Shared skills community of practice supports information literacy and technological agility

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“We live in an increasingly digital environment and our students must possess a specific skill set to function in society and be successful in any career,” says Jian Qin, professor and director of the Masters of Library Science and information sciences at iSchool. . “It is essential that we think about how we find and acquire information, how information is evaluated and disseminated, and how we can do these things efficiently and ethically. “

That’s why Qin and Kelly Delevan, Information Literacy Librarians at Syracuse University Libraries, are leading the new Information Literacy and Technology Agility (ILTA) Shared Competencies Community of Practice. The group is made up of faculty and staff from across the University to share teaching / learning experiences and create shared learning outcomes for undergraduates. This community of practice is part of how the University implements Shared Competencies, six institutional learning goals that enhance undergraduate education through an integrated learning approach.

As endorsed by the University Senate, the shared competence framework language Information Literacy and Technological Agility describes the skills that students should be able to demonstrate upon graduation: “Identification , collection, evaluation and responsible use of information. Effective, ethical and critical application of various technologies and media in academic, creative, personal and professional endeavors.

“As a university librarian who thinks about information literacy all the time, it’s really exciting to collaborate with professors at the university to look at not only university courses that enhance these skills, but also extracurricular experiences. “said Delevan.

One of the goals of the ILTA Community of Practice is to create ways for teachers to be explicit about what they are trying to accomplish with class assignments. By directly linking an assignment to a shared skill, students gain a better understanding of why their instructor is assigning a project or exercise and the skills it is supposed to improve. In the long run, students can use this knowledge to tell their story to potential employers and graduate programs; they are able to map out a roadmap of what they learned, how they learned it and how they might apply the skill in a given situation.

Although it was difficult to build a community during the pandemic, the ILTA community of practice was keen to have solid conversations and get to know each other. One of the first tasks was to reach a consensus on what information literacy and technological agility really mean in practice.

“Everyone has a different definition, but we did a number of exercises that professors from very disparate fields of study could think about,” says Delevan. “In doing so, we have identified common themes that we want to articulate for our students. We are building consensus around a set of common results that we are trying to achieve.

The ILTA community, which works closely with the Special Senate Committee on Shared Competencies and the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Evaluation, has already started developing tools to identify and measure learning outcomes for students. students. Delevan and Qin got together and created a “task checklist” for information literacy.

“This is really just a series of prompts that asked community of practice faculty to review one of their assignments and assess how it approaches information literacy and education. technological agility. What really surprised us was how useful it was for everyone from engineers to artists, ”says Delevan. “It’s not about telling teachers how or what to teach, but it gives them a tool to really reflect on their learning outcomes. And it’s not a huge investment of time or effort.

Qin adds, “The checklist has helped them recognize that they already teach information literacy and technological agility by giving everyone a common vocabulary for the skills students need. “

Other shared skills Communities of practice are underway or in the process of being formed to address the other five shared skills. Qin and Delevan encourage teachers to get involved.

“It’s a rare opportunity to be in a group with so many different people bringing different skills to the table,” says Delevan. “We’re not competitive at all, we’re building a broad consensus that, at the same time, recognizes how different areas approach a particular set of skills that we want our students to have upon graduation. “

“Our teachers really care about teaching and learning, but they also have a lot of their plates,” Qin says. “I think this community of practice has shown that there are small, tangible things they can do without adding more to their to-do lists. There really is a lot of flexibility in what we create and hopefully we can show that small changes make a big difference, if you have just the right tools.

The other members of the community of practice are:

  • Michelle Blum, Engineering and Computer Science
  • Ari Chakraborty, Arts and Sciences
  • Shiu-Kai Chin, Engineering and Computer Science
  • Larry Davis, Architecture
  • Sarah Fuchs, Arts and Sciences
  • LaVerne Gray, iSchool
  • Butch Hallmark, Office of First Year and Transfer Programs
  • Megan Oakleaf, iSchool
  • Mario Perez, School of Education
  • Whitney Phillips, Visual and Performing Arts
  • Penelope Pooler, Whitman School of Management
  • Jane Read, Arts and Sciences / Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
  • Jon Ryan, STI
  • Shane Sanders, Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics
  • Amanda Johnson Sanguiliano, Institutional Effectiveness and Evaluation
  • Kyla Wagner, Newhouse School
  • Patrick Williams, Libraries
  • Jamie Winders, Arts and Science / Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
  • Austin Zwick, Arts and Sciences / Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
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