Tag Archives: digital literacy

“The Online Life of Individuals Experiencing Socioeconomic Disadvantage: How Do They Experience Information?”

Article Authored By: Amanda Hencz, Megan Carbiener, Marisol Carrasquillo, Laura Downs, Kayla Jackson

Reviewed by: Amanda Hencz

Link to article: http://www.informationr.net/ir/22-3/paper768.html

Article synopsis and description of how this article represents an international perspective.
The Online Life of Individuals Experiencing Socioeconomic Disadvantage: How do They Experience Information, takes a look into how individuals experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage in Australia experience information. The authors reiterate that having access to information online and knowing how to understand what is available can increase the opportunities afforded them. Phenomenology was used to look at two participants through interviews and results show that there is a link between being socioeconomically disadvantaged and not having the proper skills to navigate the internet effectively, leaving them further disadvantaged. The authors also argue that this information could greatly benefit other organizations that work with this population. This small study was based in Australia, but the overall assertion is that for a person to benefit from online use, then there needs to be a higher level of digital literacy.
Core research question(s).
As homelessness is on the rise, we have to assume there is not a way for them to have open access to obtain information. Therefore we as information professionals would like to find ways to provide access. Our research question is:
How can library professionals assist individuals that are experiencing homelessness obtain information?
By providing the homeless population with access to the internet so they can submit resumes, go on job interviews, take online classes to better their education, or simply to find a shelter near them. We are offering them a better chance to overcome the situation they are in. Not only do we have to offer the devices we have to offer support for use on how to utilize it to their own. Since libraries are closed we could start by going to shelters and giving them access to computers or tablets for a short period of time. While we are there we can ask questions, such as: do you know how you can benefit from internet use? Then we can show them how to email and how to research job listings.
Methods used to answer the research question(s).
In our article, the researchers used the methodological approach of Phenomenology to study the lived experience of this phenomenon – those experiencing homelessness and a lack of online information access. I found that this method worked especially well when studying individual lifestyles because it can be difficult to fully empathize or understand the holistic experience of these individuals without evaluating a broader amount of the lived experience of the socially excluded. Through this phenomenological study, the researchers collected data from these individuals in order to try to piece together their experience. A series of interviews with multiple people allowed the researchers to gain personal insight into the lives of those experiencing homelessness while also experiencing a digital divide. Having access to the internet is much more than Googling or scrolling through social media. Online access allows people to stay connected with the world around them, build their identity, and discover news and information. Without consistent and reliable internet access, these people with housing challenges are unable to fully participate in our modern, digital age. Through this method and study, the researchers found that this group of individuals experiencing homelessness understand the essential yet inadequate amount of information space they have exposure to.
Findings and conclusions.
From their study, the authors present four themes: the endless information journey; uncontrolled information space; inadequate information space; essential information space. The participants likened finding information online to an “endless journey”, with both positive and negative aspects. The convenience and practical information that was available are the positives, while the “uncontrolled information space” is a negative. Concerns about “fake” and inappropriate information were brought up by the participants. The online information space was considered inadequate because of the complexity of information and the negative interaction with organizations online. Despite this, the internet (accessed via smartphones) is an essential information space, as it holds all their personal information, and provides access to anything they need to know. Through this study, the authors found that public libraries may not be connecting with this group of community members, as they did not consider it a trustworthy place, or a place that could help them with their information needs. The authors conclude that access to the internet and the information it holds is not enough to address this digital divide. An understanding of the holistic experience of people experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage and how community organizations interact with them will offer deeper insight into how effectively support this group.
What American libraries can learn from global practice about designing services for diverse populations.
American libraries can use research from countries around the world to help provide a better environment for their particular homeless community. There could be immigrants among their homelessness as well. Being able to communicate among these residents and having them feel included within the library setting is the goal. The research approach in the study was known as phenomenological which “brought a fresh perspective to the socioeconomic disadvantage by focusing on the information experience of those affected”(Smeaton, 2017). Using research provided from global studies could bring about better services designed for the diverse populations within a library’s community because this provides thought provoking ideas that might not have been considered prior.

