Information Literacy skills for teachers UK high schools

Information Literacy skills for teachers UK high schools

EDUC61711: Digital, Media & Information
Literacy
The assignment: general information
The assignment for EDUC61711 Digital, Media and Information Literacy requires you to put
together a portfolio which represents how your thinking has developed as a result of your work on
the course. The portfolio presents four teaching and learning activities which will assist learners
in developing an understanding of any digital, media or information literacy issues. Additionally,
you will include a commentary that explains and justifies your choice of activities and serves to
‘wrap’ the other elements of the portfolio together, explaining and justifying your work with
reference to some theories introduced in this course such as cultural studies, the public sphere,
foundations (and critiques) of media and information literacy, problem-based learning, critical
social science and so on (this is not necessarily a complete list). See below for an example of such a
commentary in skeleton form.
Please also ensure you have read the notes at the end regarding the viewing of drafts, and citation.
Grading criteria are also available at the end of this document.
2. The teaching and learning activities.
In this section of the portfolio, you present four activities designed to teach elements of digital,
media and/or information literacy – or possibly, some other literacy (e.g. health literacy,
environmental literacy).
Target audience and subject matter
You should have a specific target audience in mind for your activities, though this can be defined
quite broadly if you wish. At the very least you should determine whether your portfolio of
activities is intended for younger or older learners.
The audience may also be specific to particular contexts, whether that be a school or university
subject, a particular professional group, a local or interest-based community, or even a specific
organisation. If you do target a specific subject, this does not have to be “Media Studies” or “an ICT
class” etc., though it could be. You might also explore the need for DMIL within a different subject,
like science or history. Also note that the setting for your activities does not have to be a formalised
educational one, it could be a workplace, a community learning setting, etc.
The activities
The activities should be coherent, but that does not necessarily mean that they need to be linked.
What I mean by that is that they should share a target audience and should all be justifiable
together: that is, that a common philosophy (developed and explored through your commentary)
should underlie all four. However, they may be linked in the sense that each builds on the previous
one: or they may be essentially separate and self-contained. Which of these approaches is
appropriate will be a design decision that you have to take, and justify.
Across the four activities considered as a whole, you are encouraged to cover a range of different
types/frames of literacy, as explored in the course (e.g. conventional, emergent or comprehensive
literacy? Different frames of information literacy? etc.)
There are different ways to present these activities. If the activity is intended to be taught in a faceto-
face class then a lesson plan is appropriate, but you might also want to create some kind of
interactive presentation, or a web page of instructions. Perhaps the four activities can be presented
together — or maybe they need treating separately. It really does depend on the context and I
encourage experimentation and creativity.
Because of the variety of possible formats in which these activities may be presented, the idea of a
‘word count’ is inappropriate. However, please bear in mind that we are not expecting multimedia
extravaganzas or lesson plans that describe weeks’ worth of work in one go and are several pages
long. Keep it simple, keep it succinct. Elegance is a desirable virtue anyway. No single activity that
you’re describing should be particularly complex.
3. The commentary
The commentary should be about 2,000 – 2,500 words long, not including the bibliography. It
should justify your choice of the four teaching and learning activities with specific reference to the
core principles and theories introduced in the course: e.g. models of literacy, the six frames of
information literacy, radical information literacy, practice-based approaches and so on. Having said
that, there is no obligation to discuss particular writers simply because they were prominent in
the syllabus; you are encouraged to explore the literature, find your own models and ideas to work
with. As ever, creativity and originality are valued and rewarded in the marking scheme. Use your
chosen theories and models of literacy to explain and justify your activities. What literacy deficits
exist in the target audience? What approaches to address these are appropriate in this particular
context?
Please remember that the week 11 DMIL class is devoted to helping you put together your
portfolio, including this commentary.
Example
I feel that the giving of samples or “model answers” to students is a double-edged sword. Yes, it can
help clarify my intentions, remove ambiguity, maybe give some inspiration. On the other hand it
can come across as directive, and thus stifle your creativity. I have therefore tried to find a
compromise and here supply some information in skeleton form – what flesh you place on such
bones in your own version is up to you. I have not provided references for authors cited, but they
are all in the course reading list. Please note that this example is based on a previous version of
this course (2008-11); but it suffices for our purposes here.
Let us say that I wanted to use this course unit as the basis for my portfolio. In outline form, the
commentary might include a discussion of the following:
• Using, principally, Egan and Hull et al I would justify my belief that to be fully literate in
any field, a learner needs to develop skills at three levels: conventional (objective), emergent
(subjective) and critical or comprehensive (intersubjective) literacy.
