Revolution Lullabye

February 4, 2013

JISC and the British Library, Researchers of Tomorrow

JISC and the British Library. Researchers of Tomorrow: TheResearch Behaviour of Generation Y Doctoral Students.  Report.  28 June 2012.  Print.

JISC, a British thinktank that studies digital technologies, and the British Library conducted a three-year study of the research behaviors of “Generation Y” British doctoral students in order to discover how doctoral students find information, conduct research, and use emerging technologies in their research processes.  The Generation Y students they targetted were born between 1982-1994 and did not grow up using digital technologies (in other words, they are not digital natives.)

The study, which involved three annual surveys of a total of 17,000 doctoral students and a longitudinal study of 60 doctoral students, found that this generation of doctoral students relied less on primary sources and materials when conducting their research and turned most often to e-journals (rather than printed sources) to find information and texts.  Although they have been introduced to different kinds of Web 2.0 and digital technologies that could augment their research process, the study found that most Generation Y doctoral students only adopted technologies that fit into their already-established research habits. These students were often unsure of the validity and the usefulness of open access cites, probably due to uncertainty about the credibility of online publication venues and the suspicion of sharing (or fear of being scooped) in many academic fields.  Finally, the research study found that students don’t find one-size-fits-all research or technology workshops useful for their own research process; the doctoral students in the study noted that a more informal, peer-led, and tailored approach to research strategies would be more effective.

The purpose of the study is to shed light on the research habits of this generation of doctoral students.   The findings, both JISC and the British Library hope, will help librarians and those in higher education better prepare and assist doctoral students for 21st century digital research.

Notable Notes

huge longitudinal study that focuses on students’ research and information-finding habits.

the organization of the report:

  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Setting the scene
  • Chapter 3: Finding and using research resources
  • Chapter 4: Take-up of technology and applications
  • Chapter 5: Collaborating, sharing, and disseminating research
  • Chapter 6: Institutional services and facilities to support research
  • Chapter 7: Conclusions

surveys tried to determine what are their attitudes toward research and what are the key constraints/drivers to their research process (10)

surveyed students from 72 institutions of higher education.

two key findings: “Only Google commands a similarily important role [the other being e-journals] as an information source across all subject disciplines” and “Generation Y doctoral students seem rarely to be aware of the actual publisher or name of the e-information source, as they rely on their library’s own interface or Google to locate and access resources” (19).

Quotable Quotes

“The study found that Generation Y doctoral students are sophisticated information-seekers and users of complex information sources. They are not dazzled by technology and are acutely aware of critical issues such as authority and authenticity in research and evidence gathering” (5).

“If they cannot get hold of an e-journal article, almost half the Generation Y doctoral students said they will make do with the abstract.  Fewer older students inclined to do this” (6)

“There is widespread lack of understanding and uncertainty about open access and self-archived resources” (6) – are students given enough support and guidance to navigate resources on and off line?

“Of the total survey sample, 30% used Google or Google Scholar as their main source to find the research information they sought.” (23)

“Evidence from the cohort suggested a tendency among doctoral students to download and store much more than they ever read in detail. Many downloaded things or viewed them online and then if they looked interesting they would commonly print them out to read them. Many cohort members commented on how they dislike reading (as opposed to scanning) on screen.” (23)

 

January 29, 2013

Buckingham, Digital Media Literacies

Buckingham, David. “Digital Media Literacies: Rethinking Media Education in the Age of the Internet.” Research in Comparative and International Education 2.1 (2007): 43-55.

Buckingham, a well-known media education scholar from the UK, argues that the notion of media literacy must be extended beyond a the idea of a functional skill set based on search and evaluation techniques and instead, move towards critical understanding of how information online is authored, produced, and circulated amid social and ideological forces. 

In order to help media educators build students’ critical understanding of digital literacy, Buckingham offers his own framework (2003) of key concepts through which to analyze digital media: representation, language, production, and audience.  He argues that this framework resists the reductive checklists that are given to students to analyze and evaulate the internet and digital media.  These checklists, Buckingham contends, assume that there is some sort of objective truth that can be found in digital media – that the Internet is a neutral tool.  Instead, Buckingham argues, educators need to teach students how digial media (like all forms of rhetoric) is inherently biased and socially and culturally situated.  He points out that the Internet is more shaped by commerical interests than other forms of media.

Buckingham also argues that in order to truly build complex, critical digital literacy, students must not only consume (or read) media, but also produce (write) it. Production, he claims, gives students a deeper understanding of how digital media is built and functions.

Finally, Buckingham complicates the definition of access to include not just physical access to digital technology (computers, software, space), but also certain cultural and social competencies and awareness of digital media.  For example, he argues that even in technologically-rich cultures (like the US and UK), boys and white children have more access and greater compentencies online than girls and minorities.

