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Entries in Digital Literacy (12)



I attended the above event, held on Monday, 16th June, at the Informatics Forum at Edinburgh University. It was organised by the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations. It was well attended and attracted delegates from local authorities, charities and voluntary bodies, universities, the NHS and, of course, libraries. It was organised on the unconference model and took the form of 40 group discussions carried out in a fairly informal fashion. There was also a debate about digital and human rights. This consisted of short presentations by three speakers including Chris Yiu of SCVO and Professor Michael Fourman. Some fairly familiar themes cropped up: the rights to education, leisure and a cultural life and the role of education in getting people into employment. The problems of the disabled who are more likely to be digitally excluded were also raised. Professor Fourman suggested that digital inclusion should be a civil right and that there should be a digital infrastructure which fosters equality of opportunity. He also emphasised the seriousness of the growing state surveillance culture, stating that everyone had a right to privacy.

After that I attended a discussion on how we can include people digitally when they are financially excluded. Much of the discussion focused on the Government’s digitisation of benefits payments and its consequences and the Universal Jobmatch Scheme. I was struck by the fact that there were two groups of people present who were doing similar work but had never heard of each other which raises interesting questions about local planning partnerships.

In the afternoon I attended a discussion about the role of public libraries in today’s digital society. There was little discussion about information literacy or reading. Employability was the main topic with concern expressed about the consequences of the Universal Credit Scheme, the problems it was causing claimants including sanctions and what librarians could do to help. Firewalls and the problems they cause also provoked a lot of discussion.

It was good to see librarians engaging with the digital participation agenda although it is a little concerning that so much attention seems to be focusing around the Universal Credit Scheme and less on information issues. Apologies for the delay in posting but I have been busy with time limited writing, not to mention the good weather.

John Crawford


CILIPS Autumn Gathering 2013: privacy is dead; CPD; elevator pitch 

Back on October I did a blog posting about the morning session at CILIPS Autumn Gathering 2013. I promised I would do a posting about the afternoon sessions I attended - so here it is. In the afternoon I choose sessions that concentrated on CPD activities but could be used for IL purposes and attended the final session keynote by Simon Finch (Northen Grid) and I'll start there.

Somon's presentation tilted 'Welcome to the end of the World - E-Safety, Online Behaviour and the Death of Privavcy' was full of lots of warnings that are familiar to those of us interested or involved in e-saftey and online behaviour. He did however also offer some useful suggestions such as:

'Privacy is dead'- we must be seen to manage the risk to the best of our ability so:

  • instead of saying 'don't share personal information' instead we need to say 'how to share personal information' 
  • post like your enemy is watching
  • 'Twitter is the biggest staffroom in the world'.

CPD 23 - Anabel Marsh talked about her participation in CPD23. I had heard of CPD23 and also meant to have a look at it but never got round to it, so this my opportunity. Something that struct me were that the 23 things model has been adapted for for other topics and that it could probably be used for information literacy. Of particular interest to me in CPD23 was 'reflective practice' No 5 and 'advocacy'. The later as Anabel says 'should be part of our toolkit' - I couldn't agree more. The later leads me onto the other session I attended 'Elevator pitch or elevate your pitch' a useful skill to have as part of your advoacy toolkit.

Elevator pitch or elevate your pitch - another thing on my to do list regarding skills was to be able to as Suzanne Wheatley put it to have 'a carefully constructed message that grabs the attention' of someone when I only have a few seconds to do so. Suzanne suggests that in order to achieve this 'with clarity and grace' we need to be

  • concise
  • relevant
  • know what your'e selling.

You also need to create a connection with the person - you can't build a relationship with someone in that short space of time but you can start by making a connection with them so they may be persuaded to meet you at a later date to learn more or hear from you with more information.

She suggested that in crafting your pitch / message you break the pitch down into sections and address each one in turn then put them back together:

  • aim for 30 seconds of talking - 150 / 230 words
  • identify your goal (objective) - what are you pitching (funding, project, services) and what are you trying to achieve (what do you want out of the pitch).
  • introduce yourself (who you are, what you do) - show value, communicate what makes you unique. Don't overload people with information - think quality not quantity - short snapy points.
  • engage with the person - ask an insightful question (how ... / what ... / where ... / do you ... / I saw ... / I read your .... / and allow for the other person to respond. Ask if they have time for a coffee. Exchange email addresses.
  • statge left - e.g. This is my floor. Nice to meet you (handshake). Look forward to hearing from you.


