Questioning the Answer

In this short video, Dr. Gail Bush from National Louis University talks about information and literacy. She states we’ve moved beyond information literacy toward information transliteracy, where the format becomes “literally irrelevant.” Dr. Bush says that in the 20th Century we were taught to “answer the question” but now we must “question the answer”

She speaks of the great challenge teachers face when trying to move the model from cognitive authority toward a more open model where the student model the learning habits of instructors and it makes me think about how that happens – or doesn’t – in a public library.

Transliteracies: Libraries as the Critical “Classroom”: Computers in Libraries 2011

Yesterday I had the honor of presenting with Gretchen Caserotti at Computers in Libraries over transliteracy and ways to understand, implement, and collaborate in your library.  Below are both of the slidedecks used.


 

 

Photos from the presentation courtesy of Courtney Young.

Transliteracy and Millennial Students’ Mental Models of Search

 

"Concept Mapping" (2009). CC image courtesy of yish on Flickr

One of the common criticisms of transliteracy is that “we can’t describe what a transliterate person looks like.” As far as I’m concerned, this is criticism is rooted in a simple category mistake: people aren’t transliterate, transliteracy is a cognitive function. That is, transliteracy is best understood as a cognitive skill or ability, one that can and should be emphasized in our information literacy curriculum. This is why I think that Lucy Holman’s recent article1 in The Journal of Academic Librarianship is especially important for those interested in transliteracy.

In the latest issue of the JAL, Holman has provided valuable, empirical research into the nature and content of the mental models used by student researchers. The concept of mental models has a long history in information literacy. For example, Holman references Brandt’s (1997) constructivist approach2 of “connecting students’ existing mental models (for example, use of a telephone directory) to that of an online index” (p. 20). Appealing to mental models is a core aspect of successful information literacy. Yet, as Holman’s research suggests, the most common approaches to information literacy instruction are rooted in a print-based mental model of online searching that is at odds with “millennials’ own mental models of Internet-based information retrieval with engines that more accurately and effectively parse a simpler, more natural language query” (pp. 25-26). Holman concludes by advocating that information literacy instruction shift focus from search strategies to evaluation, which is nothing new, but in rooting this shift in mental models she has provided an excellent proving ground for transliteracy-based instruction.

Put simply, students’ mental models of effective research practices are both poorly constructed and wildly divergent. Library instructors need to address this, and many do: the idea of connecting mental models (the telephone directory to online index example) is well-established in information literacy, but the increasing complexity (and the increasing number) of research avenues has lead to a need for a more nuanced approach that is independent of any particular mental model. If we could address how students construct and apply these models, it may make a world of difference in library instruction.

Elsewhere, I have argued that transliteracy is about linguistic competency, and one of the basic features of linguistic competency is the ability to construct mental models. Moreover, with each new information system or domain we encounter, we add to our available mental models. Google, Facebook, Twitter, smartphones, Quora, JSTOR, etc…each either creates a new mental model, or affects an existing mental model, of how an information system behaves. For example, my mental model of how Wikipedia works is playing a part in how I approach Quora. In turn, Quora itself might lead me to a new model of understanding information-seeking behavior. The ability to construct and evaluate effective mental models is key in transliteracy instruction, so it follows that transliteracy may yet prove itself as that more nuanced approach to addressing the problems Holman identifies.

Whether you like the term ‘transliteracy’ or not, Holman’s research provides substantive evidence that the underlying concepts are important.

1Holman, Lucy. “Millennial Students’ Mental Models of Search: Implications for Academic Librarians and Database Developers.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 37, no. 1 (2011): 19-27.

2Brandt, D. Scott. “Constructivism: Teaching for Understanding of the Internet.” Communications of the ACM 40, no. 10 (1997): 112-117.

Transliteracy and Libraries for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine

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Last week Bobbi and I had the pleasure of presenting Transliteracy and Libraries for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Southeastern/Atlantic Region.

This presentation was used to explain and inform people about the concept of Transliteracy but to also so how it is specific to the field of medical librarianship. Below are the slides from the presentation, in addition to this you can listen and watch the archived session here. Also, we would like to thank Dale Prince for asking use to share this with the medical library community.

Links to information mentioned in this presentation:

Pew Internet & American Life Project: Chronic Disease and the Internet

The iPad and Healthcare

Hitech Act

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Howard Rheingold on Social Media, Participative Pedagogy, and Digital Literacies

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I heard Howard Rheingold speak for the first time at Internet Librarian 2008. I wasn’t in Ohio for the CollabTech Summit his talk on Social Media, Particpative Pedagogy and Digital Literacies but thanks to the Internet and YouTube I can watch it now and so can you.

It is well worth the hour, go get a beverage and pen & paper for note taking and start watching.

Clive Thompson on the Language of Data

You’re Never Too Old for Transliteracy: Virginia and Her iPad

CNET puts the spotlight on how the iPad is more than just “shiny” with this story of Virginia Campbell, a 99 year old woman in Lake Oswego, Oregon, who is using her iPad to once again enjoy reading and share her poetry.    Ms. Campbell, who suffers glaucoma that impacts her vision, is once again able to interact with the written word and to compose her own verses.

While this story does not involve a library, it speaks to the possibilities of how circulating devices like an iPad can transform the lives and literacy practices of our elderly patrons, particularly those who cannot afford these devices. What if libraries even offered “home delivery” to patrons who are shut in and may not physically be able to come to the library to check out an iPad?

You can read more about Virginia’s story here and see the video below:

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