Creative Literacies and Learning With Latino Emergent Bilinguals

Article Synopsis and Core Research Questions

This article centers on a study of bilingual learners and the use of creative multimodal activities. Creativity in education helps to build skills in learners such as problem solving, adaptability, critical thinking, motivation, and engagement. This can be especially helpful for teachers working with diverse students, and in a post No Child Left Behind education environment where test scores have been an increased focus, serving economically disadvantaged students requires increased strategy. Students from lower socioeconomic brackets have been shown to be affected by the shift in focus on “factual learning for immediate higher test performance” (p. 274). Creativity and language are closely linked, and this article points out that research suggests bilingual students have “enhanced creativity when compared to monolinguals” (Ricciardelli, 1992). The authors also cite that the learners’ home environment is also important in the creative and divergent thinking process (Kharkhurin, 2010).

The research questions the authors of the study created were:
1) Will an instructional sequence involving expansive literacy activities grounded in learners’ sociocultural realities and mediated by technology result in first grade bilingual students’ enhanced creative performance in writing samples?
2) What are the distinguishing characteristics of creative written products bilingual students generate when invited to share their home and community experiences orally and visually?

Methodology

The study took place at two public elementary schools, with a total of 93 first graders. There was a study group and a control group. Throughout the course, students were asked to document their family meals, daily activities, and community experiences. They were given low-cost digital cameras to do so. From these photos, they chose the stories they wanted to tell using a variety of formats and themes. The students could use multi-modalities such as creating comics using Comic Life software, drawing paper-based comics, or using talk and thought bubbles to express their stories. The children were told they could use any or all of their languages. The message students received was that their stories were appropriate and worth communicating in school. Before and after the biliteracy curriculum, children were asked to write a story about their families and were given unlimited pieces of blank white paper to do so, without any further instructions.

Quantitative data analysis focused on these before and after stories. An interesting part of the study was that the researchers came up with a way to measure creativity to determine the change in a student’s creativity. Based on other research, they created a rubric that included five elements: Complexity, Richness of Imagery, Richness of Text, Amount of Text, and Expressions of Feelings and Emotions. Two raters assessed the assignments and assigned points in these areas. For example, a story with only images or text with no “add-ons” (e.g., glued pieces of paper) was given 1 point in the area of Complexity, while a story with three references to feelings was given 3 points (the highest rating) in the area of Expressing Feelings and Emotions.

Findings and Conclusions

Analysis of the conducted research demonstrated statistically significant differences in scores across four of the five creativity characteristics– Complexity, Richness of Imagery, Richness of Text, and Amount of Text; both those in the control group and those in the instructional group repeatedly saw increases in frequency of occurrence. The fifth characteristic, Feelings and Emotions, was shown to increase between pre and post testing among those in the instructional group while actually minimally decreasing across that of the control group; while not drastic enough to be significant statistically, this demonstrates that the instructional group intoned more sense of feelings into their writing pieces due to their exposure as opposed to those in the control group who saw a decrease of included emotions.

Overall, findings of the study led researchers to identify several ways in which students increased their creative writing products after participation in biliteracy instruction. The authors noted that “the lack of creativity in the final products generated from students in the control group suggests that creativity, unless it is stimulated and valued, does not spontaneously increase as a result of students’ schooling experiences” (p. 285). Another major find of the study “found that complex writings were enriched by progressively more complex drawings and that written and visual elements were highly integrated and complemented each other” (p. 287).

Critical Thinking

The authors of this study have made their case for reintroducing literacy pedagogy that “valued students’ cultural and linguistic funds of knowledge” through a blending of home and school and community heritage. There is no question that the intention of the authors and the benefits of the study to the student’s were positive. The concern is in the appearance of bias by the authors who seem to overreach by twice using the quote “Research shows that bilinguals have enhanced creativity when compared to monolinguals” (Ricciardelli, 1992). According to the participants paragraph under the heading methodology, the authors did not include monolingual students in their study. None of the results of the instant study can be claimed to prove a higher instances of creativity in study participants over monolingual students. The study results indicate that the students definitely learned about using technology, increased their ability to express themselves, learned how to appreciate their culture, and increased their observation skills. They also had a terrific learning experience as the authors proudly relate. The authors of this study are making the point that creativity is a missing component in bilingual education research and have used this study to point to the need for more comprehensive studies. The question still remains–why the need to denigrate monolingual students. The authors admit “We focus here in one of our findings: that such pedagogical invitations foster bilingual students’ creativity.” Wouldn’t a similar study of monolingual students show statistically similar results from creative multimodal teaching practices? Nothing that is in the conceptual frameworks, data, findings or results speaks to a lack of creativity by monolinguals as they simply were not included in the study.

References

Martinez-Alvarez, P., Ghiso, M.P., & Martinez, I. (2013). Creative literacies and learning with Latino emergent bilinguals. LEARNing Landscapes Journal, 11, 273-298. Retrieved from: http://www.learninglandscapes.ca/images/documents/ll-no11/pmalvarez.pdf

User Experience is a Social Justice Issue

User Experience is a Social Justice Issue
by Sumana Harihareswara
Empathy and the User Experience

Monica Diego
Kristi Hansen
Dana Kim
Stephanie Miko
Grace Song

Sumana Harihareswara defines customer service as a basic human right; the author’s aim is to change practices to focus on the needs of the user. Sometimes, as the author points out, technology gets in the way of good customer service. One such example is the “19 Steps of Hell” described at the New York public library. A user must complete 19 steps to use an e-book. Consider a user who is not fluent in English or a disabled user, these extra steps create a barrier and barriers stop the flow of information. It can also be seen in the Keurig coffee system: the Keurig’s benefits and detriments are weighed by the users, and it works for some people, but not all. It is important to be able to step back and look at services from the viewpoint of the user, and take into account the diverse needs of the library. The author discusses empathy and the need for librarians to think in terms of human relationships instead of hard and fast rules.

Being hospitable is accepting feedback (the negative as well as the positive), and turning that feedback into usable data. It is important to “see from many different user’s points of view, even when it’s uncomfortable or shows us that we’ve failed” (Harihareswara, 2015, p. 4). Working together and learning to communicate effectively is a practical solution to better customer support. Libraries and technology go hand in hand, and according to Harihareswara empathy is listening and responding.

