EdTech, Higher Education

Digital Literacy and Information Fluency in Higher Ed

Consuming information online is no more than a click, scroll, or swipe these days. All searches are not created equal and rarely do we think about fact checking what we find on the Internet. I am not alone in thinking about how “…the Internet is actually changing the way we read the way we reason, and even the way we think, and all for the worse” (The Death of Expertise, Nicols, 2017, p. 111). In higher education, I think it is imperative we teach our learners and colleagues about what it means to participate and interact in digital spaces and places. How can our institutions help students, staff, and faculty “be” online and consider how both information and digital environments impact knowledge sharing and learning?

CC BY-NC via Intersection Consulting

Definition: Digital Literacy and Information Fluency

Digital literacy is multifaceted. The New Media Consortium provided a Digital Literacy Strategic Brief (Alexander, Adams Becker, & Cummins, 2016) to identify the role policy, practice, and curriculum can have on all facets of our campus. Alexander et al. (2016, p.1) defines digital literacy as “not just understanding how a tool works but also why it is useful in the real world and when to use it.” To improve our practices for improving this literacy we need to think broadly about strategic planning and the creation of standards at our campus. There are new opportunities to encourage learners to become content and media producers, identify technical competencies for the workforce with industry-education partnerships, and develop smart collaborations within the community entities, such as governments, libraries, museums, and cultural heritage organizations. This report offers insights across universal literacy, creative literacy, and literacy across disciplines by offering exemplars in practice at institutions that include digital literacy in program and curriculum design.

Beyond digital competencies, we need to develop media and information fluency in higher education. The Association of College and Research Libraries (2016) has updated their literacy competency standards by developing a Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education to offer guidance “to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.” Scholarly inquiry requires analyzing information for credibility and understanding if an online resource is primary, secondary or irrelevant. Information is constructed in context to digital environments and is often created as a process of knowing, reflection, editing, and production online. Beyond this, the Institute of Museum and Library Services are offering suggestions for data information literacy to help us understand how we manage, curate, and design curriculum around data and information. To encourage both digital prowess and information awareness online, we need to develop skills around: outline critical thinking for research, encourage digital teaming, and identify privacy, security and data issues online.

Critical Thinking and Online Research

Much of what we want our students, and perhaps colleagues, to develop is a technical competency with information management in the digital realm. Digital literacy and information fluency help us improve our understanding and acquisition of knowledge to move beyond the #FakeNews fallacies and make meaning of what we are learning. In seeing how fast information travels with inaccurate content, I often wonder if my learners understand how the Internet works? Part of our responsibility, as educators, is to teach effective search processes online, to investigate databases, and examine scholarly repositories with our students and co-authors.

Additionally, as we encourage learners and peers to share presentations or develop projects it is critical to encourage citing and attribution of resources. Beyond using APA 6th edition format for referencing scholarly work, we also need to scaffold content curation and sharing, specifically with regards to copyright, fair use, and creative commons licensing. Work can be contributed to course materials (e.g. LTEC 4000 Course Wiki), textbook development (e.g. PM4ID), or perhaps even contributing to general knowledge on the Internet (e.g. Wiki Edu). Applying search skills in a course will help to hone and develop expertise beyond their degree and put into practice in their work and personal life. Here are a few examples of Information Literacy Activities or Resources you might include or apply in your course or program on campus.

Virtual Teaming: Collaboration & Problem-Solving

Part of being a member of a college or university community is the opportunity for discussion and discourse among peers. Scholarly inquiry and debate cannot and should not happen in a vacuum. Learning experiences should offer ways to evaluate information and to participate in civic online reasoning helps our learners beyond course discussions, class activities, and assigned projects. With the advent of the social web and networked communication platforms, there is an increasing opportunity to gather virtual teams or to support distributed group work. How can you enhance distributed collaboration for learners and support your peers online?

The new social learning helps us “join with others to make sense of and create new ideas…[it] is augmented with social media tools that bridge distance and time, enabling people to easily interact across the workplace, passion, curiosity, skill or need. It benefits from a diversity in types of intelligence and in the experiences of those learning” (Bingham & Connor, 2015, p.8). These digital environments need to be woven into our pedagogical considerations learning design and considered in context to support virtual teaming among scholars. Much of the creative problem solving, production development, and final products for learners can be self-directed via peers online. Some examples, I have used in practice and for instruction include shared documents for education, planning virtual group meetings, supporting hashtags for learning, and offering on-demand, online office hours. There are many ways to learn and work from a distance – decide what your purpose or goal is first, and then explore what digital platforms to use.