  • Delivery is as crucial as content - if you believe in yourself then it shows.
  • Body language is also important: stand as straight as possible; good posture projects confidence; good hand shake (practice - a limp hand shake is not good). 
  • Make eye contact and smile - if you look interested, they will engage with you
  • Consider the volume of your voice (take your lead from the person you are talking to) and the speed (we tend to speak too quickly when we are nervous or have limited time).

As Suzanne says 'being able to pitch yourself with confidence and clarity in thirty seconds is a handy skills in all areas of life. Believe in what your pitching (enthusiasim is infectious), be concise and be compelling.' (View from the Hill: news from the world of information recruitment Issue 11 Summer 2013). See Suzanne's thoughts on the Gathering

For me this skills would be useful as apart of an information literacy advocacy tool.

The afternoon sessions were a great finish to a great day where I had learnt a few things and met some new people plus cauht up on a few that I hadn't seen for a while. great way to catch up with what's happening. 

I also managed to pick up a National Library of Scotland leaflet for tutors and adult learners about what NLS can offer them e.g. tailored tours and visits and online learning reasources at


Digital Native ~ Terminology Debate

After an interested meeting of the CoP in Edinburgh on Bonfire Night, I thought I'd share a link or two. Well, it was the day of Bonfire Night, we didn't get together to forgo the fireworks!

We discussed how the term digital native is misleading. There is an assumption digital native denotes an innate understanding of technology and therefore  means all those born within a certain timeframe (and from now on) are highly adept at using technology for all means.

For those that work in libraries and education, we regularly see that this is not the case. JISC and the British Library undertook research into young people's technological abilities and discovered there is no correlation between ability to work technology with information literacy, academic literacy or in some cases digital literacies. They did this with CIBER in a project called Google Generation which really prompted a lot of my personal interest in digital natives.

Prensky, who introduced us to the term digital native cannot be credited, nor berated, for giving us a definition. The current understanding seems to have grown from a collective consciousness of what being digitally native might mean. Notably, it had to be non-digital natives, or digital immigrants, who decided what it was to be digitally native which is perhaps where the misunderstanding came from.

Dave White a researcher at Oxford University, challenged the Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants model in Digital Visitors and Residents, abstract below:

This article proposes a continuum of ‘Visitors’ and ‘Residents’ as a replacement for Prensky’s much‐criticised Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants. Challenging the basic premises upon which Prensky constructed his typology, Visitors and Residents fulfil a similar purpose in mapping individuals’ engagement with the Web. We argue that the metaphors of ‘place’ and ‘tool’ most appropriately represent the use of technology in contemporary society, especially given the advent of social media. The Visitors and Residents continuum accounts for people behaving in different ways when using technology, depending on their motivation and context, without categorising them according to age or background. A wider and more accurate representation of online behaviour is therefore established.

Further information about Dave and his work is available here.  

I don't know how others feel about this debate, though I do wonder what the library of the future will look like, when the only staff it might have were born into a world saturated with technology. Interested to hear the thoughts of others.


Digital Literacies & Skills Project Manager - Vacancy 

Young Scot has a vacancy that centres on digital and information literacies. The post is located at their office in Haymarket, Edinburgh. 

Digital Literacies & Skills Project Manager
(£25K, Initially Fixed Term to 31st July 2014)

The Digital Skills & Literacies Project Manager will be directly responsible for project managing and developing the main components of the Young Scot Digital Academy:

- Digital Creative Modern Apprenticeship programme
- Digital Skills in Schools Programme
- Digital information literacy/digital footprint.

The post will line manage two Modern Apprenticeship Co-ordinators, and work with the Information Services and Outreach Teams to develop online and offline resources to support young people’s digital information literacy skills and digital footprint.


Response to the RSE Enquiry into Digital Participation

I have read the responses already posted below and realise my response is very similar but here is my reponse anyway:

1. What do you think are the current benefits of digital participation and using the internet? 

There are many benefits of digital participation and to using the internet and these are well documented. As more and more services go online it is clear that if you are not participating digitally you will be isolated and your opportunities will be limited. Benefits include:

  • Monetary benefits – you can shop around to get the best price online which is often cheaper than the high street due to lower overheads for online companies.
  • Social benefits – through social media people can keep in touch with family and friends. This can be a lifeline and improve of quality of life for people especially those who are housebound.
  • Educational benefits – a wide range of access to educational materials and information.