Kathleen Smeaton, Christine S. Bruce. “The Online Life of Individuals Experiencing
Socioeconomic Disadvantage: How Do They Experience Information?” (202,Sept)Information Research: an International Electronic Journal. Information Science, Information Management, Information Systems, Information Retrieval, Digital Libraries, Information Seeking Behaviour, Information Seeking Behavior, World Wide Web, WWW, University of Borås, www.informationr.net/ir/22-3/paper768.html

Digital literacy and digital inclusion TeachMeets in London and Leeds

Reviewed By: Kathleen Heslop, Jason Patrone, Jamie Westfold

Link to article: https://ojs.lboro.ac.uk/JIL/article/view/CC-V10-I1-2/2317

Article synopsis:
The article is a summary of meetups organized by two independent non-profits who champion digital information literacy, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals’s Information Literacy Group (ILG) and the Tinder Foundation, a UK based charity that promotes positive digital use. The Tinder Foundation has since been renamed the Good Things Foundation. The goal of the two organizations was to bring different types of libraries together to discuss how libraries can utilize resources to assist older patrons, keep up with new technologies and policy changes. The meetup tackled issues specific to the UK, such as welfare reform and assisting seniors navigate it, in addition to international issues. Most libraries will have aging populations and increasing technological demands, therefore the topics have universal appeal.

Core research question:
The UK government has developed an equity program known as the Government Digital Strategy whose goal is to make all government services accessible online in a manner that is usable by all communities. The service is marketed with the tagline Digital by Default: “digital services that are so straightforward and convenient that all those who can use them will choose to do so whilst those who can’t are not excluded” (Cabinet Office, 2012). The TeachMeets tech conferences were held in order to discuss these practical, everyday information needs echoing the government’s Digital by Default message: How can access to basic government and community services be more inclusive?

Research Methods:
The participants in the conferences represented three library types: public, academic, and ‘further education’ (high school) who voted and settled on six topics to be covered. Short, peer-led presentations were followed by longer discussions of the six themes. Certain trends emerged from the discussions: establishing sub-themes, identifying barrier to implementation, examining case studies, and sharing best practices. The meeting format is useful for different library staff members to share ideas or experiences. It identifies concerns, challenges and solutions another location may have already found. Post-event evaluations expressed praise for the communal, self-led, sharing framework; it was obvious that the librarians enjoyed collaborating with peers rather than being lectured to by outside ‘experts’ or consultants. Complaints about the conferences’ methodology pointed towards perceived domination of the further education contingent as well as too much time spent discussing academic rather than (one can assume) practical concern. The fact that many participants complained about the conferences being too short is a final testament to their overall success (Tinder Foundation, 2016).

Findings and conclusions:
The studies ultimately determined that three historically disenfranchised populations should be targeted for inclusivity efforts: the elderly, non-native English speakers, and the poor. The discussion of accessibility for the elderly touched on personal computer skills. The example was given of an older person who is accustomed to using a public computer and therefore has immediate help if needed. However, when they get a personal computer, they are faced with tech tasks they never learned (physical set up, installing updates, contacting ISP’s, etc). Libraries could provide small groups or one on one sessions to teach elderly patrons about new technology. Libraries should empower older patrons to use technology either through showcases or bringing digital books to homebound patrons in file form. English language learners’ access to social media was another concern: how do they access untranslated sites in public spaces? Finally, UK residents who relied on public assistance are forced to adjust to new welfare laws (Universal Credit / Jobcentres) pushing them into more of a ‘workfare’ system. This population is now being asked to apply to jobs online, so more training in web forms is needed.
Three other conclusions were reached relating more to staff than patrons:
1) Volunteers: use to cover different areas and give more in depth assistance, use more in a relationship-building ways, such as delivering books to homebound patrons, leading workshops, or as one-on-one tutors. Having knowledgeable volunteers to give in depth technological assistance to the public would be an invaluable resource; however, it might be difficult to find volunteers with the necessary skills to teach the technology;
2) Other technology: libraries should offer devices other than desktop computers, including tablets, smartphones, and “Breezies.”
3) Tech training: again, since more and more patrons are bringing their own devices to libraries, staff should know how to access library services on them and should be trained in troubleshooting a variety of mechanisms. Libraries should create opportunities for their staff to experience and learn more about available technology. If the library can create a culture of exploration and experimentation with new technologies their employees will feel more comfortable assisting patrons, even if they are unfamiliar with the device.

