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Articles for the European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL)

ECIL 2013

The first European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL) took place on 22-25 October 2013, in Istambul, Turkey. I proposed two papers for this conference and I had the opportunity to get both accepted. This was an important milestone in my career to have two papers selected for the same conference, among the quite impressive sample from Iberoamerican works, Alejandro Uribe Tirado counted 23 contributions, in a conference with an European focus. Athough I could not attend the conference, both these papers were presented by my coauthors and they got published by Springer in the conference proceedings ‘Worldwide Commonalities and Challenges in Information Literacy Research and Practice’. In the following paragraphs you will find the information of both articles and some bullet points about them.

9783319039183

1. Machin-Mastromatteo, J., Lau, J., Virkus, S. (2013). Participatory action research and information literacy: Revising an old new hope for research and practice. Worldwide Commonalities and Challenges in Information Literacy Research and Practice: Communications in Computer and Information Science, 397, pp. 48-53.

  • Slides available!
  • Tracks and rebuilds a research agenda integrating information literacy with participative methodologies (E.g. action research).
  • It deals with some topics that are also dealt with on my own PhD research, although on a meta level
  • Develops and presents a questionnaire for worldwide experts that is being answered at this moment. You can still answer this questionnaire and share it with your colleagues!
  • It studies the future contributions of this perspectives for the advance of information literacy
  • Sheila Webber wrote a nice post about this research on her blog, thanks!

2. Machin-Mastromatteo, J., Virkus, S. (2013). Doing Online Relearning through Information Skills:  A Mutual Shaping Perspective for Information Literacy Research and PracticeWorldwide Commonalities and Challenges in Information Literacy Research and Practice: Communications in Computer and Information Science, 397, pp. 380-385.

  • Slides available!
  • It’s part of my PhD research, it integrates social media in a learning experience, discovering the role of information literacy in such integration.
  • The research and methodological framework ‘Doing Online Relearning through Information Skills’ is presented.
  • It advances a conceptual, epistemological and methodological understanding that is important for online learning activities.
  • This particular article discusses the conceptual idea of mututal shaping in this research

International Colloquium on Alternative Models of Learning and Access

Coloquio

On September 19, 2013, CETYS Universidad hosted the International Colloquium ‘Higher Education: Alternative Models of Learning and Access’ and I had the opportunity of moderating its second panel ‘How to successfully swim in learning new schemes Info – skills, MOOCs, ICT and other technologies’. I dedicated some words of introduction to this interesting topic from my perspective as a librarian and as an academic and I also presented the panel’s speakers: Alison Hicks and Jesús Lau.

I wanted to share with you some of my notes of introduction to this session:

  • Although my background is in Library and Information Science, I have been interested in technology and education since I graduated from my bachelor studies on Librarianship, as you may see if you read this blog. I have not been able to study or use Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), although they are perhaps one of the most important conceptual and technological innovations regarding alternative models of education.
  • MOOCs are massive, imagine having hundreds or thousand of students; they are open, as they follow the philosophy of openness; and they are online, after all they are courses, online courses.
  • MOOCs are quite interesting as an alternative model, as they may provide universal access to the university, which might have lost its way regarding its uni prefix.
  • I see that MOOCs have plenty of opportunities and challenges for those teaching them and learning from them, some of them have to do with the competences individuals must develop to deal with them, to develop a strong discipline when it comes to study and for managing one’s own time.
  • Information and digital literacies play a very important role when dealing with MOOCs as well as processes of academic certification and rigor, which acquire a new and perhaps more demanding dimension because MOOCs differ a great deal from classic courses.
  • I believe MOOCs must be oriented and grounded on research and problem solving assignments, and that takes a very special academic to lead them. A special type of course needs special teachers and special students and they can be taught special competences for dealing with them. Training would involve various university departments, such as research, the academia, and the university libraries.
  • It is interesting to point out the importance of the focus of this panel, where we have two librarians as guest speakers, Jesús Lau and Alison Hicks, as well as myself, the Learning and Information Development Librarian of CETYS Universidad, having the honor of introducing the topic in discussion and our distinguished guests. I believe that this configuration of speakers is quite a statement from CETYS’ part, because it means that libraries and librarians must be integrated as part of the engine of educational innovations. One clear path to follow is through information and digital literacies but we must question and enhance libraries’ role in breaking educational ground.

You can take a look at the whole session, which was recorded. I also prepared a Spanish/English bibliography on MOOCs, higher education and skills for this Colloquium.

Participatory action research in the age of social media: Literacies, affinity spaces and learning

PAR NLW Machin

Past November I published in the journal New Library World my article titled ‘Participatory action research in the age of social media: Literacies, affinity spaces and learning’, today I’m pleased to offer everyone an open access version, courtesy of the publisher of the journal, which allows an author version to be published in a repository, so of course you may find it in E-LIS. You can find the journal article here as well.

