Digital technologies continue to transform the academy (Adams Becker et al, 2016). The future of learning and research will be defined by players who successfully navigate the information ecosystem to build meaningful connections within and beyond the academic community. Information and digital literacy therefore represents a critical skillset in a world where ideas, innovation and integrity can flourish. This paper argues that an institution-wide approach to building information, digital and data literacy skills is required to ensure high-quality learning experiences and internationally significant research outcomes. The strategic leadership demonstrated by the University of Queensland Library is examined in this case study.
Digital technologies create many new opportunities for the collaborative co-construction of knowledge, where the active processes of managing, synthesising and repurposing data and information are highly valued. This dynamic academic landscape requires a clear understanding of how the ways that students and researchers think, interpret and communicate ideas are influenced by their interactions with digital information resources. In response to concerns about a patchwork pattern of information and digital literacy skills, “a university-wide approach… which attempts to involve all faculty and students” (Alexander et al, 2016, p.11) is recommended.
In mid 2016, University of Queensland Library (UQL) launched a future-focused information and digital literacy strategy to help shape the university’s academic policies and practices. The UQL Strategic Framework for Information and Digital Literacy 2016-2020 offers a coherent and comprehensive approach to skills development, underpinned by the appropriate infrastructure required to deliver consistently high quality, equitable programs and resources which encourage the integration of UQ’s teaching, research and engagement endeavours.
Key strategies encourage the embedding of research excellence in undergraduate programs (UQ, 2016), data-driven teaching aligned closely with student employability, and academics supported in the productive use of digital tools. UQL also advises researchers about research data management at all points of the research lifecycle to facilitate data sharing. The innovative Centre for Digital Scholarship (CDS) offers a collaborative physical space in the Library to encourage the creation and curation of digital content. In this multi-functional environment, digital technologies facilitate the analysis and visualisation of text and data, with specialised training and assistance available to support cross-disciplinary connections between teaching and research.
This paper will review the key elements of the strategic framework and discuss the ways in which library staff are partnering with the members of the UQ community to build the digital skills they need to connect and collaborate.