Go rogue! Information literacy’s role in decolonising the curriculum.

“The key message was to ‘go rogue’, to grow and adapt while recognising the history, but not being constrained by it. There was a real sense that we need to make the familiar strange, and the strange familiar”
Angela Feekery.

I love the “go rogue” picture forming in my mind! As Michael Moore said “I really didn’t realize the librarians were, you know, such a dangerous group.
They are subversive. You think they’re just sitting there at the desk, all quiet and everything. They’re like plotting the revolution, man. I wouldn’t mess with them. You know, they’ve had their budgets cut. They’re paid nothing. Books are falling apart. The libraries are just like the ass end of everything, right?”, librarians have always been open to seeing things differently, doing things differently, teaming up differently.

As I reflect on 2018 (more to come on that) and redefine what 2019 might look like, “go rogue” may just become my new catch-phrase!

Information Literacy Spaces

I was fortunate to attend a communication conference in the US is November, and attended the pre-conference focused on ‘Decolonising the Curriculum’ within the Communication discipline. The session was led by a diverse group of people, most of whom have experienced discrimination in their lives. They recognise the dominant white worldviews perpetuated in curriculum material (the communication of white people) they are teaching their students, many of whom are not white.

Part of the discussion centered on reflecting on our own positionalities within the dominant perspectives, connected not only to race and ethnicity, but the struggle against all components of dominant power (white supremacy and privilege, masculinity and hetero perspectives).

The conversation explored white privilege and white fragility openly in a space where we were all made to feel safe regardless of our identity. The idea of ‘name it, but don’t shame’ it prevailed. The focus was on empowering all…

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“Fake News”, social media and critical thinking

BBC_i-reporter

BBC iReporter

This is a fantastic online resource created by the BBC which puts players in the heart of the newsroom to explore sources and make journalistic decisions and attempt to discover what is real and what is fake news.

You are a new reporter for the BBC social media team, and you have to meet your bulletin deadlines through the course of a day.

I tested this out this morning and was impressed by the very slick format full of interactive technology and immediate results.  Players gain points for accuracy, impact, and speed – all of which are crucial in any real news setting.

Links to the New Zealand Curriculum:

This activity meets all elements of the key competencies – the capabilities for living and lifelong learning (which is what we’re all about in the school library business!)

  • Thinking – critically, creatively, and metacognitively thinking while making sense of information, experiences, and ideas to become active seekers, users, and creators of knowledge
  • Using language, symbols, and texts – understanding visual, oral, aural and written language cues to make swift decisions
  • Managing self – being resourceful and resilient while employing strategies to meet challenges under time constraints
  • Relating to others – interacting effectively online while coming up with new ways of thinking and becoming informed decision makers
  • Participating and contributing – in a digital, global environment while understanding the balance between rights, roles, and responsibilities to contributing to online communities

It also contributes to digital citizenship, information and digital literacy skills programmes, and is particularly relevant to Social Studies, English and Media studies teachers

BBC i-reporter

A big thank you to UK teacher and editor of UKEd Magazine, Martin Burrett for posting about this excellent, interactive tool, with potential to have high student engagement.

How do we put a spotlight on literacy?

As the secondary librarian on this research team, I am conscious that information literacy features at many library-centric conferences, which illustrates the point Lisa makes in this blog post about preaching to the choir. My focus, since becoming involved with this TLRI, is to extend the conversation into wider education groups, to begin some of the conversations that need to happen, and shine a light on the examples that provide evidence for the success on student outcomes when teachers and librarians work together to make IL skills visible in the classroom.

Information Literacy Spaces

mum-photo.jpgIt’s a month now since I returned from the (very) sunny Northern Hemisphere, and the tan lines have all but faded away. The trip certainly included plenty of fun (and shopping!), but most of all it was an opportunity to present our research findings at two significant conferences on higher education.

Both conferences looked very relevant to the work we’re doing in the Information Literacy Spaces project. The first conference was the European First Year Higher Education Conference, held in beautiful Utrecht. I had high hopes for this conference, as I have a long-held interest in student transition to higher education, both from a research perspective, but also in my role as a Director of Teaching and Learning at Massey University. And, indeed, there were some interesting papers. But the whole focus of the conference seemed to be about testing students at point of entry and ensuring students’ skills/knowledge matched…

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Information Literacy in the Era of Lies

IL as Meta-skill

A recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education from University of Iowa lecturer David Gooblar about how to teach information literacy in an era of lies has really got me thinking.

It is truly becoming a murky minefield to navigate, deciphering the purpose of online information. Just this week, one of our New Zealand politicians stomped into this minefield wearing big, oversized boots.

It seems on the surface, that distinguishing lies from truth should be a relatively straightforward process, but it is actually becoming increasingly difficult to make the differentiation. Those of us wearing our librarian hats will be nodding sagely at this, thinking to ourselves, yes, this we know, this we teach, this we have conversations about on an almost daily basis.  We think in this Trumpist-media-worldview era that we are the panacea to the problem.  And, yes I think we have a huge part to play in this arena.

Whitehouse Pants on Fire Cartoon

CRAAP_infographic
UC San Diego Library Libguide

But as I read further into David Gooblar’s article, I realised the approach I have been using with senior students and teachers, using the CRAAP Test to get them to think critically about the selection of information, really wasn’t going far enough, specifically in the “Purpose” part of the evaluation.

There are two pieces I’ve been missing.

