CILN on the road

It’s no exaggeration to say that in the seven (only seven!) months since the official creation of the Cambridge Information Literacy Network, we as a community have achieved an extraordinary amount. In celebration of this, and to inform the rest of our library colleagues across the community about progress and plans for the future, we were treated to two CILN roadshows, organised by the members of CILN responsible for staff development and training.

The roadshows started with Libby Tilley and Catherine Reid, the Chair and Deputy Chair of CILN, and this timeline of events, from March 2017 to today:

A timeline of CILN so far; its development from the Task and Finish Group, through the CILN launch, to the future.

CILN developed out of a Task & Finish Group to explore library teaching and training, and directly from their recommendation that the library community would benefit from an information literacy framework. The timeline shows the major events that have happened since then: the development of this framework, a successful bid for funding from the Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning, the inaugural CILN Forum, in 2018 (details here), the launch of CamGuides (details here).

But these are only the headlines. So – fasten your seatbelts – this is what we’ve done!

The Master’s OER strand

Otherwise known as CamGuides! This is a pre-arrival, online resource for Master’s students with a taught element, regardless of discipline, background or mode of study, and ready for launch by the start of term in 2018. Helen Murphy reported on the development of the course, through the research, planning and development stages. Much more information about CamGuides is available elsewhere on this blog.

A slide detailing the purpose, output, team and honorary team of the CamGuides strand of CILN. Purpose: to design an online, pre-arrival resource for Master's students.

The Undergraduate OER strand

The goal of the Undergraduate OER strand, as Jenny Blackhurst and Catherine Reid outlined, is to produce a pre-arrival resource on academic skills and information literacy in time for the 2019 intake. While the content will be designed to be relevant principally for offer holders to Cambridge, it will be accessible to (and hopefully useful for) students interested in applying, or making decisions about where to apply.

Since the launch of the project in January, the team have been researching and reviewing the literature around undergraduate transition to university, exploring similar resources at other universities, gathering info, attending events (including LILAC and the CILN Forum). The next steps involve making use of the research done by other CILN strands, some research with our 2018 incoming freshers, discussion with A-level teachers and the Cambridge admissions office, and looking at integrating the undergraduate resource with the Master’s one.

A slide detailing the purpose, output and team of the undergraduate group. Purpose: to design a pre-arrival information literacy resource for undergrad students of any discipline.

Mapping student learning deadlines

Angela Cutts reported on the incredibly useful information gathering work being conducted by the Mapping Student Learning Deadlines slide. Their role is to gather information on all significant curriculum events for a student in any subject – such as hand-in dates, exams, etc. This is being collated and presented in two curriculum maps in Google Doc – one for undergraduates and one for Master’s students – and so far 510 events have been logged. This work will be so useful as library staff plan and schedule the teaching they offer, and the strand plan to make their work so far available to the library community in Cambridge in the next few weeks.

A slide describing the progress of the Mapping Student Learning Deadlines group - tracking preparation deadlines, submission deadlines, exams, placements.

CILN Online

The role of the CILN online group, led by Clare Trowell, was to explore and make recommendations for a potential suite of generic online resources that the library community might use, or that might form a just-in-time offering of support and teaching. Through exploring the offerings of other institutions, researching pedagogical approaches to digital education, thinking about technology and delivery, and learning from the CamGuides experience, the CILN Online group presented a report with recommendations for the development of online resources, tutorials and other learning objects.

A slide outlining the purpose, output and team of CILN-Online. Purpose: to scope what libraries could provide as a suite of information literacy tutorials

Mapping Competencies

The work of the Mapping Competencies group, led by Suzanne Paul and Lynne Meehan, was to identify existing training in Cambridge, learn about its intended audience, schedule, eligibility, and then map this training to the four competencies in the information literacy framework. The group have been talking to library staff from over 60 libraries in Cambridge (with a final push on the horizon) and are learning huge amounts about the ways in which College, and Faculty and Departmental Libraries, approach teaching and training. Most of the work we do, they say, is focused around Resource Discovery but there is definitely interest from library staff in developing teaching around the other competencies too. They also promised a report to the library community in the next few weeks.