• I would have to explain the context within which this course fits, and do so in two ways:
◦ in terms of the values of the MA: DTCE, which in formal terms are the use of digital
technologies, the broadcast media, and/or interpersonal, group or organisational
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communications techniques to enhance practice and the professional and academic
development of educators in technology-rich environments. (as drawn from
www.MAdigitaltechnologies.com). I would particularly concentrate on the
relationship between media and information literacy and professional development,
with reference to the work of Carr & Kemmis and their description of professional
development for educators as being self-reflective and practice-based.
◦ as a technical constraint on what I can do. The issue of particular relevance here is
the need which developed for me in 2008-9 to create a non-time-dependent course
unit for the MA: DTCE. This arose because of a clear need to give distance students
the possibility of extending their studies into the summer, and in turn had two quite
specific consequences:
■ first, that the unit had to be created in Moodle (as opposed to Blackboard, in
which we cannot control enrolments and thus could not extend access over
the summer). (I have, of course, subsequently moved on from Moodle as
well, but let’s not muddy the waters here.)
■ second, that the activities had to be individual, and completable at a distance
with no information other than the specification itself to go on (compare this
with a lesson plan in which the teacher is expected to act as, say, a facilitator
of group discussion) – although the format of the course unit also means that
I could have an “in-class” version of some activities as well which could be
designed slightly differently.
• Bringing all these factors together, and summarising them, would result in the following
outline criteria for the 4 activities:
◦ they have to raise the awareness of M & IL in learners who, in principle, could come
from any educational setting, from primary to tertiary, adult and professional
education; any subject area; and are drawn from around the world
◦ at least in combination, they need to stimulate the use of literacy skills at all three
levels (functional, interpretive and critical) and, ideally, show the links between them
◦ they need to have a self-reflective component
◦ they need to be completable at a distance by a learner working individually.
Remember, I would have about 2,000-2,500 words to do all the above, so there wouldn’t be space
for a huge amount of detail. I think the above outline is a realistic prediction of what subjects I
could properly cover in that number of words.
As to what activities I would pick for the portfolio, I would not just pick 4 at random, but use those
which best addressed the key points raised above: initial feelings are that the following would be
best. You might think this places the on information literacy elements of the course rather than
others, but I am being aware of space considerations here: remember that this is something written
for the assignment, so the fact that this is only a partial picture of the whole course in question is
essentially irrelevant. Again please remember these are drawn from a previous version of the
DMIL course, but it is the example which is important.
• the “defining literacies” activity from topic #2
• “am I information literate” (#6, and see below)
• “is information literacy enough” (#7)
• “towards a literacy lesson plan” (#9).
An outline of the second of these activities now follows. Note that this indicates the rough format of
a final activity, but it is not intended to prescribe a format. These are lesson plans and it might be
that you want to work in a completely different format to describe or present your activities — I
present these like this because it works best in this document.
“Am I information literate?”
Aims and objectives: The aim of this activity is to give students direct experience of an
information search and for them to start to gain critical insight into the effectiveness of the ACRL’s
guidelines in a real-world application of information literacy skills.
Time required: ¼ hour preparation, then one hour to do the task itself plus another hour for selfand
group-reflection afterwards.
Equipment: Ideally, one computer per student, with internet access. If a 1:1 ratio is not possible
with face-to-face students then form small groups accordingly.
Preparation: All students should have read the ACRL information literacy guidelines at http://
www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/standards/informationliteracycompetency.cfm prior to undertaking
the activity.
Task: Students should pick a non-abstract subject, well-defined, with which they are not already
familiar. Subjects can be allocated by the teacher, but it will be more effective if students can think
of their own. Suggestions can be given, such as:
• a historical figure
• an organ of the human body.
• a work of literature.
• a town or region.
In the hour available, they should quickly research and write a 500-word summary piece about it.
References within the piece should be cited.
Following this, students should be re-presented with the key 5 points in the ACRL guidelines and
asked, first, to self-reflect on how well they performed against each criterion.
Finally, they will come together in a group and share their self-assessment with the rest of the
group. The intention of this discussion is to critically analyse whether a “stepwise”, generalisable
definition of information literacy like the ACRL’s can cope with the complexity and contextdependence
of real-life information searches.
Follow-up: Students can be asked to post their 500-word reviews in a space for public
consumption, but this is not obligatory (the point of the activity is not that they write an exemplary
review, but that they reflect on their performance). However, it might prove an interesting
comparison if two or more students pick (or are allocated) the same subject.
Drafting and practising
The question of looking at drafts is a vexed one. On the one hand it is completely understandable
that students become anxious over the quality of their work and feel that it is fair that they should be
able to, at least, check with their tutor that they are on the right lines, particularly with a complex
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assignment like this one, and particularly when it represents 100% of their grade for a particular
course unit (which this one does). For part-time learners this will also be their first substantial
graded assessment.
