This image is called ‘Standing on the shoulders of Giants’. It is my son on the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland but it is accompanying this blog post because of the title and in acknowledgement of how much I have learned from two of my friends and colleagues.

I have waited years for an opportunity to articulate my thoughts on learning literacies in a way that may be heard.

As a librarian in the education field I have always been concerned with information literacy. What used to really drive me potty in the Higher Education institutions I worked in were the barriers I had to break down to get academic teams to engage with this and see it as crucial for their students (whether undergraduates or postgraduates).

I had the occasional coup and got invited onto some course planning meetings to discuss the potential for integrating information literacy within the curricula. The needs of Distance Learning Students was always a useful way in to these discussions. So was broadening the defintion of information literacy (seen by many academic colleagues as being library literacy – how to use the catalogue!) to include plagiarism, critical literacy and digital literacy. I tried to get people to use the term Learning Literacies as a way of not thinking in narror terms… often a lone voice with little or no impact… I eventually moved into elearning work but was still concerned with working towards embedding learning literacies within the curricula.

I was really pleased to recently join two brilliant colleagues to undertake a study into learning literacies for JISCHelen Beetham and Allison Littlejohn. The intellectual rigour and research experience that they brought to the study was fantastic and I found it a great learning experience. The study has just been completed and is available to download as a pdf document. It is fairly extensive so we have also produced an Executive summary.

We have also presented the report on our project wiki which includes the tools and some best practice snapshots.

The study examined the following issues:

  • What skills and aptitudes we should be focusing on (current frameworks for learning literacies)
  • How these requirements may be changing due to new demands and opportunities
  • What provision is currently being made at a snapshot of UK HE and FE institutions
  • What examples of excellent practice we can identify which point the way towards better provision and more effective learner support

I really enjoyed working with Helen and Allison – the study certainly offered value for money with a series of institutional audits and snapshots of best practice to augment the desk based research.

The report includes some general recommendations as listed below (these recommendations are expanded on in the report….). There are also recommendations around institutional provision and some specific recommendations for JISC.

But look at number 2 and 5 – and it’s not just me saying it….

1.Tutors need to be proactive in helping learners to develop learning and digital literacies

2. Learning and digital literacies need to be embedded into the curriculum

3. Learners need to be engaged in their own development

4. Academic staff need to be engaged in rethinking their own knowledge practices

5. Information literacy needs to be broadened to include – or needs to be supplemented with – communication and media literacies

6. Employability needs to be more carefully and critically defined

I hope you enjoy reading the report – do get back to us if you have any queries or comments.