Notable Notes

His framework (page 48-49)

  • representation – media don’t report, they represent reality.  What is represented? What is not?
  • language – how sites are designed, constructed, and how they function rhetorically (for example, the rhetorical function of hyperlinks)
  • production – who/why are sites produced for? who (or what institutions) affect and shape the information and what you see? impact of commercialization
  • audience – how to readers access sites? who are sites targeted to? how is this interactive online?

has literacy been reduced to a set of skills? Is the term meaningless when juxtaposed with so many other words? (43-44)

differences between functional and critical literacy (44)

the internet is not just an educational tool; how is it really used and consumed by people? how can we draw on that understanding, these grounded behaviors? (45)

functional digital literacy skills quickly become obsolete (like checklists) (46) – we’re looking to build lasting habits of mind

focus of Internet literacy is often safety (esp for children) – European Commission’s “Safer Internet Action Plan” (46)

Buckingham sees digital literacy as an extension of media literacy, media education

create a heuristic?

sources: Bettina Fabos (2004); Ellen Seiter (2005); Nicholas Burbules and Thomas Callister (2000) (they argue that users need to understand how the Web functions as a system)

Internet’s architecture shaped by “commercial, governmental, and military interests” (from Fabos) (47). – connection to who has power, agency, a voice online

replace the focus on locating/evaluating/producing information – broaden that to understanding digital media as “a cultural form” (45)

what we want users to behave like vs. how they actually behave online (45)

Quotable Quotes

“Rather than simply adding media or digital literacy to the curriculum menu, or hiving off ‘information and communication technology’ into a separate subject, we need a much broader reconceptualisation of what we mean by literacy in a world that is increasingly dominated by electronic media. This is not by any means to suggest that verbal literacy is no longer relevant, or that books should be discarded.  However, it is to imply that the curriculum can no longer be confined to a narrow conception of literacy that is defined solely in terms of the medium of print” (53).

“Most uses of computers in schools signally fail to engage with the complex technological and media-saturated environment in which children are now growing up. For the most part, they are narrowly defined, mechanical, and unimaginative. The answer to this problem is not to import ever more fashionable or ‘child-friendly’ devices, or to sugar the pill of learning with a superficial dose of digital entertainment. Digital media literacy represents a more rigorous – but also more enjoyable and motivating – way of addressing the educational challenges of the digital age” (53).

Access needs to be seen not merely in terms of access to technology or to technical skills, but also to cultural forms of expression and communication, and it needs to be acknowledged that students’ access to (and familiarity with) those cultural forms is itself likely to be quite variable” (52).

“In the context of media education, the aim is not primarily to develop technical skills, or to promote ‘self-expression,’ but to encourage a more systematic understanding of how media operate, and hence to promote more reflective ways of using them” (50).

“Media literacy involves ‘writing’ the media as well as ‘reading’ them” (49).

“Nevertheless, it should be apparent that approaching digital media through media education is about much more than simply ‘accessing’ these media, or using them as tools for learning: on the contrary, it means developing a much broader critical understanding, which addresses the textual characteristics of media alongside their social, economic, and cultural implications” (48-49).

“Digital literacy also involves a broader awareness of the global role of advertising, promotion, and sponsorship, and how they influence the nature of information that is available in the first place” (48)…..”growing importance of commercial influences – particularly as these are often invisible to the user” (48).

“Digital literacy must therefore involve a systematic awareness of how digital media are constructed [designed/produced], and of the unique ‘rhetorics’ of interactive communication” (48). – rhetorical function of links

Critical information literacy: “This means asking questions about the sources of that information, the interests of its producers, and the ways in which it represents the world, and understanding how technological developments and possibilities are related to broader social and economic forces” (46).

“Literacy education cannot be confined simply to the acquisition of skills, or the mastery of particular practices; it also must entail a form of ‘critical framing’ that enables the learner to take a theoretical distance from what they have learned, to account for its social and cultural location, and to critique and extend it” (45) draws on Cope & Kalantzis, 2000

Literacy education “entails the acquisition of meta-language” (45)

May 31, 2009

McClure and Baures, Looking In by Looking Out

McClure, Randall and Lisa Baures. “Looking In by Looking Out.” Computers and Compositon. (Fall 2007).

McClure, a WPA, and Baures, a librarian, argue for greater collaboration between librarians and compositionists to revise first-year composition curriculum to better serve the information literacy needs students have in today’s digital world. They illustrate their collaborative method for curriculum revision in this article, the triangulation of WPA standards, ACRL standards, and institutional individual course objectives. They argue that librarians and compositionists have similiar literacy concerns and challenges when working with students, and a rich collaboration with library and information science can enrich the content of the first-year composition course.

Quotable Quotes

“Therefore, to better understand the complexities of information literacy and provide instructional strategies to help students develop information literacy skills, composition might once again be served by exploring other fields, in this case the field of Library and Information Science. This field not only acknowledges the complexity of researching in the digital age and crafts a whole series of standards for information literacy, but it also give teachers something they often search for—content for composition.  ” (emphasis mine)

“the disconnection between “college-eligible and college ready” must be addressed, but it cannot be done by correlating high school and college level standards, irrespective of whether they are information literacy or subject content standards. Nor can systemic needs for remediation be ignored. Yet in the absence of a viable solution to this problem, librarians and writing composition instructors must design and develop curricula to provide students with the basic research and writing skills to succeed academically.”

Notable Notes

Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL)

new need: how to evaluate, analyze, synthesize sources. Learning how to use and analyze sources will make students better researchers and writers.

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