Welcome to the Scottish Information Literacy Project

Welcome everyone to the Scottish Information Literacy Project and weblog we are delighted with the help we received from the invaluable Warren Smith in IT in setting it up. Things are reasonably good at the moment as we are currently funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and Many Thanks to this body for keeping the show on the road. However although we are funded until the end of September 2009, now is not too soon to be thinking about finding future funding. 

We have recently been doing our first piece of consultancy, some subcontracting work for Becta. This has proved to be very informative and it shows that Becta is becoming aware of information literacy or digital literacy as they prefer to call it.  There is also growing interest in the early years/parental involvement agenda, the role of information in these areas and media literacy which is something we are interested in having previously had contacts with Ofcom Scotland. It was also flagged up strongly when I visited Washington in October last year to meet US experts on information literacy. However I feel that, while LIS research is using educational findings, I do not think that, on the whole, the converse is true. I attended a discussion last month on a pre print about digital natives and although information literacy was discussed in the text there were no references to LIS journals or research.

Christine and I are currently scurrying about meeting employers’ organisations, the STUC, the Employability & Skills Division of the Lifelong Learning Directorate and Skills Development Scotland who are interested in the role of IL in careers guidance.  There is no doubt at all that the skills agenda is going to play a big part in the future of IL development and it is essential that it should be seen as a discrete skill and not just buried  under umbrella terms like ‘problem solving’ and ‘soft skills’. A recurring problem for us is that we have no policy formulated by our professional body (CILIP) to show them.  An issue for the Policy Forum?

I am a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) which has a strong interest in vocational education and skills development.  We recently had a meeting with the RSA Outreach Officer who has agreeed to promote IL awareness among IL members.


Best wishes


John Crawford


Project Director


Digital Literacy in an e-world: The 8th Annual E-Books Conference

On Thursday 30th October 2008 we were one of five speakers at the E-Books Conference at the Lighthouse in Glasgow. The Lighthouse is an amazing building and I took the opportunity to take the lift to the sixth floor to see the roof top view of Glasgow which must be amazing at night time so will need to do a return visit.

We had been asked to do a presentation about the work of the project and wanted to incorporate the conference theme so decided to call our presentation The Scottish Information Literacy Project “From ICT to Digital Literacy the importance of information literacy” (see project website events page for link to presentation) linking the start of the project with the Drumchapel Project (John Crawford) and recent consultancy work on Digital Literacy.

presenting at the 8th e-book event on Digital Literacy at the Lighthouse, Glasgow

presenting - e-book / Digital Literacy event

Other speakers included Paul Riley (The Welsh E-Books Consortium), like Scotland, Wales is a good size for collaboration on a national basis and Paul described some of their collaborative developments. Talking to him afterwards he expressed interest in the framework and the possiblity of Wales doing something similar. Hopefully they will be able to pursue this and as we will be in Cardiff for the 2009 LILAC Conference we can check on any progress.

John Coll gave an overview of the Business Information Services at the National Library of Scotland (Scotbis), whilst most enquiries are made electronically their resources are predominately print although they do collect both print and electronic publications / editions and offer clients / customers the option of accessing information sources in person (free of charge) or sending paper copies for a fee. I spoke to John at lunch time about the work the project is involved in within the workplace and also the forthcoming SIN (Scottish Information Network) meeting on Blogging which unfortuantely had to be postponned due to lack of numbers.

After lunch Sarah Fahmy (JISC) talked about JISC Collections for Schools and Jim Henderson (LTS) talked about the Online Reference Resources offered by Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS) in partnership with JISC through GLOW (a national digital network for schools which will provide tools to underpin Curriculum for Excellence learning and teaching approaches). It was really good to see the material that will be available to schools and also to see schools now benefiting from JISC collections.

The last speaker was Duncan Chapell from Glasgow School of Art – InfosmART: using the Web to Deliver Information Skills to Arts Researchers. One of the highlights of Duncan’s presentation was the use of the project National Framework to inform the development of their information literacy programme. The other was their / his use of images (Visual Literacy) both within InfosmART and his presentation as Art students use of visual images is not surprisingly very high. It made me remember the old adage a picture tells a thousand words.

All in all the day seemed to be a success both event and project wise. Interestingly their seemed to be more mention of information literacy rather than digital literacy.

Photo courtesay of Jill Evans (SCURL)

Scottish Learning Festival

Included in the the sesions I attended was the keynote speech by Fiona Hyslop MSP Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning in which she outlined the central role of learning in supporting the Scottish Government’s strategic objectives. Of particular interest was that of a mention of Information Literacy skills and Dundee Librarians creating a community of Information Literacy skills in her speach in reference to examples of joined up working and GLOW.

