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Digital Libraries and Information Literacy Issues within Virtual Learning Environments: An e-Learning Impasse?


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Title: Digital Libraries and Information Literacy Issues within Virtual Learning Environments: An e-Learning Impasse?

Digital Libraries and Information Literacy Issues
within Virtual Learning Environments An
e-Learning Impasse?
  • George Macgregor,
  • Centre for Digital Library Research,
  • Department of Computer Information Science,
  • University of Strathclyde
  • http//
  • Lou McGill,
  • Learning Technologist (DIDET Project),
  • Department of Learning Services,
  • University of Strathclyde
  • http//

  • The debate what is a VLE?
  • The components in which learners and tutors
    participate in online
  • interactions of various kinds, including online
    learning (JISC, 2002)
  • Information literacy often underpins the
    pedagogical merits of many VLEs
  • VLE models constantly in transition

DIDET Project
  • DIDET Digital Libraries for Global Distributed
    Innovative Design, Education Teamwork
  • Digital Libraries in the Classroom NSF/JISC
    funding stream with multi-disciplinary teams
  • DIDET approach unique
  • Digital library management by students
  • What are the issues?
  • Does such a VLE approach question the
    effectiveness of current IL models?

Digital Libraries VLEs DIDET rationale
  • DIDET aim
  • enhance student learning opportunities by
    enabling them to partake in global, team based
    design engineering projects, in which they
    directly experience different cultural contexts
    and access a variety of digital information
    sources via a range of appropriate technology
    (DIDET, 2003, p.4).
  • Reflects demands of the global product design
    development marketplace and creative design
  • Desirable to expose HE students to such a reality
    and resonates with a shift towards project based
    learning (PBL)

LauLima Group of People Working Together
  • LauLima VLE digital library platform
  • Extensively customised TikiWiki software
  • Comprises 2 elements
  • LauLima Learning Environment (LLE) - informal
  • LauLima Digital Library (LDL) - formal

Hierarchical File Gallery in the LLE
Digital Library Metadata Workflows
  • Metadata the preserve of librarians?
  • Metadata Workflow needed to make LDL scalable and
  • LDL based on Dublin Core
  • DC resonated with the nature of the content
  • Lack of cataloguing support for more developed
  • Complex schemas would eliminate interaction by
    students and academics
  • Project sustainability

Illustration of LauLima Metadata Workflow
Information Literacy e-Learning Impasse
  • CILIP definition (CILIP, 2004)
  • knowing when and why you need information,
    where to find it, and how to evaluate it, use and
    communicate is in an ethical manner.
  • This definition implies several skills. We
    believe that the skills (or competencies) that
    are required to be information literate require
    an understanding of
  • A need for information
  • The resources available
  • How to find information
  • The need to evaluate results
  • How to work with or exploit results
  • Ethics and responsibility for use
  • How to communicate or share your findings
  • How to manage your findings

Information Literacy e-Learning Impasse
  • SCONUL Seven Pillars Model for
  • Information Literacy (SCONUL ACIL, 2004)
  • Recognise information need
  • Distinguish ways of addressing their information
  • Construct strategies for locating information
  • Locate and access information
  • Compare and evaluate information
  • Organise, apply communicate
  • Synthesise and create

Information Literacy e-Learning Impasse
  • Alan Bundy in JeLit (2004) IL necessary for
    participative citizenship, personal empowerment
    social inclusion
  • UNESCO Prague Declaration (NCLIS, 2003) IL a
    basic human right of lifelong learning

Information Literacy e-Learning Impasse
  • VLE models evolving demands student fluency in
    skills out with current IL definitions and models
  • LauLima approach not only assumes that students
    exemplify competencies noted by CILIP et al, but
    that students have competencies associated with
    librarianship itself.

Information Literacy e-Learning Impasse
  • LauLima based on student created metadata
  • Students apply elements such as title, author,
    citation, description, subject, etc.
  • Students require some knowledge of the storage,
    organisation, general management of information
    itself, as well as understanding as to the
    purpose and function of metadata
  • This isnt AACR2 stuff! However

Information Literacy e-Learning Impasse
  • The DIDET experience
  • IL aptitudes inadequate to support meaningful
    quality metadata creation within a less complex
    LauLima prototype
  • Prototype embryonic workflow, no controlled
    subject vocabulary (folksonomy), fewer elements
    to complete
  • Lack of student understanding meaningless
    descriptions, subject descriptors too broad to
    support meaningful document retrieval, student
    inability to discern the subject from which their
    resource derived, and on and on.
  • Why should students understand???????

Information Literacy Implications
  • Current IL conceptualisations fall short within
    specific e-learning contexts
  • LauLima quite a unique example, but evolution of
    VLE models increasingly emphasise incorporation
    of digital libraries within VLEs
  • Digital Libraries in the Classroom
  • Pedagogical paradigm shift emphasis on PBL
    constructivist learning, etc.
  • Similar model to LauLima InfoBase Project
    (Delft University of Technology), Spoken Word
    Project (Glasgow Caledonian University
    Michigan State University)

Information Literacy Implications
  • DIDET experimenting with integrated and embedded
    IL model which addresses IL anomalies
  • Based loosely on the Big6 Model (Eisenberg,
    2001) parallels several design process models
  • Model conducive to design engineering pedagogy,
    esp. where VLEs and digital libraries support
  • an exhaustive exposition to feature in the
    literature soon!

Concluding thoughts
  • Accommodating ever sophisticated ICT based
    learning models within IL will always be a
  • A bigger challenge ensuring models are adaptive
    and reflect transient nature of ICT based
  • Should LIS community debate the need to augment
    or revise IL models advocated by CILIP et al? (Of
    course, these models are still particularly
    usefulbut are they still applicable within
    specific e-learning contexts?)
  • Students need the skills to unlock the potential
    of radical approaches to ICT based learning

Contact, Comments, Questions
  • Email me
  • Email Lou
  • Comments? Questions?
  • Thank you for listening!

  • Bundy, A. (2004), One Essential Direction
    Information Literacy, Information Technology
  • Fluency, Journal of eLiteracy, Vol.1 No.1,
    pp.7-22. Available
  • http//
    er_1.pdf (Accessed 22 March 2005)
  • CILIP. (2004), Information Literacy Definition,
    CILIP, London. Available
  • http//
    mationliteracy/definition/ (Accessed 22
  • March 2005).
  • DIDET. (2003), DIDET Project Plan, University
    of Strathclyde, Glasgow. Available
  • http//
    lan.pdf (Accessed 22 March 2005)
  • Eisenberg, M, B. (2001), A Big6 Skills Overview,
    Big6 Associates, New York.
  • Available http//
    16 (Accessed 22 March 2005)
  • NCLIS. (2003), The Prague Declaration "Towards
    an Information Literate Society",
  • NCLIS, Washington D.C. Available at
  • infolitconfmeet/PragueDeclaration.pdf (Accessed
    22 March 2005)
  • SCONUL ACIL. (2004), Learning Outcomes and
    Information Literacy, Society of