A slide describing the goals and team of the Mapping Competencies group, identifying existing training and mapping it to the four competencies.

Inductions and Orientations group

The inductions and orientations group set out to survey all induction and orientation activity that happens in Cambridge at the beginning of the academic year. Having gathered that information (report to follow), they set about developing materials that Cambridge library staff might use in their inductions and orientations, and especially those staff whose induction is necessarily limited because of the students’ schedule. These materials – a handicam video, flyer, posters, Powerpoint slide – will all be circulated in the next few weeks.

A slide with details of the work of the inductions and orientations group - the purpose is to develop Cambridge libraries induction and orientation procedures


The Comms group, led by Andy Corrigan, was initially developed in response to a need to coordinate the launch of CamGuides but have achieved a huge amount in a very short space of time. Since their inception, they have come up with a Comms strategy to ensure that all of the CILN strands are communicating a consistent message, and to ensure the successful delivery and reception of CILN outputs, to manage risks, and much more. They’ve produced lots of CamGuides materials (posters, flyers, a banner, email signatures, and more), and are generating a key contacts list from across the university.

Slide detailing the outputs and team of the Comms group - a strategy, promotional material, key contacts

Staff development group

Last but not least, there’s the CILN Staff Development group, chaired by Meg Westbury. Their aim is to ensure that library staff across Cambridge have the skills, support and confidence to deliver the teaching and training that they want to!

The principal output of this group is intended to be a Teacher Librarian course, for any member of the library community, for beginners, for those with experience, for anyone in the community with an interest in teaching. It’s a 9-month, blended learning course. A third will be delivered online, and will focus on learning theories, developing a learning philosophy, and information literacy frameworks; the other two-thirds will be practical, around the design and delivery of teaching. The goal is to have this course, once developed, accredited by the HEA.


Thank you!

All of those providing updates agreed on one thing: their work, and any achievements, would not have been possible without their project teams, all of whom were thanked and praised repeatedly throughout. What we’ve managed to do in seven months definitely justifies the buzz around CILN and the enthusiasm within our community for the work that CILN might do. Needless to say, it’s an exciting time to work for the University of Cambridge libraries community.


CamGuides is live!

On 20th August CamGuides – a pre-arrival online course for taught Master’s students, regardless of discipline, background or mode of study – went live. The launch was ably managed by the excellent CILN Comms team, and as our new Master’s students begin to arrive in Cambridge we are already avidly gathering feedback and ideas for ways to improve the course.

Click the image below or click here to take a look at the course!

A screenshot of the CamGuides homepage

Any and all feedback is welcome – use the comments or contact the Project Team.

Final CamGuides countdown

In the eye of the hurricane, there is quiet.

For the past fortnight CamGuides has officially been ‘in review’, being put through its paces, tested, critiqued, and assessed by a variety of people. This essential work is being carried out by Rose Giles (University Library) and Amy Theobald (Betty and Gordon Moore Library), and I can barely express my gratitude to them for taking this work on with such commitment and rigour.

Their short- and longer-term recommendations are due any day now, which means I’m currently in a semi-blissful state of not really knowing what Rose and Amy will recommend, or how hectic the pre-launch period is going to be! But this quiet point seems like the perfect time to reflect on CamGuides itself – the product, not the process. There will be time, later, to consider what we as individuals and as a community can learn from its development; there will be time, later, to ensure that we learn from mistakes and missteps, and to share this with the wider CILN teams and the Cambridge library community as a whole.

So, although this might seem premature, with the recommendations yet to be published, here are five things that I would like you to know about CamGuides:

1. It is a set of learning objects.

And it has its own learning objectives. Though the purpose of CamGuides is to support students in their chosen discipline, it is also something to be learned from.

