Further Reading: Tim Fedak on literacies in higher ed

Happy Monday.   This week, I’m pointing you all to an insightful post by Tim Fedak, director of Distributed Medical Education at Dalhousie University.   Tim has written a great post on the nature of technology, literacies, and instruction in higher education.  I especially like his closing remarks:

There is a serious challenge facing the delivery of education in today’s technologically dominated media social landscape – our university leadership and faculty members have not been generally trained to speak, let alone be fluent in the languages of images and digital media.  The “teachers” and university leaders are fluent in text-based languages, not the image and digital literacies that are the dominant channels of information and communication today . . .

In the years to come images and digital media will continue to expand – how do we prepare our current students become fluent in the ways that will allow them to contribute to advance social well being?  How do we teach our learners to be visually and digitally literate?  Where are we giving them these skills?  As “teachers” how do we attain these new literacies?

Tim asks a lot of questions here, as most good blog posts do.  He raises a couple questions that librarians have been grappling with for some time now:

  • How do we communicate effectively with students who have are familiar with different modes of communication?
  • How do we teach critical thinking and research skills to students whose alphabets, vocabularies, and languages are visual more than they are textual?  What fundamental changes have occurred to research (and to teaching research) with the shift to the digital and the visual?
  • How do we keep up with these new technologies and literacies, ourselves?

So head to Tim’s blog:  read, and discuss.   You may also want to check out my previous post on transliteracies, which may have some useful links on the matter, too.


With Apologies to Albert Einstein and Steve Wheeler

Information Literacy, Transliteracy, and other literacies

[Note: I originally posted this on Dalhousie University’s School Of Information Management blog.  It’s only a few quick words meant to introduce others to one of the biggest information literacy debates in 2010/11.]

This winter and spring, the library blogosphere has buzzed around the idea of transliteracy, which broadly encompasses critical thinking and writing (or perhaps “synthesizing”) across a multitude of formats and devices.  You can read more about digital literacy at:

The incorporation of transliteracy into our definition of information literacy is either controversial or welcome news.  Some people see it only as the flavour of the month, while others believe that the arguments behind transliteracy should have been developed long ago and that librarians are still trying to catch up with the implications of our changed information society.   Regardless of what you believe, Bobbi Newman of the Libraries and Transliteracy blog must be commended for starting an information literacy discussion that has asked our profession what we do as instructors, what it is we instruct, and how we well may be doing it.
Personally, I see a lot of merit in broadening our understanding of IL to incorporate the arguments made by transliteracy advocates.  However, I also worry that we may be spending too much time thinking about what to call our paradigms instead of properly researching their implications and incorporating them into practice.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve always considered myself to be “tech-savvy”, but I’ve always believed that our notions of information literacy would naturally incorporate information regardless of its medium, both before and after it’s synthesized into knowledge.  Whether we call this subject “transliteracy” or “information literacy,” our focus must be on improving (information) literacy levels amoung our users.  As librarians, we don’t “teach” information literacy so much as we teach people how to find and evaluate information effectively, and how to improve people’s ability to turn that information into their own knowledge.

Having said all that, I believe that transliteracy is a subject that should be followed by any librarian who is concerned with how their patrons interact with their materials.  Thus far, transliteracy has produced incredible research and opinion within LIS.  It’s given us a chance to share our expertise and opinion on education and pedagogy with a wider community of scholars and practitioners.  Don’t forget the term, “transliteracy.”  It’s not just a buzzword, and it has implications that are here to stay.

Zeds Library News, August 8, 2010

Last week I decided to start compiling interesting news stories in Tech and Library Science together in one weekly post as a way to share links with other librarians and to build stronger communities.  This is this week’s version: The Zeds Library News, August 8, 2010:

  • Right off the top, Tiffini Travis takes her iPad for a test-run at Immersion 2010 and finds that it’s a viable laptop replacement.  Tiffini had to download one or two affordable apps and did work with a wireless keyboard, but I don’t think this is too different from purchasing MS Office and using a mouse with your laptop.  Is the iPad  a laptop killer?  Maybe not yet, but Tiffini makes clear that this kind of tech is what the future classroom experience is made of.
  • Bobbi Newman offers a lecture and Q&A on libraries and Transliteracy.  This hour-long presentation, offered by the Nebraska Library Commissions’ NCompass Live, is worth watching if you’re involved at all with information literacy.  Transliteracy 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 film, to digital social networks.” Bobbie shows how this ought to be squared off in several forms of librarianship. (I know this is something I’m going to write more about in the future.)
  • On the (information) literacy front, The Chronicle puts the spotlight on academic blended librarianship by interviewing Mark McBride, at SUNY’s Buffalo State.  Blended Librarianship “combines traditional reference skills with hardware and software know-how and [has] an interest in applying them to curriculum development and teaching”; the threads between transliteracy and IL are all over the place. (Check out the Blended Librarian website here.)
  • Rupert Colley wonders how e-books traffic is properly measured today.  What can gate counts actually account for when we encourage more and more people to access library materials online?   This is food for thought since I’m considering how to measure library tutorials beyond website click-through’s right now.
  • Peter Godwin links us to the Research Information Network (RIN) report on academic researchers and Web 2.0, which studies in part how information professionals should mediate research and researchers in a Web 2.0 landscape.  (Godwin’s blog should be required reading for anyone working in information literacy, by the way.)