In a public library setting it is crucial to focus on the providing of services, and as Harihareswara states, the building of capillaries instead of arteries, or building personal relationships and leaving the technology building to those who can better control it. Leaving the arteries to others, and creating a better user experience using disciplined empathy, the public library can provide welcoming hospitality coupled with the cutting-edge technology users crave.

After the author, Sumana Harihareswara, stated many examples of proven issues in lack of usability in banking, e-books, and others, she concluded that there was a simple lack of empathy on the developer’s side of programming (Harihareswara, 2015). It is obvious that poor usability leads to lack of use, which causes a barrier in information access, which is a complete disregard for open access. Allowing obstacles like bad usability to plague the information world, ultimately narrows awareness.

The author concludes that simple actions of empathy for the users and keeping an open mind to possible improvements, can destroy unneeded barriers to information access. Creating a connection between developers and users through communication, allows developers to modify any needed programing to allow for better usability. This can be done by organizing a diverse group of control members who can trouble shoot issues during development phases (Harihareswara, 2015). The author also asks to omit any notions of dominant point of views. As a programmer and creating a product, it’s easy to assume a product is perfect because it is your creation in a professional environment, but will your audience and users understand the product in its entirety. Being empathetic to these users and open to feedback can greatly increase the usability and use of your product, which is in the end the entire purpose to a creation.

This issue can be labeled as “bad customer service.” A simple definition of customer service states it is “the act of taking care of a customer’s needs by providing and delivering professional, helpful, and high quality service and assistance before, during, and after the customer’s requirements are met.” Our author states that customers need to be treated “as a first class responsibility and a source of important data” (p. 3). Designing with a code of “disciplined empathy” will ensure all user needs are meet, the product is at its best, and all possible information is available for all to access and use.

The term “social justice” refers to making sure no one is left behind in issues of civil rights, opportunities, or just clearing out the judgments people make against each other that separate them in society. Social justice aims to erase barriers, so everyone in our society is able to enjoy the same high quality of life without prejudice. Harihareswara has stumbled on a hidden prejudice in our Internet society: one that is against the computer illiterate. People may joke that they’re “bad” at computers or that they need their kids show them how to use their smartphone. The more we step away from paper and face-to-face interaction, the bigger the divide between the tech savvy and the computer illiterate. This is something people may be embarrassed about and try to mask it with jokes, but it is no laughing matter.

When Harihareswara mentions the “19 Steps of Hell” to borrow an e-book from the library, that is something relatively inconsequential in an individual’s life. But as we saw last year with the roll out of Obamacare, bad user design and interface, combined with people who may be elderly, disabled, or lack proper Internet access, creates a cascading operational failure.

Customer service and the IT department will gripe about the problem being “between the keyboard and the chair”, meaning it is not the system’s error but the user’s. But many of these same designers refuse to view their creation as difficult for the layperson to use. Many times programmers are focusing on speed, precision, and economy of language. What one programmer may see as needless words – an inelegant dumbing down of the expedient user system being designed – may be necessary explanations for those who are less confident in their computing skills. Isn’t it possible that while we librarians work to help the public with their computer skills, we should also be teaching our programmers and designers to be creative, compassionate, and just?

In conclusion, this article addresses much more than the issue of improving customer service. Most public service domains, companies and businesses know that customer service should always be great and impressive for its customers. Harihareswara explores the questions of how and why. The purpose of this article is to lead to more meaningful conversations on how to incorporate diversity in the workplace and how doing so will lead to better products and services. Simply put, the more diverse identities a library has in its staff, the more comfortable patrons will feel using the services. For example, if the designers of library software, websites and/or services are made from the point of view of people who may not have as much education or may not be completely fluent in English, then perhaps more people (especially those who are marginalized) will be able to use it without getting frustrated or feeling inadequate. The author’s discussion of hospitality and disciplined empathy are core to her argument that with more effective communication and through more listening and observing, services will be more all-inclusive. The aspect of including more people, especially those who are of minority groups or do not have as much opportunity in work or in the general society, will be helpful in the long run with lasting positive changes. It does not start with the product or service itself, it starts with the willingness to understand different people.

References
Harihareswara, H. (2015). User Experience is a Social Justice Issue. Code{4}lib Journal, 1-5.

Enhancing students’ scientific and quantitative literacies through an inquiry-based learning project on climate c hange

“Promoting sustainability and dealing with pressing environmental problems is likely to be more effective with a citizenry that is scientifically and quantitatively literate and supportive of the interdisciplinary work necessary to address and understand complex problems as well as support their solutions.” (McCright, 2012, p. 86)

In order to achieve sustainable progress in the fields of physical science, we must apply a healthy understanding of social sciences to bio-physical science issues. This holds true especially for students studying STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects. Aaron McCright explores this principle through a study examining the impact of an interdisciplinary, inquiry-based project combining sociological and climate change research on STEM students’ learning outcomes. The project documented in this study revolves around the experiences of students enrolled in a junior-level environmental social science course at Michigan State University’s Lyman Briggs College.
The study posits the following core research questions:
What is the role of social science in the education of students in the STEM disciplines?
Can participation in a semester-long inquiry-based learning project that involves sociological research on climate change enhance the scientific and quantitative literacy of STEM students?

Methods

To answer the research questions posed by this study, the researchers used juniors and seniors at Michigan State University’s Lyman Briggs College who had previously taken STEM related classes and a freshman level course introducing them to basics of history, philosophy, and sociology (HPS). The experimental group was made up of twenty-seven students in McCright’s “The Natural Environment: Perceptions and Practices” class while the control group was made up of the 130 students in the other five similar HPS classes.

The experimental group was given a pretest and a post-test while the control group was given only a post-test. These pre- and post-test surveys included questions to measure “perceptions of scientific principles, attitudes toward the social sciences and statistics, self-assessment of scientific and statistical skills, and assessed knowledge of scientific and statistical processes” (McCright, 2012, p. 89). Some items were changed slightly for the experimental group from the pretest to the post-test to prevent students from simply selecting the same answer from the pretest. The post-test survey was given to all groups during the twelfth week of the semester.

Three types of “outcome variables” were measured by the surveys: knowledge, skills, and attitudes. The knowledge questions measured the students knowledge of basic scientific concepts. The skills questions asked students to rate their own skills from one to five as to whether they “strongly disagreed’ or “strongly agreed” that they had a certain scientific skill. Finally, the attitude questions asked students to rate whether a certain field was scientific or not on a scale of one to five.

