30 March 2009

LILAC09: Keynote by Melissa Highton

Melissa Highton, Learning Technologies Group, Oxford University Computing Services, Oxford

Challenging the view and questions about the place of Oxford and Cambridge in a diverse education system.

Learning technologists and information literacy should work together and save the world!

Managing the flamingo: Alice in Wonderland. Every time she tried to play, the flamingo or the hedgehog would be difficult. An analogy for getting all the parts of your library or your IT & Library to work together and get them on the same page.
Maximum leverage.

Oxford’s conference on Digital Literacy

Can you be digitally literate without being information literate? Can you be information literate without being digitall literate? Are they the same? Do they have overlap? If so, in what ways are we letting the two conversations continue together.
Who will write the framework for digital literacy? Use the Wikipedia pages to build a definition of digital literacy.

Oxford & Cambridge:
Autonomy within the organization.
Oxford Libraries: 11 million printed items, the largest library system in the UK
How do you categorize and organize information in such a large system? How do you argue for funding for your needs against the goals of the larger institutions?
Publishing new content, generating new ideas. How do we change information efficiently or effectively? Rethink authority—the authority’s view and perspective changes too!

Lead in new ways of learning.
Encourage student to think differently about information, research, and presentation. How can do a better job getting students to do these things.
What should digital literacy look like in a higher education setting? Should it be taking the place of history? Of literature? Shouldn’t we change our approach of incorporating the literacies into the curriculum rather than thinking it needs to be separated out?

The language of student skills and information literacy has changed very little in the last ten years. We are tied too closely to what we think employers want.
What are the 21st Century skills?
Who should be shaping the debate about digital literacies?

How will institutions change in the recession? Continuing education.

“YouTube is single handedly saving us from boring presentations.”
Where is the differentiation between your content and mine.

We are preparing students for jobs that don’t exist, to use technology not yet invented, to solve problems we don’t yet have. In staff development, we develop staff for jobs they already have, to use technology we already know, to solve problems we largely already understand. If we are taking this long, if we are struggling this much, then we should acknowledge that some of it has to do with what we do and how we do it. Let’s question that!

The influx of international colleagues. What efforts are you making to accommodate international academic staff and international students? Who is giving advice to students? Are we being aware and effective in those settings and meeting their needs truly? Are we giving training that is consistent?

How are we internationalizing our curriculum?

Thinking about staff:
What do you do when knowledge is power and colleagues withhold that information or are purposefully making it difficult to find in order to hold on to power.
How information can be abused, not just used. See the world around us. Information is used for decision making , incl. bad decisions. We might want to teach the “light” end of infomraiton literacy but make them equally aware of the “dark” end. A Machiavellian approach to IL. Presenting information to show yourself in the best light. Recast what you know about information to manipulate it. What digital natives do already, do they know it? Do they realize the impact of those actions?

High level information literacy skills.
1. Modeling literacy: the role of information in decision making. We must know what the models senior decision makers see, how are those models used, how are those models understood. Interpret and manipulate information in models. Oxford’s Modeling for All
Making use of their gaming skills. Is modeling literacy already present and we need to leverage those skills more carefully and wisely. Digital wisdom

2. Open content literacy: accommodate a diversity of technical platforms. Who licenses it? Who gives permissions? Open educational resources is more than open access. Different levels of comfort around different kinds of materials/content. Use/reuse/ adapt: what is the context of using others’ materials? How much is too much? Support students as they how they use and find open material and understand how to use those licenses AND recognize that students generate material and need to know how to license it as they want! We should be aware of and teaching Creative Commons. Forseeing YouTube as a hub of educational activity, similar to what iTunes (iTunes U) is becoming. How do index open source teaching tools—an opportunity for us all.

Oxford currently offering 500+ lectures (talks and seminars that are a one time thing) and materials in iTunes U with a complementary web portal. Joseph Stiglitz/Gordan Brown

iTunes U as a tipping point at Oxford around podcasting. It is a way of publishing and sharing information. Does that make them digitally literate/information literate/media literate?

The Grand Tour = exposure to the cultural legacy. In the digital age, that is open to EVERYONE, not just the rich and aristocratic. Democratization of information. Grand Tour Learning. Google is NOT making us stupid…it can make us a hell of a lot smarter.

The continuum of openness.

If we are going to solve big problems, we need to pull content and materials out of educational silos . Librarians can help index and break apart those huge chunks of knowledge. We can provide guidance to how that information is shared, is distributed, is licensed or not.


Open educational resources and the spectrum of reactions to these initiatives. Are we touting our horns too soon? MIT’s courseware is spotty, not comprehensive, and at times not maintained. Is podcasting the same as truly sharing resources?
Know what content you have and what content is available. Find a starting place and grow it. Quite the same as the research process: steps, looping back, changing, iterative. Leveraging the University’s goals: publicity, marketing.

How do you deal with competition of big institutions putting up a lot of content? What is the incentive for smaller institutions that only offering a few lectures?

Just as a side note: I feel pretty young in this room and the twitter stream is pretty quiet. But Melissa Highton was terrific! Very thought provoking and very exciting. I am officially excited about this conference.

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