2. It is officially an open educational resource.

Nearly all of the content on CamGuides is licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0, which means it can be reused with attribution and under the same terms. This means that it definitely qualifies as an OER, defined by UNESCO as “teaching, learning or research materials that are in the public domain or released with an intellectual property license that allows for free use, adaptation and distribution”. It isn’t just that members of the Cambridge library and academic communities can reuse, remix, and redistribute the content on CamGuides. Anyone can.

CamGuides being an OER isn’t just a matter of it being accessible to all students, or outside of a Cambridge authentication wall, though this is also crucial! Rather, this might represent an early step for us, as a community, joining in with and being a critical voice within the openness movement in HE. This movement, lauded as being inherently democratising, anti-hierarchical and counter-cultural (Gourlay, 2015), is also deserving of critique and dissent. CamGuides might catalyse our engagement with these sorts of debates.

3. It will never be finished.

This doesn’t mean it won’t be ready in time for launch before new students start arriving at the beginning of September – it definitely will. (This is more closely a result of stubbornness than good planning). But there will always be room for improvement, for development, and for change. CamGuides is a long-term commitment.

4. It will not solve all of the problems that students face when they begin their Master’s degrees.

Students will still need substantial, knowledgeable and committed face-to-face support from library staff across the whole library community. Fortunately, there’s a lot of that about.

5. It is a product of many hands and voices.

I can’t stress this enough: CamGuides exists because of the commitment and generosity of so many people, who deserve to share both the blame and the thanks. It is a result of current Master’s students who have shared their experiences, lending their voices and giving advice to future Master’s students; of the gifted and committed team at the Language Centre, whose creativity is boundless; of the administrators of the Teaching and Learning Innovation Fund, without whom we may never have begun; of library staff across the colleges, faculties, departments and UL – and particularly the Digital Services team and my fabulous colleagues at the English Faculty Library; of experienced and knowledgeable administrative staff who shared links and names; of academic staff who shared ideas and feedback; of Amy and Rose, whose work will improve CamGuides considerably; and of the CamGuides project team – Ange Fitzpatrick, Lizz Edwards-Waller, Chris Grogan, David Marshall and Lihua Zhu – without whom, among other things, it would definitely not have such a catchy name. Thanks to all of you – now let’s get back to work.



Gourlay, L. (2015). Open education as a ‘heterotopia of desire.’ Learning, Media and Technology, 40(3), 310–327.
Miranda, Lin-Manuel and the Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton: An American Musical. (2015). In The Eye Of The Hurricane. Warner.
UNESCO. (2017). Open educational resources. Retrieved August 5, 2018, from

CILN FORUM presentations

A selection of the CILN FORUM presentations:

Thank you to all our speakers!

CILN Forum

On Tuesday 19th June 2018 the first Cambridge Information Literacy Forum was held on the Sidgwick Site at the University of Cambridge.

The Forum saw over 100 members of the network and their colleagues gather to discuss and develop ideas for mapping the newly devised Cambridge Information Literacy Framework.

Speakers were invited from other HE institutions to provide an opportunity to hear the experiences of others about implementation, sustainability and good practice.

The day was tweeted extensively, thanks to a team of live-tweeters, see below for tweet summaries of each session. You can also have a look at the hashtag #CILNForum for an overview of the whole day.

The day was opened by an introduction and welcome from Libby Tilley (University of Cambridge & CILN Project Team Member) and Dr Jess Gardner (Cambridge University Librarian).

The welcome was followed by a series of talks from Lorna Dodd (Maynooth University, Ireland), Helen Murphy (University of Cambridge), and Shazia Arif & Sam Piker (Brunel).

Lorna Dodd shared the process of adopting, developing and implementing an information literacy framework at Maynooth University, Ireland.

Lorna’s talk was followed by Helen Murphy, who is heading up the CILN CamGuides pre-arrival course for taught Master’s students. Helen shared developments in the process of creating the course and the questions raised by the need for and choice of technology.

The final speakers in the morning session, Shazia Arif & Sam Piker, shared Brunel University’s experience of developing digital capabilities through their Graduate LibSmart Programme.