Findings

McCright’s pre-test and post-test analysis revealed three findings that were statistically significant. The first was improvement in knowledge of scientific principles and basic statistics. This was drawn from an increase in the average aptitude scores in the subject (out of nine), from four correct pre-project to over six correct in the twelfth week of the project. McCright hypothesized that the score would have been even higher if the subjects were tested at the very end of the course. The strength of his knowledge improvement argument is bolstered by the project class receiving better average scores than the student control group.

The second finding was an increase in scientific research skills. This is drawn from a scoring of the self-assessment of skills. This finding also benefits from being higher on average in the project class than the control group, but suffers as the self-assessment method is less reliable than other assessments might be. McCright acknowledges this in the “Discussion” portion of the article.

Finally, McCright found that the project class showed higher average response scores than the control group indicating respect for sociology and social science. Achieving this type of result, McCright argues, is a step toward cultivating interdisciplinarity for these STEM students. An interdisciplinary mindset is an attribute the researcher stresses is becoming more valued among research groups.

Further Research

While the results suggested that STEM students would benefit from exposure to sociological research techniques, there were limitations to the study that suggested areas of further research. The design of the study was prevented from being completely randomized due to the difficulties of sorting students into different classes. Logistical difficulties with collecting surveys from students in multiple classes throughout the semester also limited the study. McCright suggests further research with careful planning to allow for a truly randomized design to allow researchers to confirm their findings.

Another limitation to the study that could be improved upon in further research is the methods of measuring the students’ scientific process and statistical skills. The measures used in the study were somewhat basic. Literature contains better methods for measuring these items that could be repurposed for further studies of this type and offer a more accurate idea of students’ skills at various points during the study.

Finally, the study was limited by its measure of short range impact only. McCright argues that it would be beneficial to researchers to follow up with the students after the semester ends, perhaps weeks to months later, to see if the benefits of participation in a sociological inquiry-based learning project extend beyond the short term. Future studies could plan for a longer timeframe for measuring impact as well, with more surveys at various points throughout the students’ undergraduate careers.

Library Services to Children, Teens, and Families Experiencing Homelessness

Terrile, V. C. (2009). Library services to children, teens, and families experiencing homelessness. Urban Library Journal, 15(2), 20-34
Synopsis and Core Research Questions
In the article Library Services to Children, Teens, and Families Experiencing Homelessness, Terrile describes the demographics and educational issues children and teens experiencing homelessness face every day. The author explores the role library programs can play in improving the challenges this population encounters. The author also examines some model library programs reaching out to children, teens, and families experiencing homelessness.
Persons who are homeless are one of the most marginalized populations that libraries may encounter. Policies and services that address homelessness may range from “antagonistic to welcoming and supportive” (pp 21). Most of the persons experiencing homelessness are children, with the average age being nine years old (pp 20) and families with children are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population (pp 20). Though the rate of families experiencing homelessness is rising, often young people are not considered in these counts if they are “doubling up” with other families (pp 22). Children and teens experiencing homelessness are often given little support from social service and nonprofit agencies. Additionally, homelessness affects Black and Latino persons disproportionately.
Other facts:
• Approximately 1.2 million children living in families with no secure housing (in 2007)
• Approximately 1,682,900 homeless and runaway youth (2008)
• Up to 45% of teens seeking a shelter bed were released from foster care in the previous 12 months
Obstacles that children and teens experiencing homelessness face often surround school access and achievement and include registration and transportation issues, internet access issues, access to reference books and materials, and lack of access to school supplies. Children and teens experiencing homelessness are at higher risk of bullying, higher risk of behavioral problems, literacy deficits, and developmental delays (pp 23).
Research has found that children and teens experiencing homelessness are often very skilled at making references and comparisons. These skills can be built upon by libraries by offering opportunities to integrate art with literacy for these children and teens to make connections through a “creative multidisciplinary approach.” (pp 25)
Methods
The author used literature review and personal communication with library programs to gather information.
Findings
Factors such as lack of transportation, lack of legal guardianship, proof of residency, access to records, and lack of access to child care for younger children make library accessibility challenging for children and families experiencing homelessness. Bringing library programs and services to the population is vital to creating successful programs. This means providing programs to shelters and other community areas that are easier for this population to access. Out of school programs have proven to help narrow the achievement gap with this population (pp 27). Moreover, providing literacy services to parents enhances children’s literacy as well (pp 25).
The biggest obstacle to outreach efforts to children and families experiencing homelessness is the same event that helped to cause the doubling of homeless families: the recession of 2007/2008. Libraries are seeing budget cuts and many programs are surviving only because of dedicated volunteers.
The author highlights some model programs that reach out to children and teens experiencing homelessness. These include:
• Project Horizon (since 1989) with the DeKalb County Library provides paperback deposit collections and storytellers to shelters
• The Charleston (South Carolina) County Library partnered with the Carolina Youth Development Center. Services include librarian visits to residential centers and a book club
• Akron (Ohio) Summit County Public Library and partner Project Rise provides summer reading programs to area shelters
• Camp LAPL with the Los Angeles Public Library
• The New York Public Library has been providing services to this population since 1987. Programs include “Read to Me” and Summer Story times.
Unanswered Questions and Future Research
Access seems to be the largest barrier for this population and libraries are in a unique position to assist. Libraries create access. ALA’s equity of access and ALA’s policy of Library Services to the Poor can help drive libraries to create programs and services that support children, teens, and families experiencing homelessness. “Equity of access means that all people have the information they need – regardless of age, education, ethnicity, language, income, physical limitations or geographic barriers.” (ALA 2015) The author mentions the ALA guidelines, but does not delve too deeply into how these guidelines can assist in the development of programs and services to children, teens, and families experiencing homelessness. This is an area for future development.
Terrile addresses many of the realities of extending programs to children and families who are experiencing homelessness; however there are still many opportunities for research in this area. Future articles could address developing community partnerships to provide services to this and similar (such as the “invisible” homeless ) population, and securing funds (through fundraising or grants) for outreach programs.
Despite the recession having ended and the economy rebounding, the number of children and teens experiencing homelessness does not seem to be lessening. A report from Child Trends data bank indicates that there were approximately 1.3 million students experiencing homelessness in 2012-2013, but the increase in number could be due to better reporting standards (including those who were “doubling up” with other families, etc.) Whether the reporting is better or not, this is a significant portion of the population that requires library access and services.
Ideas for Programs and Services
• Staff Sensitivity Training can eliminate the antagonistic policy trend towards persons experiencing homelessness
• Partnering with healthcare organizations, churches and other organizations
• Social Worker Services in the library
• Pairing arts and crafts and literacy programs to develop skills at which this population already excels
• Partnering with schools and school/government organizations that address homelessness in youth (these may vary from state to state or city to city, for example in Albuquerque New Mexico Child Find works with the schools to ensure children experiencing homelessness have access to education)
• Bringing services to food banks and other community organizations working with persons who are homeless.