What Can American Libraries Learn?
Many of the issues discussed in the TeachMeets could be applied to international communities and are not limited to the UK. Most American public libraries have to deal with some sort of digital divide, whether that is due to having an elderly community, non-Native English speakers, or economically disadvantaged residents. Any of the theories discussed by the TeachMeets might be easily put into practice at a library in the United States. US libraries should understand that many of their patrons have practical information needs. Sure, many patrons approach the reference desk with esoteric, trivial queries, but vulnerable communities may not have the luxury of spending time musing on obscure topics.

Cabinet Office. (2012). Government digital strategy. Retrieved from https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/296336/Government_Digital_Stratetegy_-_November_2012.pdf

Tinder Foundation. (2016). What place does digital inclusion have in digital literacy? Tinder Foundation/CILIP ILG TeachMeet facilitator summary report. Retrieved from https://www.goodthingsfoundation.org/sites/default/files/research-publications/teachmeetfacilitatorreportfebruary2016.pdf

Sex differences in attitudes towards online privacy and anonymity among Israeli students with different technical backgrounds

Reviewed By: Sarah Potter, Esther Kim, Erin Oakden, Mariah Ramsour, Keshia Nash-Johnson

Link to article: http://informationr.net/ir/22-4/paper777.html

1. Article Synopsis
This article investigates the differences in online anonymity and privacy behavior between men and women among Israeli students with varying technical backgrounds. The purpose is to comparatively model men and women’s online privacy attitudes, and to assess the online privacy gender gap. To understand the inter-influence of different factors, assessment of men and women’s awareness of two types of threats against their online anonymity and privacy level are addressed: the technological threat such as technology that enables surveillances, detection of a user’s identity and personal details on the Web and the social threat such as exposure of a user’s identity and personal details on the Web.

The study also examines the male and female differences regarding protection of personal information on the Web, especially on social networks as well as lack of online privacy self-efficacy. Each user was measured on their familiarity level and actual usage of anonymity tools available on the Web. The study conducted considered both online privacy literacy tools and privacy literacy skills used by social users.

Male and female differences in user tendency to engage in privacy paradox behavior was also examined. For example, if a user preferred to utilize the malleability of the Internet at the expense of information security, despite concern for their online privacy.

The literature review examines the digital gap between the sexes. For example, sex differences in computer and Internet literacy, self-efficacy, and online seeking behavior, as well as previous studies related to online privacy, anonymity, and self-disclosure. The subsequent literature conclusively notes a disparity, a term some call the knowledge gap hypothesis, where behavior and attitudes do not coincide.

This study is helpful in determining a comprehensive framework for research pertaining to sex differences across a variety of factors related to privacy behavior and online anonymity. It is also the first study to investigate these issues among Israeli students who are from different academic backgrounds. The research found has important implications in regards to Internet education and reducing the digital divide among the sexes. The social and technological dimensions explored in the study also give insight into the wider contexts of cyber security, protection of personal data, and online information literacy—all of which are important topics that can relate to the international experience.

2. Core Research Questions
This study addressed five research questions relating to gender, technological safety, and privacy:
1. Are there differences in men’s and women’s awareness of technological and social anonymity threats on the Web?
2. Are there differences in men’s and women’s concern for the protection of personal information on social and non-social Websites?
3. Are there differences in men’s and women’s online privacy self-efficacy and technological and social online privacy literacy?
4. Are there differences in men’s and women’s tendency to engage in privacy paradox behavior?
5. Does higher technological online privacy literacy decrease users’ tendency to engage in privacy paradox behavior?

3. Methods
To answer the research questions, this study conducted a questionnaire with 169 Israeli college students from two colleges, Bar-Ilan University and Jerusalem College of Technology, and three departments: accounting and business management studies, information science studies, and computer science and engineering. Seventy-one men and ninety-eight women answered a forty-question survey on online privacy. The survey was broken down into six sections asking questions relating to: participant demographics, awareness of threats to technological and social anonymity, concerns for safeguarding personal information online, effectiveness of ability to protect online privacy, knowledge on technological and social online privacy, and tendencies to engage in “privacy paradox behavior.”