The morning talks were followed by a number of parallel sessions. For more tweets from each session follow the link to the hastags:

Parallel Session #CFP1A: David Marshall (Futurelib, University of Cambridge) – Student journeys research

Parallel Session #CFP1B: Claire Packham & James Atkinson (City, University of London) – Implementation & future-proofing

Parallel Session #CFP1C: Helen Clough (Open University) – Implementing an Information Literacy Framework

Parallel Session #CFP1D: Katy Woolfenden & Jennie Blake (University of Manchester) – My Learning Essentials

Parallel Session #CFP1E: Angela Young (UCL) – Using Information Literacy Frameworks in teaching and skills training

Over lunch our project groups shared the progress of the various CILN strands.

The second set of parallel sessions continued in the afternoon:

Parallel Session #CFP2A: Emma Thompson (University of Liverpool) – Sustainability of Information Literacy programmes

Parallel Session #CFP2B: Sarah Elsegood (Anglia Ruskin University) – Information Literacy research project & academic liaison

Parallel Session #CFP2C: Susan Halfpenny (University of York) – Digital Literacy Framework

Parallel Session #CFP2D: Alison Hicks (UCL) – Pedagogy & Information Literacy

Parallel Session #CFP2E: Helen Murphy (University of Cambridge) – Implementing an Information Literacy Framework in Arts & Humanities libraries

The third parallel sessions were divided into two sessions led by Alison Little and Jane Secker.

Parallel Session 3A
Alison Little (University of Sheffield) – Advocacy with stakeholders when implementing an Information Literacy framework

Parallel Session 3B
Jane Secker (City, University of London) – CILIP’s new Information Literacy definition

The day finished with two concurrent panel sessions discussing the theme of ‘Information Literacy and the transition to university”:

Thanks to all our speakers and attendees. Keep an eye on the blog for more reflections from the day.

Guest post: Themes from the CILN Forum

This is a guest post written by Veronica Phillips, Reader Support Assistant at the Cambridge Medical Library. Read the original post on her blog here.

Cambridge libraries have had information literacy on the agenda for a while now, and I’ve been part of the groups working on this area for some time. Last year, I was part of a small teaching and learning task and finish group, working on making preliminary recommendations to the University regarding information literacy policy and guidance. This preliminary work fed into a much larger network of Cambridge library staff — of which I am also a part — called CILN (Cambridge Information Literacy Network). CILN has been working hard on all things information literacy: mapping key dates for students across subjects and years, mapping competencies and training provision, and much more. CILN has also been hard at work planning an information literacy forum, with speakers invited from other universities, and I was fortunate enough to be able to attend.

As always with my conference/workshop write-ups, I am not going to attempt to provide a word-for-word paraphrase of every single thing that was said at the CILN Forum. Rather, I will pull out a few key themes which I felt were the main takeaways from the event. (However, if you want a live summary of events as they unfolded, the conference hashtag on Twitter might be worth checking out.)

The main theme of the forum for me was terminology. Almost every speaker mentioned a degree of discomfort with the term ‘information literacy’, stressed the need for a clear definition, and noted that it was important to translate terms into language that reflected the activities and priorities of the intended audience. For example, Susan Halfpenny, of the University of York, explained that her library’s information literacy framework deliberately mapped to learning outcomes and assessment criteria of university courses, so that the framework (and the training and other support her library provided) was contextualised within courses and academics, students and university administrators could see how it connected with their own goals. Likewise, Alison Little of the University of Sheffield noted that her framework was embedded within a wider university teaching and learning strategy.

I was particularly impressed with the choices in terminology used by library staff at Brunel University London, as outlined by Sam Piker and Shazia Arif, which to my mind reflected the actual learning activities undertaken by students. (You can see the names of some of the library courses offered at Brunel here.)

What we should be aiming for in creating information literacy frameworks (and planning training and other services to support it) is a clear use of terminology that is understandable to its audience (whether that be university administration, academics, or students). We want colleagues and library users to understand what we do, and make use of services that they themselves need, and we need to use language that will help in these aims.