References

Akron Public Schools. (2015). Project Rise. Retrieved from http://www.akronschools.com/group/programs/Project+RISE

American Library Association. (2015). Equity of Access. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/access/equityofaccess

American Library Association. (2015). Policy on Library Services to the Poor. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/offices/extending-our-reach-reducing-homelessness-through-library-engagement-7

Child Trends Data Bank (2015, March). Homeless Children and Youth Report. Retrieved from http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=homeless-children-and-youth

DeKalb Library Foundation. (2015). Retrieved from http://dekalblibrary.org/foundation/impact/preparing-readers

Jenkins, M. (2014 August 27). D.C. adds a social worker to library system to work with homeless patrons. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-adds-a-social-worker-to-library-system-to-work-with-homeless-patrons/2014/08/26/2d80200c-2c96-11e4-be9e-60cc44c01e7f_story.html

State Library of North Carolina. (2015, June 16). Library service to people experiencing homelessness, Forsyth County. Retrieved from http://statelibrarync.org/ldblog/2015/06/16/lsta-stories-library-service-to-people-experiencing-homelessness-forsyth-county/

Terrile, V. C. (2009). Library services to children, teens, and families experiencing homelessness. Urban Library Journal, 15(2), 20-34. Retrieved from http://ojs.gc.cuny.edu/index.php/urbanlibrary/article/view/1257

“What If I Break It?”: Project Management for Intergenerational Library Teams Creating Non-MARC Metadata

Much of the literature addressing the transition of library staff from traditional MARC cataloging to non-MARC metadata creation focuses on the skill sets that can be applied in both types of work. Often, the primary topic is how to build upon the foundational skills specific to cataloging to develop skills in metadata creation. Thompson, a new metadata librarian at the Iowa State University (ISU), approaches the process from a different angle to address the barriers to participation in new technology-rich initiatives faced by staff members who vary greatly in age, theoretical knowledge and understanding, technological experience and expertise, communication practices, and work styles. The author, tasked with training the cataloging staff to work with the ISU Library’s digital collection and institutional repository, explores a number of strategies that may be used to bridge these gaps. Thompson shares her experience and the various project management methods that proved effective in shaping cohesive teams and co-working communities comprised of fully-participating colleagues with diverse perspectives and skill sets.
In order to promote communication and training, various methods and strategies were used to address barriers exhibited by cataloging librarians and support staff. An open communication approach was practiced based on staff questions and answers centered around supervisor time availability posted. This was done to promote better understanding of cross functioning service departments. Both professional and nonprofessional staff were part of inclusive emails covering project goals and participant roles showing benefits and accomplishments noted. These goals were shared in order to create workflow awareness and clarity of staff expectations. Training was performed with the issues of technological anxiety and fear of change addressed using the following strategies:
• Open staff communication and accountability centered around technological training based on freedom to learn and make mistakes. Staff spreadsheets were saved with back up files.
• Technological terms and acronyms used and discussed for training in relation to being a barrier in staff participation.
• Addressing the difference between codified sets of standards in cataloging versus the constant change seen in metadata with discussion. Examples of values in data dictionaries along with practice records were provided along with FAQ emails in training.
• Participant development methods for critical thinking were used with example documents from instructional designers.
• Diversity of learning styles were looked at and active learning groups used in practice activities.
• Training sessions providing small group instruction with new software were used in assisting staff in need of extra help.
• Experimentation of workflow management tools along with spreadsheets as tracking tools used for individual projects and staff identification for training.
• The concept of listening and making sure staff feel included as a motivational strategy for change and growth.
Communication is a significant part of Thompson’s findings throughout her project management, and also ties into active listening, clearly stating goals, relieving anxiety, and being inclusive with staff trainings. Thompson continually stresses the importance of communication through all aspects of the project. Thompson also found that by sharing the “why” and the “who” of the project, staff would feel more understanding of what the project is, why it is important, and the overall benefits of the end result. Staff trainings are a fantastic place to make sure project staff are comfortable with asking questions of their peers and higher ups. Many times in an organization, there are staff with many different levels of education and learning capabilities. It is important those in charge are able to lead in such a way their staff feel comfortable talking to them about their questions and concerns.
Documentation is also a conclusion that Thompson came to. Documenting guidelines, end results, and instructions will possibly alleviate some of the anxiety staff may have early on or down the road. Staff will be able to look back at notes, documents, and guidelines to find answers to their questions. There is also the possibility of technology anxiety. With all the changes that happen on a day-to-day basis, there may be some staff that are anxious about deleting or corrupting information within the project. Some solutions to technology anxiety are to create backup files and grant permissions that do not allow staff to delete everything. Thompson found this allowed her staff to better experiment with the project and their duties without fear of doing irreparable harm to the project.
One question that has not been fully answered here and may offer additional insights is: how are other academic libraries conducting this kind of training? As the author stated, “I write from the perspective of a new metadata librarian without formal supervisory responsibilities, who is also engaged in the process of acclimating to a very traditional library environment.” We wonder if other, similar libraries, who are working to move from traditional MARC cataloging, used more appropriately trained staff: did they use staff who were skilled in supervisory roles, people who were able to create allegiances and motivate others as part of their day-to-day work? This question leads to a related one: are there outside professionals who can offer competent training in this area? Further questions would be: are they affordable, and would this form of contracting allow for enduring results that build capacity in those who are new to non-MARC metadata collection? The author also mentioned she had “very little experience with teaching” and this begs the question: if someone whose skill set included a strong teaching emphasis with adult learners, would the process have been even more successful and required less time? If the author were given some training in the area of effective practices in training workers to meet new challenges, would this have helped meet the desired objectives?
Another series of questions and possible ideas for further research reside in determining how the people who were trained felt about this process. Were they given a well-reasoned needs assessment, time to frankly answer it, and assurance their lack of knowledge and skills would not be punitively acted upon? Were they offered the chance to respond to a survey (electronic, one-on-one, written, or other) evaluating: how they felt the trainings helped them, what might be improved, and if they felt their skills were strengthened enough for them to continue to grow either independently or with limited help? Additional research into how staff feel they might learn best, especially in important and complex areas, would provide further insight, and technological forces may yet uncover even more beneficial ways to train people.

