Trend reflection – information literacy

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    • #1629
      Sarah Ross

      When I was a junior lawyer, one of the jobs you had to do was research and find law cases.  Early on in my training, we were sent on a one-day training course in Lexus (a legal database), given a handbook and I made copious notes.  I had no cause to use Lexus for several months and then I was asked to do some research.  I grabbed my handbook and notes and set off to the library (unstaffed) to use Lexus.  I totally failed to find one relevant case.  The handbook and my notes made no sense.  I tried again and again with the same result.  I later learned that someone else managed to find about 11 relevant cases.

      Locked computer from google images

      This rather shameful anecdote got me thinking about the trends in information literacy instruction as outlined by Evans et al, Chapter 4.  Cheryl Youse points out that just because information is available, it does not mean it is easier to obtain.  There is a need to learn effective search strategies.  Evans et al divide the ways of learning into informal and formal instruction.  Formal instruction is what I experienced.  In its way it was both an orientation and a virtual tour, followed by a classroom presentation with a little hands-on instruction.  It had all the features of what Evans et al describe as a One-Shot Lecture.  My course also demonstrated one of the drawbacks noted by Evans et al – using the time to cram in as much information as is possible.

      Unlock key from google images

      Two other approaches are noted by Evans et al.  Course-integrated instruction is the idea of ongoing teaching of information literacy skills.  Van Epps and Nelson found that students who were given instruction before each individual assignment rather than a one-shot at the start fared better.   Evans et al point out that this method of instruction may be beneficial but in practice is burdensome in terms of staff resources.  In my case, it may have been better if we had undertaken the Lexus instruction when we needed it.

      The third approach as outlined by Evans et al is the flipped classroom.  Students study before coming to the class and use the classroom time to practice and learn through activity.  Datig and Ruswick note that this approach is not only producing results but is also fun.  As they say, however, the challenge is ensuring that the pre-study is actually done.  This approach would not have worked in the law firm setting as it would take up a lot of time (when we should be using that time to earn lots of money for the firm!).

      Evans et al mention web guides and course management systems as options for online support.  Also considered is Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS).  MOOCS are free virtual classes and are a relatively new idea.  Kerry Wu has written about MOOCs in an academic setting and it would be interesting to see whether it could be transferred to a law firm setting.  As Evans et al point out, “this is definitely a trend worth following”.

      Information ready computer from google images

      • This topic was modified 8 years, 5 months ago by Sarah Ross. Reason: Update tags
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    • #1644

      Hi Sarah, your reflection brought back striking memories of an almost identical experience with Lexus. My law firm had it installed in the library on a stand alone computer that no one was allowed to use, except in extreme circumstances, as it was so expensive. It was my first experience in searching for information in a digital environment – how strange exciting those early times were as young lawyers. Like you, I found it difficult to use after a one-shot lecture but it was the beginning of a journey that sees me here studying for a Masters that would be impossible without my trusty laptop. The practice of law now depends heavily on instant access to legal information, legal intranets, mobile devices and a fully functioning CMS. How far we’ve come. A big vote of gratitude goes to all those who took the time and had the patience to teach me the digital literacy skills I’ve picked up along the way. Digital literacy skills are now everyday life skills, where would we be without them? On the other side of the digital divide.

    • #1661
      Sarah Ross

      I am so thrilled to find someone else who experienced the birth of a digital information age!  And who acknowledges the weird world it was! I feel that providing critical thinking/information literacy is taught alongside digital literacy young lawyers would have a better time than I had.

    • #2053
      Katherine Lee

      Great trends reflection Sarah! You raised some really interesting points about the way digital literacy tends to be taught which I found really interesting. I think the point you raised that people learn by doing is really important. I think libraries sometimes forget this when designing digital literacy programs or training in using databases and other resources. The tendency is to bombard people with information without necessarily getting them to do activities that apply the knowledge. As you mention the best way to learn is by doing, perhaps we need to rethink the way we approach digital literacy to take this into account 🙂

      • #2057
        Sarah Ross

        Thanks Katherine for your response.  I think that teaching has become a lot more activity focussed these days as a reinforcement for learning (from what I gather anyway from teacher friends).  It is a vast improvement on the old chalk and talk method.

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