On the other hand, there are some problems with simply declaring that I am happy to look at drafts
prior to submission. Some of these are simply logistical, that is, lack of time and a need to be fair to
all students and treat them equally, thus, I cannot happily review the drafts of some of you, then
later, announce to others that I haven’t time. Also there are some restrictions placed on me by the
university’s official assessment procedures.
There is a subtler problem here too, and I ask you to consider it, not just for this unit but for all
assessed work. Students often labour under the belief that their mark will automatically improve if a
draft is sent and commented on. My experience suggests this is not always the case. I realise many
of you seek reassurance, particularly if you are working with ideas that are new to you (and of
course many of these will be – for otherwise, why do the course in the first place?). But it is not
always easy to revise a piece in response to comments; once a piece of work is a fair way towards
completion, its form starts to become fixed, and not everyone has the time nor the emotional
confidence to radically revise a piece that they have already spent a great deal of time on. I will say
only this then: that the act of submitting a draft almost inevitably results in more work for you,
and this is work that will not automatically improve a mark.
The policy on DMIL is therefore that drafts of your portfolios will not be read by me (Drew)
prior to submission. However, let me make the following additional points, which I ask you to
note carefully:
* You are quite at liberty to use each other as sources of information — indeed, this is central to the
whole ethos of this course unit. Why not exchange papers with another student who also wants to
check the quality of their draft, and comment on each other’s work?
* There are a few course activities which are specifically designed to get you thinking about the
idea of teaching DMIL and justifying the way you do so. All these are specifically oriented
towards getting you thinking about your activities and commentary, and having ideas reviewed by
others. That’s why they’re in the course.
Originality
Obviously, the standard advice on originality applies, and it really can be boiled down to this: IF
YOU QUOTE, CITE. All words that are not your own must be clearly indicated as such, and a
reference supplied in the text and then a bibliography.
The important thing to note in this case is that this includes the activities you design. Some
students have in the past wanted to use things such as lesson plans or other materials or activities
created by others. I do not want to discourage the use of ‘external’ activities, because I realise there
are a great many good resources out there, and I do adhere to the principles of open access and
reusability. So the use of activities or materials designed by others is acceptable, but with the
following caveats:
1) the fact that the lesson plan is not original must be clearly indicated, and the source of the
lesson plan cited properly. This is very important. Not doing so is plagiarism, pure and simple.
2) the commentary must discuss why the lesson plan or plans were particularly and specifically
useful in your context
3) bear in mind that originality is one of the marking criteria for your portfolios and clearly, a
portfolio which uses copied lesson plans or other materials rather than original ones is going to be
marked down for doing so unless you show in the commentary that you are using it in a different
context than it was originally designed for and/or that it is particularly appropriate for your context
(hence note #2 above). But if you have just included someone else’s work because it saved you
time… this is not going to help your grade.
GRADING CRITERIA
These areas are equally weighted in the final grade. Consideration is also given to presentation and
quality of writing.
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T & L ACTIVITIES A (70%+) Original, creative activities, described comprehensively and clearly
B
(60-69%)
Activities may lack a certain originality but are interesting and clearly described
C
(50-59%)
Satisfactory activities but they may be unoriginal and/or not described clearly enough
D
(40-49%)
Weak activities, not at all clearly described and/or lacking in any originality or creativity.
E (below
40%)
Activities very weak, cursorily described or missing altogether.
JUSTIFICATION A (70%+) Activites are fully justified by the commentary, which makes interesting and pertinent points
about the deficits faced by the target audience and backs them up with reference to
literature or factual sources where appropriate.
B
60-69%)
Activities are justified by the commentary, which describes clearly the literacy deficits faced
by the target audience.
C
(50-59%)
The commentary tries to justify the activities but there are weaknesses either through failing
to clearly identify a target audience, lack of any reference to the literature, or weaknesses in
the arguments used.
D
(40-49%)
Insufficient justification of the activities by the commentary.
E (below
40%)
The activities are not at all justified by the commentary.
THEORETICAL
UNDERSTANDING
A (70%+) Full awareness is shown of the variation in the views of the literacies being addressed. The
framework is clearly presented as well as other theories or writings pertinent to the area of
concern; all are fully referenced. The full range of approaches is then addressed by the
activities.
B
(60-69%)
Correct use is made of the relevant theoretical framework, but there may not be much
attempt to go beyond this, and/or there might be slight gaps in understanding or application.
C
(50-59%)
Reference is made to key theories and writings in parts, but there is a lack of coherence,
and it is not clear how the activities address different aspects of literacy.
D
(40-49%)
Little awareness is shown of relevant theories or writings and where reference is made, the
discussion is inadequate.
E (below
40%)
No attempt is made to refer to theories or other writings on literacy.

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