She spoke quite a bit about GLOW (a national digital network for Scottish Schools) and referred to it as a truely innovative service on a national basis, recognised by George Lucas who was calling on US Congress to do the same. (Laurie O’Donnell, director of learning and technology at Learning and Teaching Scotland, was named as one of the George Lucas Educational Foundation’s “global six”. Each year, the film-maker’s foundation honours six educationalists who it believes are “reshaping education”. O’Donnell was honoured for his use of information technology.)

With reference to the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) she said it was skills for learning, skills for life, beyond curricular into life and that there was still much to do: assessments; skills development; professional development for teachers.

In the afternoon I attended a thought provoking session by Ruth Sutton entitled “It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it…that’s what gets results” she talked about ‘not the what but the how of teaching’ and that there was ‘not enough focus on the how’ and that there was an ‘enourmous gap between vision and reality’. She also talked about initiatives and spining or weaving plates and that from a personal perspective ‘nothing that we identify as best practice is entirely new’.

With reference to research and practitioners – she talked about ‘how do we get the water to the end of the furrow’ which I though was a good analogy for getting research out into practice something which the library and information profession research community has looked at. On Assessments – Assesment for Learning (AfL) was more like Assessment for Teachers however teachers that support Assessment for Learning would not go back. Also there needed to be a move from ‘plan for coverage to planning for learning’.

She talked a little about Limbic Learning (a new term for me) which is all about using the part of the brain which deals with emotion, experiences and habits – helps the telling into habits from knowing into doing. According to Sutton Limbic Learning is the key to challenge traditional approach to teachers’ professional development. Returning to the how not the what she said that Curriculum for Excellence needs to be defined as the how not the what.

The afternoon’s keynote Reforming the High School Curriculum: Tools for Raising Quality of Learning and Improving Equity, Richard Teese, Professor of Post Compulsory Education Training and Director of the Centre for Post Compulsory Education and Lifelong Learning, University of Melbourne. He sees CfE as far sighted and ambitious and that it will tax Scottish schools on two major fronts: how to raise the quality of learning of many students and how to ensure that all young people build well on a succesful experience of school. He says progress on both these fronts will require strong incentives. His keynote included identifying some of the key challenges for Scotland in the context of CfE.

My final session of the day was Real and Relevant – Information Literacy Skills for the 21st century Learner Louise Ballantyne, Development Officer, Literacy, Learning and Teaching Scotland. According to her biography ‘Louise has a broad experience of teaching at different stages throughout the primary school. Most recently at LTS she has played a key role in the writing of Literacy and English outcomes for CfE, and has engaged with authorities across Scotland as to how to take the framework forward.’ I was particulalry interested in hearing what Louise had to say about information literacy as the Seminar Description refered to ‘the Curriculum for Excellence experiences and outcomes direct practitioners to help learners find and use information effectively, to use information ethically and with a critical eye.’ Whilst what Louise was saying with reference to information literacy was not new to school librarians and those professionals involved in information literacy it was interesting and good to hear a teacher talk about information literacy. Once finished her material will I understand be available on the CfE website. I also understand that one of the school librarian GLOW mentors approached her about the material being included in GLOW. I hope to meet up with her at a later date and discuss as the seminar describes ‘one of the more challenging areas of Curriculum for Excellence.’ This is the part I like about attending events sharing information with other people.

Scottish Learning Festival – CfE Science and Technology

New for 2008 at the Scottish Learning Festival was Topic Surgeries which according to the programme would faciltate informal discussions with presenters lasting 12 minutes. Having identified Joyce Henderson, Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS) new Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) Technologies: The Draft Experiences as the one for me. I joined the surgery to find two teachers doing most of the talking about what they liked and didn’t like about the outcomes, leaving no time for me to get a word in, in the 12 minute allocated time. I did however manage to have a quick word with Joyce and her colleague about information literacy, it’s cross curricula relevance to CfE, the work of school librarians / learning resouce co-ordinators plus leave her with a copy of the national framework (Scotland).

Information I gleaned is that they (CfE) are going to be looking at skills, which will tie in nicely with the work we are doing and that following consultation / research carried out by Glasgow University (interim report is on the web) they are redoing the Science draft learning outcomes and experiences.

Library play

An interesting article appeared in the Sunday Herald (Dangerous’ directors scoop Arches prize’, 26/10/08) about a Scottish artist awarded funding to write a play called ‘The Library’.  Sacha Kyle will be creating an interactive library, with people instead of books lining the walls: “I’m fascinated by the idea of how libraries can be a place for refuge, knowledge and a place for escape,” she said. The, as yet unscripted, play is seen by the artistic director of the Glasgow arts venue The Arches as a “dangerous and brave” project.

It’ll be interesting to see how the play turns out and how the artist’s perception matches practitioner’s experiences!