4. Findings and Conclusions
A comparative model was used to summarize users’ attitudes towards online anonymity and privacy and it was found that women have more social awareness online, while men have more technical awareness. Despite the closing of this gap in technological knowledge, men still have an advantage over women in relation to technology, as they have an awareness of the technological threat that resides online and have a higher online privacy literacy level.
There were four aspects of online privacy and anonymity that were analyzed:
1. Sex differences with regard to the general awareness of limited anonymity on the Web using several measures of technological and social threat awareness
2. Sex differences with regard to the level of concern for protecting personal information on both general and social networks
3. Sex differences in users’ levels of online privacy self-efficacy and online privacy literacy (technical and social)
4. Sex differences with regard to privacy paradox behavior

Women’s ability to effectively manage their online privacy in the digital age is integral to their ability to protect private information such as health information, educational information, financial information, political views, and consumption patterns. Further research is needed that generalizes the proposed methodology in this study and uses a more diverse subject group (age, education level, occupation types, cultural backgrounds, and countries of origin). The authors also suggested that further steps be taken in the future such as implementing policy intervention and educational programs on online privacy, anonymity awareness, and digital literacy so that we can eventually eliminate the inter-sex technological gap.

5. Informing American Library Program Design from Global Practices
The literature, relative research, and results of this study indicate a need for educational programming on digital literacy with an emphasis on security and privacy. The study established that the participants had varying levels of concern about what is being disclosed through their online activity. Although the focus group of this study consisted of Israeli male and female students, it is likely that these concerns are not limited to this population. Therefore, American libraries should not only provide secured online access, but libraries should also provide education about what that means. All internet users should feel confident in their knowledge of what information is at risk and how to protect themselves from inadvertent disclosures of personal information. This program could be very successful at both public and academic libraries, but could be appropriate for all environments that emphasize the importance of information literacy.

Library 2.0, information and digital literacies in the light of the contradictory nature of Web 2.0

Reviewed By: Sherrie Bullard, Michael Hober, Heidi Scheidl, Kayleigh Septer

Link to article: http://www.webology.org/2010/v7n2/a78.html

Article synopsis and core research question(s)

In this article, Koltay (2010) attempts to find connections and differences between professional and amateur content generation in Web 2.0 environments. The paper begins with the hypothesis “that raising awareness of differences between professional content and content produced by the amateurs of Web 2.0 is of extraordinary importance in providing adequate library services, be it in the form of offering content services or information literacy (IL) and digital literacy (DL) education” (Koltay, 2010, para. 1). It is also argued that while technological developments are interesting and libraries enjoy being as close to the cutting edge as they can get, it must continue to be the user’s needs that determine the adoption of new technology.

The article begins by looking at Web 2.0 technology and why it is so commercially successful. It also examines Web 2.0’s connection to amateurism due to the ease with which users can participate. This is contrasted to the professional and educational uses that Web 2.0 provides for librarians and libraries. The importance of IL and DL in different contexts is also considered, such as the importance of engaging in formal IL instruction in academic library settings where an analytic style of information seeking and use is appropriate. However, in public library settings it is more acceptable to facilitate a pragmatic style of information use.

Methods used to answer the research question

The research method that Koltay used to answer the research question is desk research, also known as secondary research. This research method is the gathering and analyzing of information that is readily available in print or published on the internet. Secondary research has been proven to be very time and cost effective because it helps to obtain the large spectrum of information in a shorter span of time and for a lesser cost than primary research.

Many different types of sources were used to find literature that the author could use to support the research question. Peer reviewed articles from professional journals and professional associations that were in print and online and professional blogs were used to find literature. Most of the information is from the United States. However, the author used a few articles of information from other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Italy and Hungary. The author uses these diverse sources to try to find a balance view of Web 2.0. Although, the author does point out that having a “critical attitude helps to identify the most useful tools that can serve library goals and is the basis for providing adequate information literacy and digital literacy education” (Koltay, 2010, para. 2).

The author set out to investigate the main features of Web 2.0 that contributes to its commercial success, the question of amateurism, and the difference between amateur and professional contents. The role of amateur and professional content in library services, IL and DL and in Library 2.0 were also examined.

Findings & conclusions

As previously mentioned, the purpose of this article was “to prove the hypothesis that raising awareness of differences between professional content and content produced by the amateurs of Web 2.0 is of extraordinary importance in providing adequate library services…” (Koltay, 2010, para. 1). The author understands that “there is no single literacy that is appropriate for all people or for one person over all their lifetime” (Koltay, 2010, para. 31). He also realizes that literacies are changing and require “constant updating of concepts and competencies in accordance with the changing circumstances of the information environment” (Koltay, 2010, para. 31). It should also be noted that when public libraries use Web 2.0 as a service, that the tools that are a part of Web 2.0 “can and should be used for different purposes according to differential user needs” (Koltay, 2010, para. 32).