This article is very important for me, as it is the first time I present officially the research framework from my PhD research ‘Doing Online Relearning through Information Skills’ (DORIS). This research framework is originally intended to study the roles of information literacy, digital literacy, and new literacies in technology mediated (specifically social media) education environments. The abstract of this article is as follows:

This article summarizes the developments, methodological design, and some of the theories framed within a PhD research about the integration of social media in higher education. Its aims are to determine significant issues, challenges and opportunities that emerge when social media are integrated into learning environments in higher education. ‘Doing Online Relearning through Information Skills’ (DORIS) is proposed as a research framework to address the aims, objectives, and research questions of this study. It was conceived from a Participatory Action Research perspective. This approach is intended to help discover and reflect upon teaching and learning practices in a technologically mediated educational setting. Furthermore, the concept of affinity spaces is discussed, together with its distinction from the concept of communities of practice. The data collection methods planned to conduct the study are: diagnostic questionnaire, blog, social learners’ input and reports, a second questionnaire, and semi-structured interviews. The theory of affinity spaces offers a powerful way of thinking about teaching and learning processes mediated by different technologies. The heuristics that will focus the data collection and analysis are: a) on the function of content, and b) on the function of participants’ interactions with the content and/or with one another. DORIS is proposed as a powerful way to organize learning interventions through the structure of information literacy skills. It is grounded on action research and on constructivist, blended, and problem based learning. Researchers, librarians or educators can adapt this model for teaching, learning and researching about and with social media or for other technologically mediated learning environments, or could be adapted for information literacy programs.

DORIS at Library 2.012

I will be presenting my doctoral research on the (free) Worldwide Virtual Conference Library 2.012. The presentation name is “Doing Online Relearning through Information Skills (DORIS): Contributions for Information Literacy Programs”. This research in a nutshell is about the integration of social media into higher education and the discovery of the roles that information, digital and new literacies play in such integration. This presentation focuses on the contributions that my research can provide to information literacy programs. You may find information about my session and the schedule of the conference according to your timezone.

I offer you the slides, the link to the recording of my session, as well as the audio file. Cheers!

Present at the IV Latinamerican Encounter of Librarians, Archivists and Museologists (EBAM)

I arrived at Buenos Aires, where I will present my PhD research for the first time in Spanish at the IV Latinamerican encounter of librarians, archivists and museologists (EBAM). My presentation was called (translated) “Doing online relearning through information skills (DORIS): Contributions for social research, information literacy programs and pedagogies”. This was an excellent opportunity of presenting my research in Spanish for the first time with my return to Latin America. Very nice to do this in a regional conference that gathered professionals from these three related fields.

In the presentation, I reflected upon the origin of this research: a) as an extension of the emerging topic from my master thesis about the use of social media for ‘serious’ purposes and b) as a return or combination with my previous research interest: information literacy.

I offer this research as a contribution to the understanding about the use of technology for higher education. Moreover, provide pedagogical contributions for information professionals wishing to expand upon them, because we librarians and related professionals are not prepared for this role in our typical curricula. It is important to highlight that in order to develop a good information literacy program and to continue following our new role of teachers or instructors, we need to: 1) a sound structure to develop such programs and 2) to develop pedagogic skills.

The slides and the full text are in the Spanish version of the blog, in Spanish, of course.

And here is a picture with Mafalda!! :D

DORIS at Learning 2.0

I will be presenting my doctoral research on the (free) Worldwide Virtual Conference Learning 2.0. The presentation name is ” Doing Online Relearning through Information Skills (DORIS): Using social media in higher education”. This research in a nutshell is about the integration of social media into higher education and the discovery of the roles that information, digital and new literacies play in such integration. This presentation focuses on the contributions that my research can provide to pedagogies involving the use of technology, specifically social media. You may find information about my session here.

I give you the slides, the link to the recording of my session, as well as the audio file.

On a second half of a course in Gothenburg

This post is a sequel to On a first half of a course in Gothenburg

I came back from the second meeting in Gothenburg for the course on participatory media. It was very nice because I could take Doris with me this time, so she could see a piece of Sweden in person.

I’m really thankful to the University of Gothenburg and all academics associated with this particular course (and another one I took in 2010), as it was the fourth time I went to Sweden for academic affairs and swedes have really made me feel at home, enhancing my motivations to go on, sharing interesting ideas, and overall spending a good time as colleagues.

For this meeting I prepared a paper (which was a little messy) about the concepts of engagement and affinity spaces (James Paul Gee) within my own PhD research. An interesting fact is that I got to meet Etienne Wenger in a seminar in Tallinn University just before leaving for Gothenburg, it was nice to present to him an extremely short overview of my research, however, and perhaps most importantly is that I got his blessing to detach my research from the theory of community of practice and use affinity spaces instead. I mainly decided towards this course of action as Gee really makes good points into when it’s good to go for one or another.

