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The relational model of IL, and what it means for PhDs

Presentation for a keynote speech in Oslo, 10/3/11, at the 'Ph.d.-kandidater og forskningsprosessen: Bibliotekets bidrag' conference, given by Drew Whitworth.

Drew Whitworth

on 19 October 2011

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Transcript of The relational model of IL, and what it means for PhDs

The relational model of information literacy ...and what it means for PhD researchers Andrew Whitworth, University of Manchester, UK SUBJECTIVE Subjective forms of value are unique
to individuals. It is exerted when we say:
'do I like this?', 'do I need
this?' 'is it relevant to me?' Aesthetic senses,
past experiences,
cultural and maybe
even genetic make-up all play a part in this diversity If it is not accounted for, we risk "Groupthink"
(Janis 1972). Creativity and initiative depend on
subjectivity. Note also its essential role for the
PhD researcher, tasked to
produce original
work. OBJECTIVE Over hundreds of years we have developed ways of validating knowledge that do not depend on the subjectivity of individuals. Scientific method (including social science),
an understanding of methodology, peer
review, the maintenance of a stable publications
record, etc. Without this we risk 'counterknowledge' (Thompson) or 'Bad
Science' (Goldacre)... Systems of counterknowledge can be wide-ranging
and backed up by publication: but have no scientific
validity INTERSUBJECTIVE Intersubjective
values exist between
people, agreed upon through
different forms of communication Laws, morals, ethics, cultural
norms, market values: all
teach us what is valued and
devalued ('right' and 'wrong') These forms of value are often
cast as, or confused with, objective

Nevertheless they remain open to review and
negotiation. Without them we risk relativism:
exemplified by the poisoner conducting
an information search There is too much information and
too many resources in the world for
us to accommodate. Consequently, we always filter from the totality. This filtering is done with
reference to different forms
of VALUE. These forms of value are
interdependent, and each
is essential to good practice
with information. An attempt to translate these
into schemes of IL teaching was
made by Christine Bruce, Mandy
Lupton & Sylvia Edwards (2006) The 6 frames of IL content frame
competency frame Objective types of IL

CONFORMING Essential skills... but very generic, not
open to interpretation or negotiation personal relevance frame
learning to learn frame Subjective types of IL INFORMING We need to be aware of cognitive biases social impact frame
relational frame Intersubjective types TRANSFORMING It is in this domain that the informational
resources evolve: participation is key The relational frame is the
frame in which the 3 domains
of value are judged against
each other. SUBJECTIVE OBJECTIVE INTERSUBJECTIVE internalising good practice methodology (in specific
contexts) reviews of best practice,
redefining disciplinary norms rational decision-making
(communicative or instrumental) learning (turning information
into knowledge) Publication and collaboration Research (in whatever setting) involves
continuous judgments about how the
domains affect each other. An example: the Media & IL resource
(Uni of Manchester/HEA-ICS) In 2010 I collaborated with the John Rylands
University Library on a project to develop some
IL resources for postgraduates and researchers.

This was funded by the Higher Education Academy
(Information and Computer Science subject
centre). See http://MAdigitaltechnologies.wordpress.com/infoliteracy

Also our paper in ITALICS 10/1 (Whitworth, McIndoe and
Whitworth 2011) Many IL resources are targeted at undergraduates
(certainly in the UK, anyway), little at postgrads &
researchers, despite their differing needs... ...older, may have been out of the academy a long while;
expectation of original thought & publication;
less structured learning environment. The supervisor's role remains
primary, but their IL skills are
not always what they could be
(see recent RIN report) The resource attempts to cover all the
forms of best practice indicated in the
diagram above. Conclusion This is (I hope) an entirely positive statement...

but it is time for IL to move out of the library. IL has to be about more than the effective retrieval of information.
It is nothing less than the full set of skills we require in order to
sustain a healthy, diverse and evolving informational environment. In this task, research is used - and abused - in
many different ways... At the very least, we don't want our research
or our researchers to end up being discussed
in here. More positively, we want to make a difference.

This means context-specific IL work within the
discipline as well as generic work within the
academy as a whole. Tusen takk...! drew.whitworth@manchester.ac.uk
Full transcript