Image_blogpost_information literacy forum

The other main theme of the forum was something I come back to again and again: institutional support. Where did information literacy support fit within overall teaching and learning undertaken by students at any given university? Was it integrated into academic coursework, or was it treated as an optional extra and positioned as a wholly library-led endeavour? Lorna Dodd of Maynooth University stressed that the information literacy framework at Maynooth was contextualised within the curriculum aims and graduate attributes of the university, tacitly acknowledging that the library does not take sole responsibility for information literacy. Rather, it is embedded within curricula, and indeed much information literacy teaching, while being held in library teaching spaces, is not delivered by library staff. The result was a redesigned array of services that were much more integrated into students’ coursework, and a better reflection of what they and their lecturers actually needed.

How and where information literacy support is positioned means virtual positioning as well. It’s essential the information about support and services is located in online spaces where students can find it easily. We cannot rely on them finding LibGuides buried in the depths of a library website — or even finding the library website itself. Where do students go to find information or support to help with their studies? They are more likely to look in places like their VLE, or perhaps a tab marked ‘current students’ on the homepage of their university’s website. Information literacy support (whatever terminology is used to describe it) needs to be prominently linked in these kinds of locations, and indeed many speakers at the forum noted that they had battled to get such content embedded in exactly these places. When library support for information literacy is not only face-to-face teaching, the possibilities for positioning it within curricula and in online spaces where students are likely to access it are even greater; staff at Sheffield designed their information literacy teaching explicitly with that in mind.

The CILN team is clearly intending to proceed having taken on board the experiences of peers at other institutions, and I very much hope that the strong recommendations regarding terminology and positioning of information literacy content and support are followed at Cambridge. For my part, what I learnt at the CILN Forum will inform several changes regarding my teaching that I’ve been contemplating for a while: overhauling the naming of courses I offer (based on user feedback if possible), and working more actively to forge connections with course coordinators and other academic staff in order to ensure my training is meeting the needs of students, and is well integrated into the rest of the teaching they receive throughout their courses.

CamGuides at the CCTL conference

This is the edited version of a short presentation given by Helen Murphy on CamGuides [the new name for the Master’s OER project] at the Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning’s Teaching Forum, held on 17 April 2018, at Murray Edwards College. The accompanying slidedeck can be seen online here.


CamGuides final


CamGuides is a product of the Cambridge Information Literacy Network, which launched about two months ago. This is an ambitious, collaborative and wide-ranging network of library staff from across the university, in a variety of roles, who are actively engaged in research and projects related to information literacy, and to current and future provision of information literacy teaching in the Cambridge context. There are several concurrent projects, of which CamGuides is just one, accelerated by funding from the University’s Teaching and Learning Innovation Fund, for which we are very grateful.

CamGuides stands for Cambridge Graduate Information and Digital Essentials – and yes, we’ve played fast and loose with that particular acronym! It is a pre-arrival course for taught Master’s students, regardless of their discipline, background or mode of study. Its aim is to support these students in their transition to Cambridge, to graduate study, and to graduate study in their discipline at Cambridge. It focuses on information literacy, digital literacy, and transferable academic skills. It will be delivered entirely online, and entirely openly, with content licensed as an open educational resource, and hosted so that no Cambridge credentials or authentication is required to access it. And it’ll be launched in time for Michaelmas 2018.

The plan for this short presentation is to introduce CamGuides through two of its main features: the audience, and its pre-arrival nature. But there’s a need for a shout-out to technology, too, considerations of which have formed an enormous part of the research and planning for CamGuides so far, and which is excluded from this presentation only because many of the major technology decisions have already been made.*

The first thing, then, is the potential audience for the course. All taught Master’s students, regardless of discipline, background or more of study and so, evidently, a hugely diverse range of people.