The most promising direction to go with for this course paper, is to further develop this paper with the concept of affinity spaces, which I am doing now. I believe when I’m done I will look to publish it, but more on that later…

Next, I will just share some interesting and disorganized ideas I wrote down during this second meeting:

People lack concepts to describe social media practices, this is pretty evident if you do practice oriented or behavioral research with people on social media or other technological topics. I believe that nearly everything you do with technology tends to be under an automatic “pilot function” of our brains. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that we mostly learn by doing in our connected lifestyles. For example, tell me how do you search for further information for some piece of news you just saw on your social sites… there is no straightforward answer to that, and you might run into more obstacles with one topic than with another. Or for example, speak to me about how you decide to share something with one friend or another, and what is the best way you could do it. This statement relates to my research in some way, and there are two ways to do this research at a conceptual level regarding my interactions with the participants, I can either give no concepts at all and have them explain to the best of their knowledge what they are doing and what are their challenges, and then try to figure out of the data, where do every bit of their answers fit into a conceptual framework. The other direction, which is the one I would take, is to initiate participants to concepts, but not in the sense that they have to accept these concepts. Rather, to mediate them and reach a common understanding with them about the concepts. For example, we need to speak on similar terms about information literacy, digital literacy, and new literacies. I have to figure out where on the Cambridge Companion to Vygotsky is the quote: “concepts are tools to reflect and act”, as none can say it better.

Really funny statement: “KGB style VLEs, as they see data about everything” what can I say? It’s funny that I am meeting people who dislike VLEs (Virtual Learning Environments) aka LMSs (Learning Management Systems) just as me. And I finally found out an article which don’t speak highly of them. I love this quote so much in said article: they “attempt to render the online learning space familiar through a conservative dependence on predigital metaphors.” Apart from the fact that they are basically surveillance systems is the fact that their design is top down, usually made by IT guys who have little or a really huge imagination, often disconnected with any criteria of accessibility, usability, and/or information architecture. Too many clicks, clumsy, labels don’t make sense, all operations are overly redundant…

Another cool quote: “technology is there to suck the information out of us”, this is a very interesting statement about social networking technologies, because really, this technology is put into place to get information from you, everything is based on your real life profile (the use of the real life you is encouraged anyway). Interestingly, and within my research, where I have to discuss on one side the content I organized for the study and the interactions among participants, I find that the difference between content and interactions is very fuzzy when it comes to social media (and by extension a research on social media), you could almost say that one is another! Funny how we could see The Matrix metaphor on Facebook, where you are the product.

Web 2.0 is a technical concept/descriptor which refers more to the technological platform and the technical aspects of the net which makes it 2.0, and this term is less and less visible in the literature. Rather, we can use a wide variety of names, like social media and remix culture, participatory culture, which are more social oriented or content terms.

Remnants of the old media/old culture survive/clash with new media, I have said before – though I’m not sure if in the blog- that this is a very interesting time to live in because of these tensions, among other things of course. More than once we can take a look at how television is trying to be a social media or to emulate web-like devices. When, at the beginning, Youtube was somehow modeled after old media. We can see this tension also looking at the relevance of newspapers and newspaper-like old media in front of news blogs, and specially RSS, which can be tailored to suit any taste. Digital devices which, for many reasons, can be more effective/likeable ways to get your news. Also thinking about this, it’s very interesting as Rick Falkvinge points out the fact that young people “take sharing in the connected world so totally for granted, that they discard any signals to the contrary as ‘old-world nonsense'”

The issue that “educational research doesn’t get done because of the issue of informed consent.” This is a big challenge, of course I’m not saying that you should jump over ethical and privacy considerations. This challenge is present in any kind of research with people, and it’s funny how social science, information science or educational research doesn’t involve any blood sampling or anything, but anyway it’s difficult to get volunteers for it. I know it very well, as some differences of opinion and organizational policies proved catastrophical for my research and delayed it for some months. And it’s something that some of the literature on action research on education talks about: the difficulty to do traditional research from education, the design of research, consent from the participants, to do it without compromising your time as a teacher, the difficulty of documenting it, and let’s not talk about how badly some circles view action research. However, it’s a shame if research in education can’t be done easily, as academia needs to be researched on and renewed. An action research perspective is extremely important, as critical practice leads to understand power and oppression. Perhaps (and I have faith in this) by really telling students what and why you are researching, you will get some students to participate in your studies sooner or later.

If there is informal learning, then there is informal teaching! This was an interesting discussion within the course. If you could learn informally, say, reading Wikipedia articles, then, I believe that for example people guiding others in forums or teaching how to play guitar on Youtube are informal teachers. They are not necessarily doing this while attached to their regular duties within an organization, they are mostly doing this for free, because they like to (or just ’cause). The motivations of these kinds of users might be a very interesting topic to research.

Two distinct narratives regarding the nature of social media, one as a real communication media (different than one way media like TV or Radio), really connecting people, with an emancipatory potential, enhancing and encouraging collaboration and sharing; the other a dark one, being a covert instrument of control and surveillance. Funny though, these two narratives are not mutually exclusive. We can see that, either in eastern and the western countries, governments have been enforcing control (or censorship) over the Internet, over different things, and for many different reasons (Falkvinge summarizes this last point wonderfully) BUT, governments tend to be not as tech proficient as people, and their protection from harm can have serious privacy and ethical implications. Which takes me to the next point.

V for Vendetta, I can’t take it off of my mind when dealing with this topics of control and surveillance, this comic book is perhaps as important for these times as 1984 has been for more than 50 years. Even if V is pre-social media, it’s a great textbook for this age of social media, activism, whistleblowing, Pirate Parties, and the awakening of the people in general.

This got a little too long, what do you think?

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