Digital Privacy, Security, and Data

To further this notion, we need to consider how we thrive in the digital age and this should start at our colleges and universities. The US Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity put out a Report on Securing and Growing the Digital Economy. As human behavior and technology are intertwined, it will be vital to secure our technologies, processes, and products online. As we “live” online and continue to get hacked online, we need to identify how we will operate in digital spaces and also prepare cybersecurity workforce capabilities online as outlined in this report. Higher education IT colleagues are continually thinking about ways to respond to cybersecurity attacks; however, prevention and awareness among campus stakeholders should be priorities at our institutions. I often have my students and peers think deeper about their privacy and security online by introducing them to ideas shared by WNYC’s Note To Self: Privacy Paradox 5-part series and the Privacy Paradox tip sheet, specifically to have all understand how to protect personal information and perhaps to take control back of their shared personal  data online. Beyond this short course, I often encourage colleagues and students to read recent news reports, or listen to podcasts, such as CBC Spark and Reply-All, to prompt discussions about current issues and events that apply to their own digital life to ask more about their own Terms of Service.

References

Alexander, B., Adams Becker, S., & Cummins, M. (2016). Digital Literacy: An NMC Horizon Project Strategic Brief. Volume 3.3, October 2016. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Association of College and Research Libraries. (2016, January 11). Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. American Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework

Bingham, T., & Conner, M. (2015). The new social learning: Connect. Collaborate. Work., 2nd Edition. Alexandria, VA: ATD Press.

Hardin, G. (2016). White Paper: University of North Texas, Information Fluency Initiative. UNT Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc944367/

Nichols, T. (2017). The death of expertise: The campaign against established knowledge and why it matters. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

An edited version of this blog post was cross-posted on the Ed Tech Magazine: Focus on Higher Ed website. 

Social Media, SocioTech, Uncategorized

#iConf14 Social Media Expo Winners!

I am just back from the 2014 iConference (#iConf14) hosted by Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin  in Berlin, Germany. The iSchools offer a stellar conference for scholars and researchers to share and discuss critical information issues that impact our society.

400 pounds

Let me give you the dirt (literally) on our collaborative project we completed for the 2nd Annual Social Media Expo: Community Systems, Sensor Monitoring, and the Internet of Things: A Case Study About Feed Denton Community Compost

compost_1

The University of North Texas team demonstrated how an interdisciplinary group from Decision Science, Computer Education Cognitive Science, Information Science, and Applied Technology & Performance Improvement can propose a design solution for a smart city/community for the iConference Social Media Expo. Our abstract paper and video for the competition outlined how social data, the Internet of Things, and smart design can improve sustainability in a community for Compost Denton.

SocialMediaExplo_ID_444_Figure_2

In thinking about information and how data is shared, our team proposed a unique design to make composting and data actionable. In conjunction with a pilot compost project in Denton, TX, our group suggested the use of augmenting this environmental start-up using Arduino sensors, smart technologies, data visualizations, and social media to encourage participation and inform the community about their ecological impacts. When data is socially shared, community members have the ability to see the larger picture for sustainable living by tracking individual and community composting progress.

gamification_loop

Thanks to the efforts made by local volunteers who initiated the Feed Denton Community compost pilot projects, we were able to consider how technological solutions can support and improve this model. Moving forward, we hope to support the business development plan and social media design to help scale and grow the Compost Denton initiative.

Here is the slide deck and our abstract that shares our proposed way to use social data for implementation and gamification for composting in a local community.

Guess who won? A message from the iConference 2014 daily news update:

“Congratulation also to the University of North Texas Social Media Expo team on
winning the 2014 Best Project Award. The winning entry was titled Community
Systems, Sensor Monitoring, and the Internet of Things: A Case Study About
Feed Denton Community Compost.
 It was authored by Laura A. Pasquini; Andrew J.
Miller; Fiachra E. L. Moynihan; Patrick McLeod. More at
http://ischools.org/the-iconference/awards/

Group Win Take1

From L-R: Fiachra E. Moynihan (@FiachraM), Laura A. Pasquini (@laurapasquini), & Andrew J. Miller (@findandrew) with their College of Information faculty sponsor, Dr. Jeff M. Allen (@drjeffallen). Not in photo – Patrick McLeod (@misternaxal).

award

Guthen Tag.  Danke für das Kommen zu unserem Social-Media-Präsentation heute. Thank you for your support and this opportunity:

  • Dr. Jeff Allen, our faculty sponsor from Department of Learning Technologies in the College of Information at University of North Texas
  • Shelley Farnham, Organizer/Coordinator/Researcher of the Social Media Expo from FUSE Social Labs at Microsoft Research (along with others who reviewed/judged the expo abstracts)
  • Humbolt-Universitadt zu Berlin our iConference 2014 host with the most.

