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    1. As I mentioned earlier, I think we just need to get out there! Also as I said earlier, l do wonder how we can get out to the range of places we need to. I think it's not just about working with professional bodies, but individuals working with those from other professions. It's difficult however, as it might not be seen as a library priority to go to non-library related events, so releasing time within work might be hard. I was quite shocked to find myself the only librarian at the Thinking Digital conference last year (http://www.thinkingdigital.co.uk/)- I self-funded as I thought it was a fascinating conference and indeed it was. I was lucky as it was on my doorstep and not too costly, but in the end, we can talk ourselves round in circles about definitions, but I think we need to let what we do speak for itself and to do that we need to keep on getting out there and showing others what we do. (Comment moved into thread from below!)

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