Houtman, E. (2013). New literacies, learning, and libraries: How can frameworks from other fields help us think about the issues?. In the Library with the Lead Pipe.

Summary:

In the article, Eveline Houtman explored alternative frameworks which could be use in the library community. In the past few years, the transliteracy framework was promoted within the LIS field. Sue Thomas coined the term. Transliteracy was discussed in journal articles, librarian blogs and among professionals. It was “the ability to read, write, and interact across range of platforms, tools and media” (3). She believed LIS professionals should consider other possible frameworks in their discussion of new digital literacies. She examined variety of frameworks such as new literacies, multimodality and multiliteracies.

With social media being prominent in today’s society, Houtman also references the idea of utilizing the concept in libraries to help illustrate transliteracy. Librarians want to see if students can go beyond the simple definition of literacy that of which is to read and write, but to see if they can think cognitively. For example, librarians have used facebook as a way to search trending articles comparing some of the functions to database searching. The idea of truncations and quotation marks are used in the keyword search to explore the results given. This concept is used to see if students can follow directions and use their creativity in research for specific subjects. Also, this allows to tie in the idea of research with something that interests them which will, in turn, get them to want to learn.

Core Research Questions:

Some of the core questions being asked in this article that have generated research for this article and because of it include establishing a definition for “literacy.” In so doing, it is easy to fall back on the established understanding of literacy as the ability to read and write, however, following that conclusion of basic communication skills to its logical conclusion it is easy and necessary to push the term literacy or literate to other areas, e.g. computer-literate, social literacy, cultural literacy, business literacy (may also be called business savvy) and other literacies for seemingly every aspect of life.
Another question that seeks a definition is what is, “Transliteracy?” The originator of the term, Sue Thomas, and her team offer the notion that it is, “the ability to read, write, and interact across a range of platforms, tools, and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and films, to digital social networks.” Thomas and her team have even expanded and attempted to explain that definition as have others. The key to understanding what is meant by the term seems to lie in its Latin root, “trans” meaning across, covering several areas or even an expanse of time. In this case covering a range of literacies. The definition of transliteracy seems to be still under consideration.
This leads to another question that researchers might well ask, “Is transliteracy a settled concept?” The answer seems to be no since the definition is still fluctuating. Some people feel that it is, while others feel it is simply a fleeting buzzword and momentary notion.
Further research questions include the following, “Are there other frameworks emerging alongside transliteracy that seek to understand and incorporate new digital media?”

Findings and Conclusions:
At the end of the article, Houtman concluded transliteracy like any other learning theory can be deictic. The meaning of the definition and concept can evolve over time. The framework was originally introduced to the library community in 2007 (p. 9). She pondered how much transliteracy has really changed over the years. Houtman questioned whether LIS professionals should continue adopting transliteracy if it is not recognized in other fields. She considered turning to other learning frameworks. It remained an unresolved issue.

She brought up new issues about the future role of librarians and information professionals in digital literacy. She expressed concerns that other fields ignore the value of libraries in society. They represent important institutions that facilitate long life learning in the community. Librarians should be active participants and contributors in constructing new forms of literacies. They are one of the stakeholders along with educators, policymakers and other groups. With emergence of new internet and computer technology, librarians will remain relevant in the digital age. Even though, millennials are digitally literate compared to previous generations, they have not fully developed the skills and knowledge to search for accurate information. Librarians have opportunities to educate current and future generations how to effectively search, access and evaluate information. New forms of technology will lead to new information seeking behaviors and search strategies.

Unanswered Questions:

Transliteracy is a difficult concept to grasp because there are many theories being pulled from a variety of frameworks that makes librarians wonder what is the better solution in utilizing the idea. Houtman, in the article, makes a valid point about the idea being too narrow, yet too broad and is trying to find a solution in balancing the equation. She states, “Too broad because it tries to encompass every aspect of human communication past, present, and future. Too narrow because it fails to take into account issues of importance to the library world, such as pedagogy and digital inclusion.” To explain this further, librarians want to use library resources that are useful and current to the today’s generation without overwhelming students with too many key point and concepts. Moreover, librarians want to simply see if students can think cognitively by navigating through a research database independently. Many questions arise on how to accomplish this fluidly, but also so that it will appeal to ESL learners.

Houtman, E. (2013). New literacies, learning, and libraries: How can frameworks from other fields help us think about the issues?. In the Library with the Lead Pipe.

Jamie Carter
Eric Cardoso
Ton Vo Ngo
Elyssa Gooding

Houtman, E. (2013). New literacies, learning, and libraries: How can frameworks from other fields help us think about the issues?. In the Library with the Lead Pipe.

http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2013/new-literacies-learning-and-libraries-how-can-frameworks-from-other-fields-help-us-think-about-the-issues/

Summary:

In the article, Eveline Houtman explored alternative frameworks which could be use in the library community. In the past few years, the transliteracy framework was promoted within the LIS field. Sue Thomas coined the term. Transliteracy was discussed in journal articles, librarian blogs and among professionals. It was “the ability to read, write, and interact across range of platforms, tools and media” (3). She believed LIS professionals should consider other possible frameworks in their discussion of new digital literacies. She examined variety of frameworks such as new literacies, multimodality and multiliteracies.

With social media being prominent in today’s society, Houtman also references the idea of utilizing the concept in libraries to help illustrate transliteracy. Librarians want to see if students can go beyond the simple definition of literacy that of which is to read and write, but to see if they can think cognitively. For example, librarians have used facebook as a way to search trending articles comparing some of the functions to database searching. The idea of truncations and quotation marks are used in the keyword search to explore the results given. This concept is used to see if students can follow directions and use their creativity in research for specific subjects. Also, this allows to tie in the idea of research with something that interests them which will, in turn, get them to want to learn.

