Tag Archives: 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?

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.


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

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.