Now, here we have a problem. When it comes to the teaching of subject-related practices like information literacy or academic skills, the overwhelming consensus in literature is that subject-specific is always better than generic courses, and that generic courses are seen to be less ‘relevant’ to student (cf. Wingate, 2007; Northedge, 2003a).

a holistic, subject-specific approach is needed to support all students in the complex process of learning to learn in higher education [] generic, decontextualised courses imply that [skills] are context‐independent techniques that can be practised in the void

Wingate, 2007

And obviously this issues quite a large challenge for us – the challenge to be universally ‘relevant’ to all of these students. This isn’t a challenge we should ignore, nor assume that we will transcend simply because we’ve recognised it. But there are ways through it, or around it, and the pedagogical approach adopted to this course shines a light on these.

This approach is situated learning and communities of practice, strongly informed by the work of Etienne Wenger-Traynor (cf. Lave and Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998) . Forgive me for my blatant oversimplifications, but these sociocultural theories see learning as social, as participatory, and as situated in a specific social and cultural context. The context fundamentally shapes the nature of what is to be learned, the processes of learning, and the identities of the learners. So, in the context of these theories, taught Master’s students are members of multiple, intersecting communities of practice, in which they (legitimately) have different levels of participation. They will have different levels of privilege, and of power, too, within these communities of practice. And so this works, if nothing else, as a very useful reminder that the complexity of identity and the situatedness of the potential audience for this course must unambiguously go beyond divisions of discipline, background or mode of study.

But I think it also works to underline the futility of striving for, or valorising, ‘universal relevance’ as the golden ticket for success here. If we’re honest about what it means to strive to be relevant, then we probably mean being ‘as relevant to as many people as possible’, which inevitably excludes certain groups or certain people. So although it feels very odd to say that ‘relevance’ isn’t high on the list of priorities for this course, it isn’t. Instead of aiming for relevance, we will instead aim to support and encourage participants to draw connections between their own situatedness, and their own social and cultural context, and the Cambridge graduate community of practice they are about to join.

Which sounds rather grand, but here are three practical ways in which it might be achieved:

  • Some gentle, formative assessment, threaded throughout the course. Some of this will be reflective, some very practical, and it will be designed to encourage participants to draw out these connections and to validate their experiences.
  • Legitimising a variety of approaches to the course – both systematic or selective – as well as a variety of directions to it, whether a student accidentally stumbles across it or is directed to it by an academic.
  • Multimodal content which elevates the voices of current taught Master’s students and positions them as the experts in this community of practice.

Moving swiftly on, then, to pre-arrival. This is a term which crops up in discourses of resilience, or alongside the metaphor of ‘hitting the ground running’: the purpose of this course isn’t to ‘get people up to scratch’, or to meet some idealistic, impossible goal of entry to Cambridge being a level playing field (as if). Instead pre-arrival here is being interpreted almost singularly in terms of transition to graduate study. But, rather oddly, there doesn’t appear to be much in the way of research into transition to postgraduate study or postgraduate learning – this is particularly noticeable as there’s so much out there on learning transition, from pre-school to the workplace.

[p]ostgraduate students, by definition, have been successful undergraduates and so there is an implicit assumption of competence in negotiating and performing in the HE environment

Tobbell and O’Donnell, 2013

Tobbell and O’Donnell (2013) attribute this scarcity to assumptions of graduate competence, because graduate students already have a proven record of success in higher education and are subsequently positioned as experts. This, and perceived similarities in teaching and assessment at undergraduate and taught postgraduate level within a discipline means that it isn’t always considered to be a particularly large leap.

A study at a university in Scotland (McPherson et al., 2017) into taught postgraduate transition identified three barriers that students face:

  • workload and confusion: competing demands on time and difficulties in prioritising tasks, uncertainty about success at PGT level, fast-approaching PhD funding deadlines, and a lack of experience or competence with skills and practices such as time management, organisation, or knowing how much to read
  • anxiety, integration and belonging: concerns about being part of a smaller, more able group (especially for those without external funding), and anxiety experienced particularly among those new to an institution
  • peer and staff support: feelings of isolation given difficulties in establishing social networks

The research above was very institutionally contextualised, but there is significant overlap between their findings and those from the (unpublished) self-evaluation reports from Master’s students. The problems identified here were not necessarily transitional in nature. But in the image below, the overlap with workload and confusion is in blue, with anxiety, integration and belonging in green, and peer and staff support in red.