Having said this to be able to effectively participate people need to have knowledge of the pitfalls of which there are many and that is where the role of the library can be key to individuals. As we as a profession we have skills and knowledge to share with others to ensure they are able to:

  • Identify and verify if what they are reading is trustworthy
  • Search in an efficient way
  • To use the internet safely when shopping etc.
  • Use social media in a way that will not endanger their prospects of employment etc i.e. understand the consequences of what they publish openly online. 

2.What are the potential benefits?

If used well it can lead to better decision making especially in a work setting. If society is to benefit fully from digital participation though individuals must not only be able to access information they must also be able to find and select the right information. Information literacy is essential for this otherwise people could easily believe ungrounded information and make poorly informed decisions based upon it. The more informed people’s decisions are the more efficient and effective our workplaces will be and this will inevitably have a positive effect on the economy as a whole. 

3 How can these benefits be maximized?

Benefits can be maximized through systematic teaching of information literacy skills throughout life. We do everyone in society a huge disservice if we do not equip individuals with the skills to know how to find, evaluate, use and communicate information in an ethical manner. We can start imparting these skills to nursery skill children and carry this training on right through to pensioners. Through schooling and education, the workplace and life long learning. There are extensive examples of the good work of libraries in this field along with the benefits these can be viewed in the Scottish Information Literacy Framework and also on the Scottish Information Literacy Community of Practice blog both available at

4. How can the benefits be promoted?          

Benefits are already being promoted in libraries across Scotland in various sectors. There is super work going on in Aberdeen Public Libraries for example with their Go On Classes. A more co-ordinated approach is required though to raise the profile on a national level. I believe that unless teachers become fully information literate our young people are not going to be information literate and therefore our future workforce is at a disadvantage. Information literacy needs to be at the centre of all education and our professionals need to be equipped to impart those skills to others. Those working in government research are very much in need of information literacy skills to do their job. If the right information is not available for policy making huge errors will be made. It is important that the skills are promoted and taught in a way that people can see the benefits to all aspects of their lives so that they will apply it to everything they do including what they do online. 

5. How could Scotland benefit from wider digital participation and use of the internet?                     

Ultimately it would improve employment rates I believe and also increase equality and help to close the gap between the richer and poorer. However information literacy is key to wider digital participation, as I believe you cannot benefit from one without the other. It is all key to life long learning and can enhance everyone’s life and every aspect of that life not just academic or work life. 

6. What risks do you associate to digital participation?

If digital participation is just about the mechanics of using a computer, mobile phone etc and not about the wider issues of safety and being responsible online, we are doing people an injustice and exposing them to dangers such as identity theft etc. You only need to look at the recent case of Paris Brown who was forced to step down from her position as Britain’s first youth police and crime commissioner because of comments she made on twitter to understand the dangers of being unaware of the consequences of what you publish on the internet. Also they need to be aware of how to avoid falling foul of viewing illegal material too as this can truly ruin lives. People need to be information savvy and literate in order to safely and successfully digitally participate. In this digital age it is as important as being able to read and write.

7. How can such risks be addressed? 

 Risks can be addressed by comprehensive education in internet safety awareness at school. Librarians are well placed along with teachers to deliver this training. This training should start in Primary 1. It is often too late by the time children reach secondary school considering there are children who have mobile phones with unrestricted internet access while they are still in primary school. The news is littered with stories about young people falling into various digital traps. Aside from this there should be a national approach linked to skills and employability to ensure we do not miss those who have already been through the education system. I believe there should be different levels as well as the needs of one individual will be very different to those of another. There are some very good examples of this in Scotland that could be used to build a national training.

8. What prevents you from using digital technologies and the internet?  

A lack of knowledge of some packages prevents me from using them especially advanced IT technologies. I would like to be able to create QR codes for work purposes for example but do not have the skills currently.

9. What could be done to increase your use of digital technologies and the internet?

More training opportunities

10. What incentives could be used to increase digital participation?

I’m not sure but as one of the barriers can be poverty it is important to ensure that there are enough free internet access points for all, with the technology there to access it. There should also be provision for maintaining these access points and ensuring that facilities are up to date. People also need to know that help is there to keep them safe while using technology along with aid to give them the skills to enhance their lives through digital participation. Support mechanisms need to be in place to support individuals as it takes a lot of confidence to take that first step towards digital participation. There are those who are digitally disadvantaged who have a fear of learning due to negative experiences in their past. The benefits need to be explicitly advertised to everyone so that they begin to see the many advantages for them as an individual.