Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Hannah Hauxwell - Postscript: “Neuromyths”

Dr Martin Westwell’s keynote speech on the exciting possibilities for the “future of the mind”, was, for me, one of the highlights of the conference. I was disappointed, however, to hear him dismiss learning styles as a “neuromyth”.
I would like to say a few things in defence of multiple intelligences theory (MI). Unlike some learning styles approaches, MI is a psychological theory first and a pedagogy second. Gardner demonstrates that the theory is based on sound evidence from many fields of study. Also, he argues that the concept of IQ itself is not as robust as is sometimes claimed.
Learning styles can be applied in quite superficial ways, such as the “visual learners’ table” mentioned by Dr Westwell; effective application of multiple intelligences theory is more subtle and more complex than this. MI provides a vocabulary for teaching and learning, and is useful for describing and analysing information scenarios. For examples, trends towards greater use of multimedia can be seen as a broadening of approach to encompass more than the traditional “academic” intelligences. Thus I believe that MI can be a useful tool for reflection, even if its scientific veracity is not universally accepted.
Hannah Hauxwell
June 2007

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Parallel Session 6A - Information interactions in community and society

Finally - time to blog!!! It's a pity that it's the last day! I will over the next few days go back and write about some of the other sessions, but issues from this one are buzzing at the moment.

Lynn Connaway (OCLC)'s paper Focusing on change: connecting to both Millennials and Baby Boomers looked at the results from 2 collaborative projects she had been a part of, looking at different information preferences of the 2 groups. Among the most striking perhaps was the fact that the younger group of Millenials - the "Screenagers" (a digitally-native group who can't remember life without computers) think that "email is for old people".

Just falling in the the category of Millenial (albeit the older cohort) by the skin of my teeth, I find this topic really interesting. The ideas from the paper resonate with Martin Westwell's keynote on Tuesday, which I can safely say blew away the vast majority of those in attendance, and ideas from the first plenary. As an active Bebo user for about 18 months (tried myspace, didn't like it), I am a bit torn by the "Geography Teacher at the 6th Form Disco" analogy. I can see the value of getting in where people are so that we are visible, but also that we might turn people off by doing so.

I registered with facebook yesterday morning following Martin's revelation that "this is where all the kids had moved on to". I've also been following a long discussion on various social networking issues on the AoIR discussion list, so experimenting with the site has been on my mind for a while. Perhaps surprisingly to most readers here, the first thing that happened was that I was "poked" by my mother!

My mother (now 59) is also active on bebo, initially through myself and my younger sister, but has also begun to use it. She is a Chemistry academic, and also runs an well-used departmental bebo page for both current and former students. So I don't think that social networking sites and young people's spaces need be a Library and Information no-go area, we just need to make sure that anything we do is not a tokenistic gesture, as they'll see right through us.

The abstract is located at , and the presentation should also be available shortly.

Grant Campbell also presented some very thought provoking preliminary ideas about the possibilities of designing information systems for those suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Hearing from various angles that the profession are constantly "playing catch-up" with new technologies, I feel that this is an instance where we very much can and should take the lead - there's something here that we finally have the head's up on, and if we start now this could be an extremely valuable development.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Posts on session 6B

I have blogged about issues from a session I chaired here, in my previous post. I have also blogged about the papers themselves on my own blog:

This means I spent the afternoon in a computer lab (see photo) without blue light instead of in a nice distillery ......

Issues from Parallel Session 6B

I am blogging here about issues from the session I chaired this morning. Agneta Lantz and Christina Brage talked about Information Literacy: from theory to practical implications and Hesham Azmi presented Critical appraisal of information literacy programs: an evidence based approach to assess an Information and Research Skills course in Qatar University.

As session chair I had the task of identifying “three issues or implications arising for research” from the session and “One question to address in the final plenary”. All session chairs have been asked to do this, and as well as some of the questions being used in the final plenary, the issues will also be used in compiling the issue of Libri that will contain some of the full papers from the conference.

At the end of the session I asked participants if they had some suggestions. I only scribbled a few notes, and so I might have misinterpreted things. If anyone who was in the session reads this, I’d be grateful if they add any comments they have! Below are my proposals for the 3 issues, one question, and a "reserve" issue.