 

Abstract: This case study provides on the Feed Denton Community Compost Project. This ethnographic research will review how the collecting of social data and implementation of information communication technologies can provide a smart city infrastructure for this sustainable community of practice through sensor monitoring and the Internet of Things.
Keywords: social media; community of practice; Internet of Things; social data; sustainability
Copyright: Copyright is held by the authors.

Reference:

Pasquini, L. A., Miller, A. J., Moynihan, F. E., & McLeod, P. (2014). Community systems, sensor monitoring, and the Internet of Things: A case study about Feed Denton Community Compost. iConference 2014 proceedings.  (pp. 1-8). In M. Kindling & E. Greifendeder (Eds.) (2014). Berlin, Germany:  iSchools. DOI 10.9776/14010 Retrieved from https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/handle/2142/48831

PhD, Professional Development, Reflections, SocioTech

Finding a Research “Home” with #SocioTech at #iConf13

As a College of Information student, the learning technology department compliments a number of research areas emphasized within our iSchool and at the 2013 iConference. Andrew Miller (@findandrew), Leila Mills, Mark Evans and I proudly represented UNT as one of the 12 finalists for the Social Media Expo hosted by FUSE Labs of Microsoft Research at the iConference this year. After conducting our ethnographic study on the Denton Local Food System (LFS), we submitted a research paper, video, poster, and created an online space for the LFS community to share information, house knowledge and connect to local happenings within the community at FeedDenton.org.
#iConf13 Social Media Expo Finalists
  Social Media Expo poster @ 2013 iConference (#iConf13) with @findandrew

What I enjoyed most about attending the conference was the refreshing opportunities to engage about research methodology and conceptual frameworks that apply to my scholarly interests. It felt like I was coming “home” when talking shop with various academics and graduate students during the conference. The best part might have been the pre-conference session:  SocioTechnical Systems Research workshop (#CNFWSP2). This is where I was able to connect to other #sociotech researchers, and learn more about areas of inquiry coming out of the iSchools and various disciplines.

The pre-conference was a full day o’ fun that housed various speakers, discussions, and sharing of directions in socio-technical research, including

  • critical study and comparative study
  • considerations for multi-scale ethnographic research
  • artifacts that change communication in organizations
  • impacts of human and non-human delegation
  • shifts from visible to invisible networks (part of ANT)
  • organization as a constant communication
  • sustainable information practices
  • action-based research for informatic improvement
  • participation, community resilience, plurality, design

Later in the day, Steve Sawyer, conducted a master class to present various sociotechnical systems (STS) perspectives, which drew upon theories from Actor-Network to social construction. Everything is relational as new forms of social organization is occurring with new technical arrangements all around us. We talked about #sociotech in practice, specifically how to situate the phenomena (conceptual & empirical framing) and conceptualize sociotechnical systems (identify characteristics of the social, technical and interactions) by looking at this STS conceptual space mapping from Steve.

Untitled
This post is just the tip of the iceberg, as I have a number of notes, ideas, references, and research peers to turn to thanks to this workshop. I was not surprised to run into some of the #sociotech usual suspects in #iConf13 sessions such local communities, learning environments, or ethnographic studies of online communities. I appreciated the comments and dialogues brought to both the paper and notes sessions (I preferred the workshop space in the notes session better), and I am motivated to dig back into my own research and dissertation grind.

Want to read more about the 2013 iConference proceedings or connect to a few sociotechs? Here you go:

 

Reference:

Miller, A. J., Pasquini, L. A., Mills, L. A., & Evans, M. (2013). Towards a methodology of virtually augmenting a knowledge sharing community of practice: A case study of the local food system of Denton, Texas. iConference 2013 Proceedings (pp. 1095-1101). doi:10.9776/13527