Jun 09 2009
Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World
This is clearly an extremely helpful piece of work and will attract much interest and many citations. We particularly like it because it highlights issues about which we have been campaigning for some time. It also draws attention to action needs and points which again reflect our experience.
There are useful references to staff training: initial staff training and CPD programmes – p. 10 there is an equal imperative for employers to use and develop the skills of the people they already employ – p. 18 and. Web 2.0 as a communication medium is also discussed. …’it appears that lecturers and teachers are not generally disposed to interactive communication online’ – p. 24 (this is similar to Learning and Teaching Scotland’s finding re teachers lack of ICT skills.
There are useful references to the potential role of web 2.0 and student interaction and activities like induction e.g. students interacting face to face – acquires added importance and significance. Face to face contact with staff is shown to matter to students. – p. 28. There are some reference to pedagogies and the use of web 2.0 technologies in assessment (tracking individual contributions in blogs, wikis ) but they also talk about the students becoming part of the assessment – essays (from the web) found and critiqued..
The use of social networking software, usually Facebook, as a means of helping students establish contact with each other is discussed e.g. – make friends – prior to enrolment. – p. 31 also gain an understanding of the prior experience and expectations of their new entrants so that they are able to respond appropriately and effectively to them – p. 34
The report notes that Web 2.0 technologies fit perfectly with…. – the constructivist approach although this type of learning does not sit comfortably with all present day students who expect the tutor to function as a an authoritative transmitter of information. – p. 36 (Relates back to independent learning and information literacy).
A key finding on p.6: Information literacies…. – represent a significant and growing deficit area. – p. 6 (also p. 24). Also ‘Present day students are heavily influenced by school methods and delivery so that shifts in educational practice there can be expected to impact on expectations of approaches in higher education’. This is very useful but we are less happy about p.8, Practice in schools ‘Practice is variable, but the type of approach to learning outlined above – project and group-based supported by technology – appears to be in the ascendant and so likely to condition expectation in higher education’.
This seems to be linked to para 83 (p.37) which makes a number of optimistic statements, supported by only one reference and does not cite expertise in the specialist area, the School Library Association, for example. It is noteworthy that there has been no attempt to distinguish between key stages/levels/primary and secondary. Our experience on the Scottish Information Literacy Project is that while there are excellent areas of independent learning practice (See our Information literacy case studies/exemplars of good practice in schools http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/informationliteracyt) traditional methods of teaching and learning are widespread. In Scotland we now have a VLE for schools (Glow http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/glowscotland/) to promote innovative methods of learning and teaching but take-up is variable and some local authorities have refused to join it. Interestingly school librarians are among its most active champions. The outcome is that the generality of students come to HEIs with no information literacy skills and a process of what is effectively remedial education is necessary. The experience of Glow has also shown that both copyright awareness and compliance is at a low level among both teachers and pupils and this skill deficiency must transfer to the HEI sector when school pupils become students.
Para 73 (information literacies in a digital age) refers to the CIBER report and the need for information literacy training at a young age, a point echoed by the Digital Britain report (p.64) http://www.culture.gov.uk/images/publications/digital_britain_interimreportjan09.pdf. It is simply too late to leave this training until University. The HEI sector must actively engage with the schools sector from early years onwards to ensure a seamless skills progression from school to HEIS so that new students can immediately apply and develop further the independent learning skills they have learned at school. This principle is enshrined in our draft National Information Literacy Framework Scotland. URL http://www.gcal.ac.uk/ils/framework.html
In September 2009 at the Scottish Learning Festival, Professor Richard Teese, the Australian authority on Scottish education, (see http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/slf/previousconferences/2008/video/index.asp for video of keynote) criticised Scottish universities for failing to engage with and influence the Scottish school curriculum (Curriculum for Excellence). HEIs should be directly influencing the school curriculum from early years onwards in the direction of independent learning and information literacy outcomes. School teachers must also be trained in information literacy skills, a point made in the Digital Britain report (p.64). We believe we are showing the way as we now have a contract with Learning and Teaching Scotland to develop information literacy training materials for early years, accompanied by CPD materials for teachers.
Para 97 (p.40) which mentions employability skills is to be commended. These are also precisely the skills which can be introduced at school and further developed in HEIs. Govan High School in Glasgow has developed an elaborate ‘Future Skills Framework’ of 71 core transferable skills which is already attracting interest beyond the schools sector. (Summarised on our blog). http://www.caledonianblogs.net/information-literacy/2009/05/08/govan-high-school-future-skills-symposium/
We welcome – ‘JISC develops ongoing research and support programs for institutions in best practice in developing information literacy and web awareness’ – p.10
On p.41 recommendation:
‘HEIs take steps to keep abreast of the prior experience and expectations of their student body’
Is to be commended by should be supported by another:
HEIs should actively work with the schools sector at all levels to develop independent learning skills which are relevant to the HEI sector and can be further developed there.
Most of the presenters of oral evidence are based in Scotland – University of Edinburgh, Napier, Strathclyde (CAPLE). – p. 49
The report can be found at: http://www.clex.org.uk/ourfindings.php