One issue I identified was:
1. “The need for discussion in the information literacy community on the nature of evidence” (as in – Evidence Based Librarianship, or Evidence Based Practice). It seems to me that this EBL movement is putting too much emphasis on quantitative methods, and are judging qualitative research using quantiative approaches, which is inappropriate and fails, in fact, to help distinguish between excellent and less excellent quaslitative research. When there is so much interest in looking at the “impact” or “effectiveness” of IL education, this is particularly unfortunate, since it is evident from the (voluminous) educational research literature that qualitative research approaches are important. “Taking” information literacy education is not like “taking” a drug to fight a disease.

Hesham had made some good points which I would agree with e.g. that the IL literature has a lot of descriptive studies and far fewer that clearly present research evidence (see the ppt I gave at the LILAC conference where I was presenting on this point ;-) However – is it, for example, important that we should be homing in on using specific research methods so we can get a lot of comparable studies? Is replication desirable – or even possible given that every cohort of students is different? A very interesting debate ensued at the end of the session I chaired. This is something which has been talked through more in the Information Behaviour community, but the IL research community has different research questions and concerns, so personally I think it is a worthwhile debate. Thanks to Hesham for stirring this debate.
The other issues suggested were as follows:
2. “Creating a vocabulary for information literacy and information behaviour” both for our own purposes, and also for those outside the information field to use when engaging with these areas.
One confusion that was mentioned was the use of the word “research” to mean “search” (as in “research skills” meaning skills in seeking and selecting information). Certainly I have found this an issue: when we asked our first year students last semester what they thought “research” was, most of them gave definitions that were mostly about “search”. I can’t really blame them, since if they have looked at the IL literature they will have seen “research skills” often used in that way. Personally I think that with centrally important concepts like IL and IB themselves you will always get a variety of subtly different definitions as they are evolving concepts and people are positioning themselves in the field. However, then can be broad agreement, particularly when you look at how we present ourselves and our research domains to others. In her keynote Amanda Spink identified “help people learn and think more about their Information Behaviour” as a key research challenge, with “giving people a vocabulary” as part of that. So this is extending that to IL.

3. “How to reach educational administrators” – the research issue here is perhaps the need for more research about their approach to information literacy – or into what would persuade them to focus more on IL in their institutional planning and policy. Thinking about this I am reminded that it is not always (or even generally?) the “rational” arguments that influence managers in decision making! I remember a presentation at the lifelong learning conference in Australia where it was shown how little Government policy is influenced by relevant research (in any field)!

The next emerged as an issue, but I think it makes a nice question for the final plenary:
Question: “How can we create an international forum to share experience of IL research and associated issues: expanding on and continuing discussion at this conference” Obviously there are lots of fora for sharing news etc. about information literacy – but perhaps there needs to be something particularly focusing on research issues. A wiki? A facebook group? ;-)

Also raised as an issue was the following. I will make it the “reserve” issue since I think it did come up a bit at the first plenary session:
Reserve question: “How to teach the teachers to teach IL
Photos by Sheila Webber: Top - poster session; 2nd photo - sporran in a Dundee shop window, June 2007.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007


I'm blogging the conference partly on my own blog, the Information Literacy Weblog, so I'll partly be doing posts here and partly posting links to my blog. Because I hadn't blogged for a couple of days on my own blog I've done a post there, about Malin Oglund's talk that I just attended. My post about this is at
At the moment I think it's just as well I'm here rather than in flooded Sheffield! The photo is of the train that it turned out wasn't to Aberdeen, taken whilst diverted to Springburn station because of the landslide outside Glasgow Queen Street station (I travelled here via Glasgow and Dundee).

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Conference Registration

We look forward to welcoming everyone to the i3 conference. Instructions for registration are as follows:

The conference is to be held at The Department of Information Management, Aberdeen Business School, The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen and will run from the 25-28 June 2007. Aberdeen Business School is located on the Garthdee Campus of The Robert Gordon University, to the south of the city. You will find maps of the location, and details of how to get here, on our website at

For those travelling by public transport from the city centre, bus numbers 1, 2 or 9 run from Union Street to Garthdee, departing from any of the designated bus stops on the south side of Union Street. The bus will take approximately 30 minutes from Union Street and will cost approximately £1.80. For those who wish, we will also be providing a coach to pick up delegates from three points in the city on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings. Details will be provided in delegates’ packs.

Registration will take place between 11.00 am and 1.00 pm on Monday 25th June in the reception area of Aberdeen Business School. For those not attending the conference on Monday, a registration desk will be in place in the Aberdeen Business School throughout the conference, between 8.45 and 9.15 and at break times on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings.


The i3 Conference Committee