The concept that patrons should have is an awareness of whether they are using the Web 2.0 services for a scholarly need, or purely for entertainment should also be emphasized. Ultimately Koltay (2010) finds that “…the pragmatic style is compatible with amateurism, thus has a place in public library environments, while the analytic style is the ideal for academic users and literacies geared toward their needs should show preferences to this information style” (para. 30). Public libraries have so much to offer their patrons, and by providing their patrons with the knowledge of how to correctly analyze and critically evaluate these tools can prove to be not only beneficial for the library as digital and information literacy teachers, but for the patrons themselves.

Unanswered questions you have and what future research might address. &
A thoughtful attempt to answer your own questions

Upon evaluating this article, one major question came to mind: What are the most useful tools and how might librarians use them in order to assist users in creating more analytical and professional Web 2.0 content? If libraries make use of Web 2.0 tools, they have the opportunity to develop a presence in the every-day lives of their users by connecting and sharing via various online networks.

Some useful Web 2.0 tools might include: blogs (WordPress, Blogger), wikis, podcasts, social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn), image sharing (Instagram, Flickr), and video sharing (YouTube, Vimeo).

Libraries have the opportunity to enhance IL and DL competencies within the user community by way of distributing tutorials using Web 2.0 tools for construction and delivery. This activity might promote more professional Web 2.0 content from their users. Tutorials can be cross-promoted on various social networking pages associated with the library.

Libraries might host IL and DL screencasts on video sharing sites and share the link across other sites, or create interactive tutorials, such as Guide on the Side (GOTS), in order to assist users with navigating virtual resources while they are utilizing them. GOTS offer a valuable constructivist learning experience. Topics might be: tips for searching databases, evaluate sources for bias, make a blog, create a LinkedIn profile, use social media and exhibit “Netiquette”, ethical use of information (copyright and fair-use), guide to web resources that assist children in developing early literacy skills. These activities can help librarians instruct users on IL and digital DL while using Web 2.0 tools.

For further thought: As we move toward Library 3.0, how might the further development of the Semantic Web (or Web 3.0) and its environment of linked data change and enhance the way in which the library can integrate itself into the daily lives of its user-base in terms of information literacy instruction?

Web 2.0 and New Learning Paradigms

Reviewed By: Melissa Feinberg, Tammy Molloy, Nate Nielsen, Kristan Ramos

Link to article: http://www.lmi.ub.es/personal/bartolome/articuloshtml/08elearningPap.pdf

Bartolomé, A. (2008, April). Web 2.0 and New Learning Paradigms. Retrieved from http://www.lmi.ub.es/personal/bartolome/articuloshtml/08elearningPap.pdf


Advancements in technology and the transformation of the internet towards Web 2.0 has lead to new educational ideas known as eLearning 2.0. Changes in old curriculum have been compared to the new paradigm for distance education within a technology enhanced environment.

Changes in old curricula:
The Net as a multi-device system allows changes in studying at any place and time.
Flexibility between iPods and computers for learning tasks is a technical and irrelevant question, implying learning occurs at any time such as walking and traveling.

While recently developed changes occurring at institutions and businesses using eLearning is skeptical, the near future is hopeful to use eLearning 2.0 as a commercial promotion tactic that encompasses Web 2.0 in educational courses without business control access and knowledge authority. At the same time, distance learning attributes should be characteristic in non-formal education in order to end the separation between living and learning.

Core Question: “Where are the new paradigms?”

Although the lack of a formative definition of Web 2.0 indicates that it has been used and shows a connection between distance education courses and Web 2.0 elements, there is little to no impact on the structure of the old learning paradigms that new curriculum is built upon. The acceptable structure is oriented towards document distribution and production including video-sharing, blogs, and wikis, while courses with eLearning elements are not currently applicable to information management tools including social bookmarking and tags.


Bartolomé breaks down the concepts that form Web 2.0 and what the future holds for eLearning. The article is organized into three sections that (1) describe Web 2.0, (2) the types of Web 2.0 resources used within eLearning, and (3) new paradigm platforms for eLearning. Breaking down the constructs of Web 2.0, provides analytical structure and meaning to this technology trend.

Web 2.0 – To understand Web 2.0, it must be divided into what it is and what it is not. Bartolomé explains the characteristics of Web 2.0 and the comparison from Web 1.0.