CamGuides slide overlap

This is also reinforced by (as yet!) unofficial insights from the FutureLib project into the student learning journey at Cambridge.

But how do we turn this into a course? Into something which, as above, assists participants in drawing connections between their situatedness and the Cambridge context?

The ‘barrier-level’ categorisation of McPherson et al. is extremely helpful, but it’s necessary for CamGuides to leave it behind and think about different ways of categorising transition, or elements of transition, as students prepare to begin their taught Master’s degrees. In the context of CamGuides, transition is being thought about in three ways:

  • subject-specific transition – elements which are so deeply embedded in subject discourse and subject knowledge as to make little sense when separated from it – such as language skills, engagement with knowledge at a deeper level
  • subject-contextualised transition – elements where the subject has an impact on how something is done, or understood, but the core principles are often shared – such as balancing workload, time management, organisation
  • identity-based transition – what it means to be a graduate student, self-directed working, managing anxiety, understanding expectations

CamGuides will be leaving that subject-specific stuff well alone, and focusing on the other two. It means encouraging these connections (as above) to be developed and shaped within the context of the student’s chosen discipline.

So, the content. The course incorporates four topics, divided into six overlapping nodes. There’s an introduction to Cambridge, to the physical and online institution, providing both very practical information (i.e. what is Moodle) and information to generate a feeling of insider knowledge or belonging. Another focuses on what it means to be a graduate student, and how to develop, rehearse and enhance transferable, subject-contextualised practices like time management or self-directed learning.

Software, technology and the digital form a major part of this, with nodes on being a digital student, using digital tools as part of study practices but doing so critically, academic networking, and signposting to pre- and post-arrival support for the development of particular IT or software skills. And, of course, a focus on information literacy, mapped to and influenced by the university’s information literacy framework, which defines it in terms of four key competencies allied to a subject – finding resources, assessing them critically, managing them, and creation and communication.

[i]nformation literacy competencies are not intended to be linear, but be allied closely to academic subject skills and individual student development, thus supporting the collegiate education Cambridge students receive

Cambridge Information Literacy Framework, 2017

CamGuides, it is hoped, will leave students more confident, more aware of expectations upon them, more aware of the nature and flow of their course, its milestones, and more knowledgeable about Cambridge itself. Or that’s the plan, anyway…

*In the Q&A after the presentation, I was asked about technology and – specifically – how technology decisions could have been made before the content was written. This is a really helpful and insightful question. My official answer is that it shouldn’t have been. Ideally, it wouldn’t have been. But also that technology decisions shouldn’t be made after content is written. They should develop together. Technology is not neutral, nor are the choices we make about it, but neither does technology have independent pedagogical value that we tap into just by using it. One of my favourite articles on educational technology (yes, I do have favourites) deals with just this, and I recommend that everyone reads it: Hamilton & Friesen, 2013. We need to be critical of these choices at all points – if I ever find the time, I’ll write more about the implications of using the LibGuides platform for this course.



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Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

McPherson, C., Punch, S. and Graham, E. (2017). Transition from Undergraduate to Taught Postgraduate Study: Emotion, Integration and Ambiguity. Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice, 5(2), 42-50

Northedge, A. (2003a). Enabling Participation in Academic Discourse. Teaching in Higher Education, 8(2), 169–180.
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Tobbell, J., & O’Donnell, V. L. (2013). Transition to postgraduate study: postgraduate ecological systems and identity. Cambridge Journal of Education, 43(1), 123–138.
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Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wingate, U. (2007). A Framework for Transition: Supporting ‘Learning to Learn’ in Higher Education. Higher Education Quarterly, 61(3), 391–405.