Core Research Questions:

Some of the core questions being asked in this article that have generated research for this article and because of it include establishing a definition for “literacy.” In so doing, it is easy to fall back on the established understanding of literacy as the ability to read and write, however, following that conclusion of basic communication skills to its logical conclusion it is easy and necessary to push the term literacy or literate to other areas, e.g. computer-literate, social literacy, cultural literacy, business literacy (may also be called business savvy) and other literacies for seemingly every aspect of life.
Another question that seeks a definition is what is, “Transliteracy?” The originator of the term, Sue Thomas, and her team offer the notion that it is, “the ability to read, write, and interact across a range of platforms, tools, and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and films, to digital social networks.” Thomas and her team have even expanded and attempted to explain that definition as have others. The key to understanding what is meant by the term seems to lie in its Latin root, “trans” meaning across, covering several areas or even an expanse of time. In this case covering a range of literacies. The definition of transliteracy seems to be still under consideration.
This leads to another question that researchers might well ask, “Is transliteracy a settled concept?” The answer seems to be no since the definition is still fluctuating. Some people feel that it is, while others feel it is simply a fleeting buzzword and momentary notion.
Further research questions include the following, “Are there other frameworks emerging alongside transliteracy that seek to understand and incorporate new digital media?”

Findings and Conclusions:
At the end of the article, Houtman concluded transliteracy like any other learning theory can be deictic. The meaning of the definition and concept can evolve over time. The framework was originally introduced to the library community in 2007 (p. 9). She pondered how much transliteracy has really changed over the years. Houtman questioned whether LIS professionals should continue adopting transliteracy if it is not recognized in other fields. She considered turning to other learning frameworks. It remained an unresolved issue.

She brought up new issues about the future role of librarians and information professionals in digital literacy. She expressed concerns that other fields ignore the value of libraries in society. They represent important institutions that facilitate long life learning in the community. Librarians should be active participants and contributors in constructing new forms of literacies. They are one of the stakeholders along with educators, policymakers and other groups. With emergence of new internet and computer technology, librarians will remain relevant in the digital age. Even though, millennials are digitally literate compared to previous generations, they have not fully developed the skills and knowledge to search for accurate information. Librarians have opportunities to educate current and future generations how to effectively search, access and evaluate information. New forms of technology will lead to new information seeking behaviors and search strategies.

Unanswered Questions:

Transliteracy is a difficult concept to grasp because there are many theories being pulled from a variety of frameworks that makes librarians wonder what is the better solution in utilizing the idea. Houtman, in the article, makes a valid point about the idea being too narrow, yet too broad and is trying to find a solution in balancing the equation. She states, “Too broad because it tries to encompass every aspect of human communication past, present, and future. Too narrow because it fails to take into account issues of importance to the library world, such as pedagogy and digital inclusion.” To explain this further, librarians want to use library resources that are useful and current to the today’s generation without overwhelming students with too many key point and concepts. Moreover, librarians want to simply see if students can think cognitively by navigating through a research database independently. Many questions arise on how to accomplish this fluidly, but also so that it will appeal to ESL learners.

Transforming Knowledge Creation: An Action Framework for Library Technology Diversity

Transforming Knowledge Creation: An Action Framework for Library Technology Diversity

Synopsis

The article focuses on forming an action framework, or plan, to increase diversity in library technology. The action framework developed consists of five dimensions, people, content and pedagogy, embeddedness and global perspective, leadership, and weaving it all together. The action framework is to be developed through knowledge creation. According to Dewey (2015), “the process of knowledge creation needs be inclusive and expansive if its purpose is to advance understanding, solve global problems, and advance the human condition” (p. 1).

Core Research Questions

Each dimension of the action framework has a diversity issue it was designed to improve. Dimension one, people, is designed to improve the lack of diversity and gender equity in computer and information students. Dimension two, content and pedagogy, is intended to improve the gaps in the content of academic libraries’ collection. Dimension three, embeddedness and global perspective, is designed to improve integration and understanding of other groups. Dimension four, leadership, is designed to have librarians play a leadership role by embracing people and their ideas. The fifth dimension, bringing everything together, is an approach to advance knowledge creation through thought, practice, and diverse cultural perspectives.

Methods Used to Answer the Research Question(s)

In dimension one, people; Dewey discusses the Penn State Library Diversity Residency Program. This program is a two-year program that allows graduates from “historically underrepresented groups” to be placed into a two-year academic library position (Dewey, 2015, p. 3). These placements allow the participants to “…develop collegial relationships with Penn State faculty members and provide support in a variety of ways for students” (Dewey, 2015, p. 4). If positions are available, residents of the program are encouraged to seek continued employment with the university after their initial two years.

Dimension two, content and pedagogy, discusses the University of Texas Libraries Human Rights Documentation Initiative, which is used to collect “radically different but critically important content and the importance of their use” (Dewey, 2015, p. 4). Dewey also looks at Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party, an exhibit permanently housed at the Brooklyn Museum. This exhibit provides insight into women’s culture from a feminist perspective.

Dimension three, embeddedness and the global perspective, Dewey (2015), emphasizes “’knowing’ from within groups, cultures, regions and perspectives” (p. 6). This involves looking at the framework from a “global perspective” and acknowledging “the broad context of scholarship, as well as the imperative for diverse perspectives and connections” (Dewey, 2015, p. 6). Looking at the framework from this point of view allows it to be seen with a more critical lens and allows for different perspectives.

Dimension four, leadership, discusses how a leader must be if they wish to be a part of the global framework of diversity. Dewey (2015) states “the leadership traits in dimension four are empathy, strategic vision, and commitment to collaboration” (p. 6). Without these characters, leaders will not be effective within the global framework.

Dimension five is about bringing all of the dimensions together and making the Framework for Library Technology Diversity. All of these dimensions, when brought together, create an effective framework for diversity in the library world.

Findings and Conclusions

Fostering diversity must be recognized as being a core component of the academic institution’s ongoing mission. Contending that knowledge creation is essential to keeping the institution’s libraries relevant, it is critical that this knowledge needs to be inclusive and expansive. In order to accomplish this, it is suggested that academic libraries and institutions must embrace and develop a strategy that addresses training and preparing library technology workers in order to meet the challenges of building and maintaining “a diverse, inclusive, and equitable institution” (Dewey, 2015, p. 1).