Web 2.0 resources found in eLearning courses – This section analyses the structures within Web 2.0 that may be found in the eLearning environments, such as, Wikis, Blogs, RSS readers, and so on. Bartolomé references scholars and other personnel to understand how each resource provides eLearning capability.

New paradigms – After comparing Web 2.0 with 1.0, and explaining the individual learning tools for Web 2.0; Bartolomé predicts the future of the Web 2.0 platform through past and present references. New paradigms for Web 2.0 are portrayed within this section to expand the eLearning environment.

Bartolomé references the research and theories from other scholars and journals to create a comprehensive argument about the eLearning environment within the Web 2.0 platform. The new paradigms referenced throughout this paper are theories; however they possess possible solutions for an expanding Web 2.0 platform and eLearning environments.

Conclusions and Findings

In our technologically driven environment today we are more dependent on Web 2.0 resources than most of us realize. Many users of the Web 2.0 resources don’t realize they are using resources in their everyday life that are categorized under a technologically advance concept. Although we as everyday laymen users are skilled in these resources, our learning environments are becoming more of a model for how to utilize these resources to their best benefit to the end-user.
Our end-users include teachers, students, corporate trainings, and business professionals. Web 2.0 is no longer just a Snapchat or a Facebook post, it is now a technological model utilized for various purposes such as education and corporate training in many domains.
Web 2.0 being mostly based on a learning theory that can offer online access from anywhere, once being more of a social networking collaborative effort, is now being catapulted into the future as a collaborative learning, teaching, and effective business tool for all users in many capacities under many domains.

Unanswered questions you have and what future research might address

As we all now know, web 2.0 has effectively taken over the web. Wikis, blogs, video and picture sharing platforms are now the norm on the web. Although one could still find the old model of expert to novice information sharing, this model is continuously shrinking in favor of broad information collaboration. While we were given a thorough description of the web 2.0 paradigm, and how it may affect learning, the article leaves a number of unanswered questions, these unknowns will benefit future research. Future research should do its’ best to answer the questions regarding the continued growth of web 2.0, its effects of learning models and what’s in store. Some questions that might guide future research include:
How are educators using web 2.0 technology in the physical classroom and are they keeping pace with the e-learning environment?
Have schools developed learning models to teach technical and digital literacy to prepare students? Are e-educated students more digitally and informationally literate than physical classroom taught students?
What effects has the growth of web 2.0 had on student learning?
Now that we have seen / used / participated in web 2.0, what comes next? What is the next development?
Researchers who look into these and other questions will show how learning modules have evolved and adapted. They will be able to describe new learning paradigms, how educators and institutions have harnessed the web 2.0 and the impacts it has had. They will put themselves into a position to answer the ever important question of what comes next.

Digital Curation and Education

By Carla Axume, Adrienne Domasin, Mia Faulk, Kai Forsley, and Heather Poundstone

Link to article: http://www.digitalcultureandeducation.com/cms/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/dce1028_black_2010.pdf

Digital Curation and Education
Black, R. (2010) The language of Webkinz: Early childhood literacy in an online virtual world. University of California, Irvine. Online Publication 31 May 2010.

A- Article synopsis and core research question(s)- Adrienne
In this article the author intends to fill a gap in the research on virtual worlds intended for early childhood populations. Using the popular and frequently visited virtual space Webkinz World as a case study, Rebecca Black analyzes the content in the Webkinz World in an effort to determine the viability of the content as it pertains to language development and childhood literacy, as well as whether the content is appropriate for the learning processes among the intended age groups. Black concluded that the design of Webkinz World is limited in its learning outcomes and literacy learning initiatives due to its profit-driven nature and Internet security safeguards both of which inhibit language development. Black also indicates that the socio-cultural messages promoted within the Webkinz World necessitate a thorough examination because the life lessons promoted in the interface do not engage the daily learning and development of children in a realistic manner. Black seeks to demonstrate the shortcomings of the Webkinz World site in order to inform parents of children interacting in this virtual world of the literacies that are actually being used versus those that are marketed by Webkinz World. The author also seeks to inform educators and literacy researchers of any attitudinal shifts from children interacting in these virtual spaces and their learning behavior in the classroom environment.