The first:   Focus on evaluating the claim being made, not just the source it’s published in.  Gooblar refers to statements made by Michael Caufield, director of blended learning at Washington State University, in a 2017 blog post, where he describes the process of “lateral reading” – consulting a variety of sources to verify a claim.  He urges us to teach our students to:

  1. Look for previous fact-checking work on a particular issue.
  2. Follow a claim “upstream”, which involves following the trail of citations.
"It's more important for students to be able to evaluate claims than sources.
To assess the veracity of a given source's claims, students often have to
consult other sources."

The second:   Danah Boyd, a social media researcher states, “That the next step is for students to go beyond assessing sources and claims.  They need to be able to assess themselves.”

We need to get our students to identify their own personal “filter-bubble” (and think about our own as well!).  This is no longer about acknowledging “good” vs “bad” websites, “true” or “false” information, it is more about really digging into the bias, not just of what we’re reading and where we’re reading it, but how we’re receiving it.

True False Fooled

I want to finish with David Gooblar’s final sentence:

“How can students succeed in any intellectual pursuit if they cannot tell what’s true from what’s false?”

How, indeed!?

Research and the Internet – Are we getting smarter?

Human – business evolution

Reused from Flickr with Creative Commons License

I have just finished reading a thought-provoking article from the American Psychological Association regarding research into whether internet searching makes us feel smarter than we truly are.

It would seem that it does!  Apparently the research would suggest that we gain an inflated sense of our own knowledge, even when we don’t find the answer to what we’re looking for, after the physical act of searching the internet. However, it appears this is not the case when researchers provided the link to a website to enable subjects to answer specific questions.  It is the act of searching that makes us feel all-knowing.

Lead researcher Matthew Fisher suggests that as a result of the act of reading a book or talking with an expert we are more engaged in the research process than when we are searching the internet and so it becomes apparent to us when we have gaps in our knowledge.  This then leads us to investigate further to find the answer. “With the Internet, the lines become blurry between what you know and what you think you know.”

So what are the implications of this on education and our future generations? And will it become more obvious as our current crop of young people who seem surgically connected to their smart phones become adults?

My initial thoughts are that we need to be designing lessons that require a level of critical thinking that demands our students to engage with the material they find, and that we should not be too quick to physically or mentally throw out our non-fiction collections.

We also need to continue to engage in learning conversations with our students as well as encourage those conversations to take place between peers, and demand not only reasoned and cited answers to questions but that further questions need to be asked in the quest for new knowledge.

It could become a dangerous world indeed when decisions are being made by people who think they know everything, but in fact know very little at all.

Scaffolding Research and Guided Inquiry

Yesterday was a big day for me!  About a month ago I had been invited to speak to student teachers studying at Otago University in Dunedin about the process of scaffolding research and guided inquiry as part of their Literacy Across the Curriculum paper. I was a little nostalgic and it felt even more surreal walking into a lecture theatre I had sat in during my year at teachers college back in the early 1980’s, only this time I was the one standing at the front talking to students, some of whom had already completed degrees and were now training to go into classrooms as teachers.

The time allocated just wasn’t long enough! There was so much to tell them, share with them and discuss with them.  I easily had enough content to spread across two sessions, but we were constrained to one and so I made the best of it.  My hope is that our short 50 minutes has only just opened up potential discussions as they all contemplate graduation and beginning in their own classes next year.  To that end I have invited them to join me in the new Scaffolding Research and Guided Inquiry Group on the Virtual Learning Network.  I hope we can continue to discuss what guided research and inquiry can look like in classrooms, as these skills are relevant to all subject disciplines in all schools across every year level.

Q.U.I.C.K method for Evaluating Websites

Weighing it up

Dr Susan Sandretto from Otago University gave a stunning keynote address at the recent SLANZA Conference in Wellington on Planning for Critical Literacy. She is an engaging speaker and able to communicate well the need for us as teachers and librarians to create opportunities for teaching students about critical literacy and have them explore what it means to analyse text critically.  I have been fortunate enough to hear Susan speak on two previous occasions and she has been pivotal in giving me the necessary skills to design these two lessons, which help students grasp this concept in a digital environment.

This is the poster I developed using information Susan gave in hand-out form at her workshop I attended about two years ago.   I had several teaching colleagues also attend this workshop, and these posters were ultimately displayed in classrooms throughout the school.  I even saw it on the wall of my friend’s home office when I was visited her recently – she also happens to a former teaching colleague!

Critical Literacy Poster

Lesson 1: How to Evaluate a Website – Q.U.I.C.K

Searching the NetThrough observing typical 12 and 13 year old students’ behaviour in using computers to research, I realised they needed a lot of guidance to achieve effective results.

As part of developing an embedded programme towards achieving this aim, I designed this lesson to get Y8 students thinking about how to decide whether a website they are looking at is a good choice for their research needs.

I would typically teach this lesson after having already taught the class about keyword searching and selecting websites from their results.

The Quality Information Checklist is a great resource to engage students with how to evaluate websites and promote discussion in small groups about why it’s important to do this.

 

Lesson 2: Evaluating Websites

I have designed another lesson activity that I typically teach in either Year 9 or 10 where I remind them of the Q.U.I.C.K steps and get them to use as many as necessary to evaluate an assigned website. Here’s the lesson plan and a link to the Livebinder resource:

Evaluating Websites - Hoax lesson

It really brings home the message to students that just because a website looks slick and has lots of bells and whistles, doesn’t make it appropriate, relevant, correct or even true.