With my co-authors Peter Cruickshank and Bruce Ryan, I am delighted that our paper Exploring information literacy through the lens of Activity Theory has been accepted for the 5th European Conference on Information Literacy in St-Malo, France. The conference runs for four days between 18th and 21st September 2017.
The theme of this full paper is Activity Theory as a framework for exploring Information Literacy as a technologically mediated social practice. Here we discuss the value of Activity Theory with reference to the Information Literacy for Democratic Engagement project (IL-DEM for short).
IL-DEM was funded by the CILIP Information Literacy Group in 2016 to investigate the ways in which community-level elected representatives (community councillors, working as unpaid volunteer members of community councils) in Scotland undertake two related information activities: (i) seeking and sharing the opinions of the citizens that they represent with higher tiers of government, and (ii) finding and sharing information from higher tiers of government with the citizens that they represent.
The main finding of our analysis is that Activity Theory is an appropriate tool for information literacy research of this nature. Its main strengths are found in the processes of preparing data collection tools and the extraction of ‘meaning’ from interview data. In addition, Activity Theory is especially powerful at identifying contradictions between the activities under scrutiny in research projects. In this case, since information literacy was viewed through the lens of Activity Theory, barriers to information sharing, and the stimulation of change in information practice, emerged as strong themes in the research project findings.
Since ECIL2017 takes place at the very start of the academic year at Edinburgh Napier University, and both Peter Cruickshank and I have teaching commitments this coming term, Bruce Ryan will be delivering the paper at the conference on behalf of all three of us. He is looking forward to presenting our work and discussing it with other ECIL2017 delegates in France in September. The full paper will be published by Springer in the conference proceedings as part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science series.