B- Methods used to answer research question(s)-Carla
The method employed in this case study approach is based on data gathered from participant observations and a qualitative content analysis. Part of this analysis also deals with a cross case analysis of the literacy and developmental features of several Shared Virtual Environments focusing on early childhood populations. Black was able to gather data by creating a map of the site content and gathering information from the rules, frequently asked questions, tutorials, activities, and the collection of artifacts. From this point, the content analysis was conducted using open ended, qualitative protocol, and literacy related artifacts of the site. The participant observations were aimed at gaining a sense of navigation, communication, and gameplay in the Shared Virtual Environment. Part of the analysis included a game called Webkinz, which are stuffed animals that come with a unique code in order for the player to have access to Webkinz world in the SVE. Here children are able to participate by purchasing items to furnish their pets room, food, toys and clothes. Overall, the online multimodal format of the site provides children with access to new literacy providing language development, social meanings, values and life lessons.

C- Findings and conclusions- Kai
With any new type of literacy, there will be learning curves. Within Shared Virtual Environments (SVE), there are many opportunities to engage the spatial abilities of visitors to the site. Rebecca Black praises the prospect of SVEs being useful communication tools. Specifically looking at online platforms, like Webkinz World, there are some concerns. First, there are benefits including gaining hands-on computer technology experiences in terms of learning how to navigate an online environment and navigating the computer’s hard and software. However the content and interactions with the content seems to be of concern. There are blatant consumerist practices and direct marketing to youth. The term “immersive advertising” is used to describe the constant bombardment of advertising mechanisms to the user. Within Webkinz World, there seems to be a specified correlation between well-being in the virtual world and actual financial expenditures, which Black believes does not activate the best use of a literacy tool effectively. Black seems to conclude that while many positive attributes can be extracted from the model of SVEs like Webkinz World, the overall execution of this one may not be in the best interest of the user. The positives include direct learning in terms grammar, reading and as well as other traditional literacies, as well as contextualized learning that happens as you traverse the scenarios in the game. Nevertheless, Black believes that corporate develops, not educators, are creating content for SVE tools such as Webkinz. This divergence between “useful tool” and “tainted content” seems to be apparent in Webkinz World. She also concludes that the digital literacies employed within SVEs should be actual digital literacies and not simply traditional literacies captured in digital format, thus providing the user with an optimal learning experience.

D-Unanswered questions you have and what future research might address-Mia
More research is needed on, “…how children’s activities, relationships, and immediate social and cultural contexts affect their learning and development” (Black, 8). Today’s young students are operating in a cyberspatial-postindustrial mindset, so:
What will these students need most to be successful within these spaces?
How do adults set about understanding the “social and cultural contexts of these spaces, as well as the tensions between new and traditional literacies as they shape, influence, and even curtail children’s learning” (Black, 9)?
Are these commercialized spaces, with marketing messages, detrimental to kids?
Have we entered a dimension of A Brave New World where children are being conditioned to think within prescribed limits?
Is this a coercive quasi dictatorship, telling kids what they should think vs. allowing them to create and think freely? “While there are ample opportunities for early readers and writers to be immersed in contextualized print, there are far fewer opportunities for early readers and writers to engage deeply with literacy materials and develop expressive language skills” (Black, 14).
Future research should address how to create the best online learning environment for young children that is much more robust, interactive, and engaging, rather than reverting to traditional literacy methods.

E- A thoughtful attempt to answer your own questions- Heather
Students will need several things to be able to successfully navigate sites such as Webkinz, the most important being literacy and technology skills. Online tutorials would be helpful to guide students through the various components of the site. Adults must understand the importance of new literacies and their importance in children’s literacy development. They must engage in sites like Webkinz in order to understand how to support students. Sites like Webkinz should exercise caution with the marketing messages they allow so that children are protected. For instance, advertisements that promote junk food should not be allowed. There should be a minimum amount of marketing for the children who have already purchased the stuffed animal. There could be an option to allow children access to the site without purchasing the animal. Webkinz does somewhat condition children to think within prescribed limits due to the safety measures in place that do not allow students to creatively add their own dialogue. This site could expand on its creative aspect by allowing students to create their own animals, attributes, stories, videos, etc. in order to allow them to think and explore freely.

Tags- Webkinz, childhood literacy, virtual worlds, literacy, early childhood, language development, children, social network, learn, play, digital literacy, new literacies, Webkinz World, Shared virtual environments, SVE, SVEs, direct instruction, online gaming, consumerism, digital learning, internet safety, child development

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

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.

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.