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Information literacy in the workplace: a small exploratory study Christine Irving - Glasgow Caledonian University information: interactions and impact.

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Presentation on theme: "Information literacy in the workplace: a small exploratory study Christine Irving - Glasgow Caledonian University information: interactions and impact."— Presentation transcript:

1 Information literacy in the workplace: a small exploratory study Christine Irving - Glasgow Caledonian University information: interactions and impact i3 conference Robert Gordon University 25 – 28 th June 207

2 Information literacy: definition Information literacy is knowing when and why you need information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner. The skills (or competencies) that are required to be information literate Require an understanding of: a need for information the resources available how to find information the need to evaluate results how to work with or exploit results ethics and responsibility of use how to communicate or share your findings how to manage your findings.

3 Way people interact with the Information and Knowledge content of today’s systems and services not surprising the Internet was in many cases the most used information resource - this is the way most organisations use to satisfy their information needs. however the research identified that employers are at risk of an over reliance on technology’s capacity to hold ever increasing amounts of information especially the organisation’s Intranet and the world wide web and underestimating their employees’ skills in managing, accessing and evaluating the information they find without suffering from information overload or only utilising the sources of information they are familiar with or find easy to use. “I’m sure that there are resources buried somewhere in the systems and archives but unbelievably it’s well nigh impossible and you only become aware of specific information because someone thinks that’s worthwhile pushing onto everyone’s desktop.”

4 Levels of information literacy skills and competencies interviewees felt that these skills and competencies were very / extremely important at work and that it was expected that people had these skills although employers are not explicitly looking for information literacy skills and competencies by name they are assuming that employees will come with these skills the individuals in this small study felt that they had some of the skills and competencies either to a degree or in part although there was an indication that for some their evaluation skills particularly of Internet resources could be improved upon “Well sometimes it’s quite difficult because in the past I found some material on a website that looked like a reliable source and then I later discovered that it wasn’t.”

5 Training received Generally, they had not received any formal training at work to assist them in using any of these resources as demonstrated by the following comments: In house learning – by example, watching and listening to other people. No, (laugh) you just pick these things up as you go along. At university In terms of Internet training the actual use of the Internet in terms of using search engines - acceptable use policy No. I’m a huge fan of Google and there’s very little information that I’ve ever required that I’ve not been able to get to.

6 How the level of skills and competencies varies in the different working environments Requires further research on a larger scale than this exploratory study. However what did come through in the study was that the quantity surveyor seemed to place a higher level of value and importance on information in relation to his job than the other interviewees did. For him these skills were “essential tools” for his job and his view that “an employee with higher information literacy skills is more useful to an employer than one who hasn’t”. This suggests that a person’s profession plays a key role of their view of and relationship with information and subsequently the level of information literacy skills and competencies required.

7 Findings reflect literature as JISC (2005) highlight ‘there is increasing evidence that our information skills are not keeping pace in any systematic fashion [and] we all need help to develop the techniques we use, often unconsciously, to handle information in our daily lives’. There is therefore a need for these skills to be formally recognised …and programmes developed as indicated by Gerber (1998) that are ‘relevant to the workplace, policy requirements and to the workers’ learning style’ (p.175).

8 Findings reflect literature Bruce (1999) cites information overload as one of the nine real-life inabilities and that this inefficiency is partly due to employee’s lack of information literacy skills. With the vast amount of information delivered to them through multiple channels and in a wide variety of formats, individuals need to become information literate

9 Conclusions as Cheuk (2002) identifies, information literacy is still in its infancy stages and ’more applied research should be conducted in the workplace settings to qualitatively and quantitatively demonstrate the costs to business if the employees lack information literacy skills’ (p10). The building blocks for information literacy should start at school with a skill set which further and higher education can recognise and develop or which can be applied to the world of work directly. Within the workplace we can not look at information literacy in isolation we need to be aware of adult literacies, work-based learning, the learning organisation, learning theories and styles, formal and informal learning, knowledge management

10 References Bruce, C.S. (1999) Workplace experiences of information literacy. International Journal of Information Management, 19(1) pp Cheuk, B. (July 2002) Information literacy in the workplace context : issues, best practices and challenges, White paper prepared for UNESCO, the US National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, and the National Forum on Information Literacy, for use at the Information Literacy Meeting of Experts, Prague, The Czech Republic. [online] Available from: [Accessed 11 May 2005] Euart, M. (2007) Early career learning at work and its implications for Universities. BJEP article / paper supplied for Glasgow Caledonian University, Caledonian Academy - New Reading Group, 29th March Gerber, R. (1998) How do workers learn in the workplace? Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol.16 (1 / 2), pp

11 References Irving. C. & Crawford. J. (2006) Begin at school. Library + Information Update, 5 (1-2). Irving, C., (2006) The identification of information literacy skills which students bring to university, Library and Information Research (LIR), 30(96) pp JISC (2005) Investing in staff i-skills: a strategy for institutional development: compiled for JISC by Alison McKenzie, Manchester Metropolitan University [online]. Available from: Investing-v1-09.pdf [Accessed 11 May 2005] Lloyd, A. (2003) Information literacy: the meta-competency of the knowledge economy? An exploratory paper. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, Vol. 35 (2), pp Mackenzie, A. & Makin, L. (2003) Beyond student instruction: information skills for staff. New Review of Academic Librarianship, Vol. 9 (1) pp

12 For more information Christine Irving Research Assistant / Project Officer (part-time) The Scottish Information Literacy Project Learner Support Glasgow Caledonian University Room RS305, (3rd Floor) 6 Rose Street Glasgow G3 6RB Tel: project website:


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