As a means of working to accomplish this, libraries must identify training needs and procedures for recruitment in order to develop and retain a knowledgeable staff regarding diversity and inclusion. The five dimensions, as part of the Framework for Library Technology Diversity, work to provide a basic foundation for achieving this goal. With challenges framed within the five dimensions, an approach is provided that will allow organizations to develop a plan of action for technology diversity in the library workplace.

Unanswered Questions You Have and What Future Research Might Address

While the dimensions of the framework are thorough, the article still leaves the question of how well this framework would perform once implemented. Implementation and its effects will not happen overnight, but even at a slow pace there is still a solution. As these dimensions are put into action, research can be done to assess how close each one is to achieving the desired results. Information also appears to be missing regarding how these implementations will be marketed to the community.

Many references are made to improving services for women, but lacks mention of other minority groups or poverty. Also, there is the question of how much input from diverse community members was gathered for the creation of the framework. Did the author do research to find out exactly what positions and programs are desired? Aside from the aforementioned feminist perspective, where else would the proposed indigenous knowledge come from? Most importantly, where will the new leadership come from, and how will the positive traits of that leadership be maintained? It may be important to address potential failures within the framework and how those failures would be handled, especially in regards to bad leadership.

The programs designed to increase diversity in the LIS field were well presented but seem heavily dependent on technology. What is being done to reach those without such capabilities, either by choice or circumstance? If technology is not central to a culture what will be done so it is not forgotten in the greater world of knowledge? Will the diverse hires be encouraged to bridge that gap more often than their non-diverse peers?

Future research must be focused on how the desired programs will be run. It is not wise to assume that applied diversity will result in instant and miraculous changes. What will be done to address existing bias, prejudice and discrimination? If the environment is not willing to welcome diversity, then the newly hired person will not feel comfortable and may leave. An overall adjustment of an organization’s structure is necessary if any of the article’s visions will be fulfilled. The article mentions the necessity of solid and positive leadership without suggesting what is to be done about present leadership. The obvious solution of creating leaders from diverse hires is not mentioned. What is being done to have more diverse library leaders and not just diverse LIS students or staff?

Furthermore, it would be wise to consider extending the time span of the program itself or to have multiple programs through which a person may advance. A long-term mentorship program that starts after graduation and through employment is one possible solution. This program would create a supportive and safe space for those of similar diverse backgrounds to make connections until more diversity is in place.

Critical Connections: Personal Learning Environments and Information Literacy

The core research question of the article, “Critical Connections: Personal Learning Environments and Information Literacy” that the authors are attempting to answer is: How can the implementation of personal learning environments and critical information literacies in the traditional research assignment facilitate and improve student learning and literacy? Personal learning environments (PLE) and critical information literacies (CIL) were developed by dissatisfied librarians in response to the inadequate filling of the needs of student learners (Hicks & Sinkinson, 2015, p. 3).

According to Atwell, personal learning environments are made up of “a collection of loosely coupled tools, including Web 2.0 technologies, used for working, learning, reflection and collaboration with others” (as cited in, Hicks & Sinkinson, 2015, p.3). PLEs are structured spaces that engage learners with the wider world of information, a space where they are free to communicate, create, and explore information alone or with a community of like-minded individuals. Luke and Kapitzke define critical information literacies as “a complex set of behaviors, attitudes and interactions that a learner adopts to engage critically in information landscapes” (as cited in, Hicks & Sinkinson, 2015, p.4). When used properly, CILs encourage learners to question and analyze information, specifically the sources of this information and the importance it could have on the global community of information seekers and learners.

The traditional research assignment fails to incorporate tools that actively engage learners with the information they are presented with or inquiring about. “Research assignments founded on PLEs and CILs encourage learners to examine entire systems of information from production through to distribution and dissemination” (Hicks & Sinkinson, 2015, p.10). Through this encouragement, learners become more active participants with the materials they are studying. Additionally, incorporating these concepts into the inquiry process allows students to reflect on the material after completing the assignment and evaluate what they have learned.

The new information landscapes, PLEs and CILs, must now be taken out of theoretical context and become practically applied in formal education. The effects of incorporating PLEs and CILs in student learning and research can range from altering student engagement with research methods to shifting the model of education toward new technologies and modalities not yet incorporated in formal education. Benefits to learners in this new environment are an increase of access to open resources, critical participation in actual content creation, practice in analyzing and interacting with material instead of merely consuming it, and a deeper understanding of the different meanings of knowledge.

Open resources go beyond traditional text, therefore learners in this environment will interact in an innovative and more engaging way with information. Openness allows for new pathways of learning connections (social media, information exchange, inquiry, dialogue) to be made that are not an innate aspect of text-only based learning. When tasked with creating content through the research process, students learn to analyze and interpret—and ideally question—information rather than accept authority as categorically valid.

Taking the theory of PLE and CIL and applying it to the classroom will pose challenges to both educators and learners. Educators must recognize new forms of knowledge, be willing to use them, modify their instruction model to incorporate them, teach learners how to access them, and embrace the idea that “Traditional research assignments fail to capture these broad and lived experiences of inquiry within modern information landscapes” (Hicks & Sinkinson, 2015, p. 5). Both educators and learners can find more satisfaction in the learning process by broadening the information landscape. In turn, scholarship will be transformed from a one-way information highway into a sea of flowing information of active participants. This transformation may include social discussion boards, blogs, wikis, and micropublishing; the challenge for both educators and learners is to perceive these new tools as valid for gaining knowledge. As some resources may be questionable, learners’ practiced skills of evaluation and the analytic process gained from this innovative model of learning will give them the ability to think critically and make appropriate choices.

Aside from any budget or physical limitations, the biggest barrier to inhibit successful exploration will happen at the staff level. In libraries many of the PLE and CIL learning take place in Makerspaces or Learning Labs that can be produced at a small or large scale through grant funding. Staff are at the heart of the function and success of these spaces. They are key to facilitating a fun and adequate learning environment in accordance with students’ changing needs. The rate at which technology advances and the changes that teaching roles will experience require staff who “must be learners themselves, who are flexible and able to adapt to the changing environment and technologies. They must facilitate learning for diverse users and be knowledgeable about theories of teaching and learning as well as user needs and behaviors” (Koh & Abbas, 2015, p. 114). Without proper staffing these spaces will be unsustainable and unsuccessful.

