DIAL Project Outputs: digital information literacy group

Digital information literacy: from 23 things to unlimited things?

 Project aims:

The aim of the project is to build confidence and capability in digital information literacy, focussing on Library Services staff, building on emerging good practice. We expect that this will be transformative in many ways; some as yet unrealised, and will be clearer as the project progresses. However it will be a lever for us to extend our information literacy offer, engage more with students and work more closely with other staff in the University.


We examined 23things programmes as a starting point. These are online courses, using a blog structure to take participants through various practical exercises, for example setting up a blog and blogging, setting up a twitter account and using it. These tools are the “things”.  The participants maintain a blog, reflecting on their progress, and sharing ideas, and are supported during the course.  These programmes have been well adopted in the sector, initially designed for library staff, and adapted for researchers and other groups.

23 things for professional development

25researchthings2011.wordpress.com (University of Huddersfield and Research Information Network)

23 things for the digital professional: an online learning programme for researcher at the (University of Warwick) blogs.warwick.ac.uk/rex23phd11/

The programmes typically last several weeks, can be done flexibly, and the things are presented thematically,

e.g. Filesharing and collaboration (things: Google docs, wikis, Drop box)
Organising references ( things: Zotero, Mendeley,  CiteULike)


What are the current practices and barriers?  

We have spent some time trying to ascertain where library staff are with digital literacy skills and knowledge, and what would be a useful way of developing these.

After discussion with Chris we set up a group and group forum on process.arts, so that our debate was open, and captured within an existing community.

We are in the process of analysing the feedback more closely, but can speculate that staff are at different places in terms of digital skills. Some are experienced users of social media, but don’t yet have a role in which they can use these skills professionally, but are unsure about for example, the open access agenda, or creative commons. Others want a bit of support getting started with the practical basics, or want a bit of time and space to explore tools like Prezi.  Lack of time frequently occurs as a barrier.

Next steps

We need a better understanding of the needs and practices of our staff, and the barriers in this area. We will be following up the discussion on process.arts with some phone interviewing.

We are developing the idea of “unlimited things”, and a menu approach, rather than a linear one so that people could take their own path through it and it could be expanded to meet our growing interests, and developments in the field. We have also spent time wrestling with the literature on digital information literacy, in terms of definitions, and its relationship other digital literacies for example academic literacies, ICT skills.

There are structures that could provide a useful model in terms of the overall content, for example SCONUL Seven pillars of information literacy through a digital literacy lens 2012, which will be useful as a reference point.  (This model has the broad headings: Identify, Scope, Plan, Gather, Evaluate, Manage, Present)   It may also be useful for defining or evaluating our current offer to users, but ultimately “the things” will reflect what our staff feel they need or want to know. We also envisage, for each thing, a practical “how to”, plus examples of good practice, more information, and discussion in an open forum.

We are focussing now on “the first thing”, and in drawing up a starting list of things. In terms of software – we know it has to look good and be easy to use, and an open and shareable resource, embedded with in, and incorporating University and other resources. We don’t want to re-invent the wheel. This process of realising the idea is an area where we need help.


The first thing?

Though we had some interesting comments on process.arts, it was a numerically low discussion, though a high number of views, and one thing that became clear was that not many Library Staff knew about process.arts, and therefore, and quite understandably,  might not have felt comfortable engaging in discussion there.  We want our first thing therefore to be on the University digital landscape, taking some of the resources on intranet “Quick links” as a starting point. So –in response to “what is it, how might we use it” we will ask owners or users of these services to provide a quick “lift pitch” explanation. E.g. process.arts, ALTO, UALRO, myblog.arts, workflow.arts (probably talking head videos)

This is the priority, to rebrand from 23things to unlimited things, set up the first thing, evaluate with library staff, and move on to other things…

We need to reconsider our evaluation methods, as we have shifted ground, and will be meeting shortly with Duna to discuss.

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