As learning systems continue to change and develop, it is important to step back and consider what components of the traditional approach should be protected and maintained. Traditional approaches now fall short of satisfying student needs because of its “inability to engage students authentically in conversation with other thinkers and writers…students fail to understand their own voice in inquiry as a conversation they can enter” (Hicks & Sinkinson, 2015, p.3). The components of information literacy to identify, locate and evaluate information are still important to maintain as the nature of information continues to change and mold itself into new forms. PLE and CIL learning is not abandoning traditional learning systems altogether, but rather creatively addressing shortcomings of traditional approaches. The biggest criticisms were based on how inquiry was taught. PLE and CIL move inquiry to the forefront and at a much earlier age when children are engaged authentically in a way relevant to their lives and realities.

References:

Attwell, G. (2010). Personal learning environments and Vygotsky. Retrieved from: http://www.pontydysgu.org/2010/04/personal-learning-environments-and-vygotsky

Hicks, A. & Sinkinson, C. (2015). Critical connections: Personal learning environments and information literacy. Research in Learning Technology, 23, p. 1-12. Retrieved from: http://www.researchinlearningtechnology.net/

Koh, K. & Abbas, J. (2015). Competencies for information professionals in learning labs and makerspaces. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 56(2), p. 114-129. Retrieved from: http://www.alise.org/

Luke, A. & Kapitzke, C. (1999). Literacies and libraries: Archives and cybraries. Pedagogy, Culture and Society, 7(3), p. 467-491. Retrieved from: http://www.tandfonline.com/

From school to work and from work to school: Information environments and transferring information literacy practices

“From school to work and from work to school: Information environments and transferring information literacy practices” James E. Herring
http://www.informationr.net/ir/16-2/paper473.html

Synopsis and core statement-Adrienne
In his article, “From School to Work and From Work to School: Information Environments and Transferring Information Literacy Practices,” James E. Herring utilizes a constructivist approach to evaluate the transfer of information literacy practices from school to the workplace among 14 year-old students in Scotland. Rather than identifying a set of research questions, the author employs grounded theory techniques in the study to explore the transfer of information literacy practices from school to the workplace.

The author reviews the literature related to information literacy practices and the transfer of this knowledge from one learning environment to the other. The literature review ultimately reveals the unique nature of the study in that it focuses on literacy practices of students completing work experience versus those that do not emphasize transfer to the workplace. The study examines the views of students and guidance teachers concerning the respective information environments. Herring explains his findings in the interviews of the participants prior to and during their workplace experience, the technology and formats of information utilized, and the contexts and environments in which they were used. Finally, the author reveals the results of the post-placement interviews and whether or not information literacy skills were transferred from the workplace to the school according to the methodological approach utilized and ultimate conclusions drawn.

Methods -Carla
As mentioned above, this study employed a constructivist approach to explore and develop interview questions. Based on his observations and scientific studies, Herring used knowledge, data collection, and analysis being learned by the individual to interpret the reality of the individual’s experience. The participants in this study were in their 10th year of secondary school. Ten students were selected out of eighty students who were going on work experience. Four guidance counselors were included in this study in order to have a balance of information environments; in this case both the school perspective and workplace perspective. Part of the method was to also have an element of stratified sampling, which the teachers selected students with experience in the work experience placement, small couturier business, large engineering firm, law courts, center for the elderly, and a veterinary practice. Part of their data collection was to conduct interviews with the students and counselors before and after the work experience. The researcher used initial and focused coding to analyze and interpret the data, and clearly discovered definite differences between the workplace and school environment for this sample of students.

Conclusions-Kai
Herring found that students perceived distinct differences in the information environments in the workplace versus those in their school. Some particular instances included person-to-person information gathering (more prevalent in the workplace), email usage (more prevalent in the workplace and the Internet (more prevalent in schools by students.) There were also questions that lingered in regards to the transfer of the skills learned. The guidance teachers diverged in their ability to discern if the skills learned were sustainable or short lived. It also seemed that initially the teachers did not completely understand the idea of an “information environment.” The study itself opened up their views on information environments and they agreed that focusing on information environments, specifically, in future studies would bolster the observations the students would be attuned to make during their work experience. Developing search skills were part of a larger discussion in which teachers thought would be an opportunity of focus in future work exchange opportunities.

Herring’s study found that the teens took the idea of information literacy for granted. It seems that people tend to view this idea as an ubiquitous and unfocused object. People, in general, seem to view information as necessary, but do not generally consider how they access, assess, transfer, understand or engage in information gathering practices. This article definitely opens up a larger discussion regarding how information should be perceived as well as explained to student populations that may be gathering information for various reasons.

Questions and future research-Mia
How do students from various demographic arenas compare/contrast with this small study of 10 Scottish students, and what impact does information literacy have upon their long term success?
How would the employees assess their own, as well as the students’ information literacy skills before and after the internship?
Do students universally think less of information literacy outside of school and in the work environment?
Is this a result of their lack of exposure and experiences, or simply due to their immaturity?
Is this an information literacy “problem” that begs correction? If so, how best to correct?
Who is responsible for teaching these skills when teachers are overburdened?
Is it up to the teacher librarian to recruit both teachers and students for lessons on information literacy? If so, how might this best be accomplished?
How is a beginner – average – and advanced user of information defined?
Do students with more advanced information literacy skills have an advantage over others?

“Future research in this area could replicate this study in a number of schools… Implications for the library and information sector are that teacher librarians might focus more on developing students’ ability to create effective search strategies” (Herring 17). It would be interesting to note what this ultimately means for the student and his/her academic and professional future based on the questions above.

Answers- Heather
In order to gain a more comprehensive view of students’ information literacy skills within the workplace, students from all demographics should be studied. A study used to research a larger number of students would yield more accurate results. I believe that students’ lack of knowledge regarding the importance of information skills is a universal issue. Students who have been taught information literacy skills regularly will see more of an importance for these skills. Without these vital skills, students will not be able to find the information they are looking for.

Further research must be done to prove how information literacy skills directly affects students in the workforce, however, teacher librarians, working collaboratively with K-12 instructors, offer critical skills that help students evaluate and synthesize information from multiple sources into a coherent piece of work. This research will make a case for consistent information literacy instruction throughout a student’s academic and professional career. With consistent instruction and practice, students, regardless of their demographic, will be prepared for college and career.