How can we improve our information literacy offerings in Further Education? Part 2

Photo of Jo Lapham
Jo Lapham

In our latest ILG sector rep post, Further Education Rep Jo Lapham follows up on a previous post she wrote about ways to improve information literacy offerings in FE.

As a library manager at an ever-expanding multi-campus further education college, my working days are beyond busy, but mid-way through Spring term, I started to find the time to think about what we can do to improve our information literacy offerings to our students.

At the beginning of the academic year, I had the pleasure of working with students who had joined the college at HE level, totally new to academic studies, having worked their way through vocational courses at FE level. I like to offer 1:1 help for these students and get so much out of the sessions myself, as I see their understanding and confidence grow. It really doesn’t take much to move an anxious, floundering student into a more comfortable zone. This made me think about the possibility of running small workshops during the summer for any of our FE students planning to move on to HE courses in the Autumn or any newcomers to the college who were dipping their toes back into education after a break. I am excited to trial this and need to start creating lesson plans.

With this in mind, I had a lucky break when a few weeks ago, when my days were busy with just surviving at work – strikes and staff sickness adding to the general chaos – I took some time out to attend a Jisc FE Forum meeting. It is very easy to skip things like this when you barely have enough time for lunch each day, but with so little support in FE, these meetings are a real lifeline*. In this particular event, we met Carole Burd from London South East Colleges who has created an online course helping students in exactly the way I want to, so I was enthralled. The course is open to the public at Head Start but is designed to help students moving up to HE to gain the skills they may never have learnt beforehand and goes far further than I had envisaged. Similar courses have been set up elsewhere (Pre-entry at the University of Sheffield and Flying Start at the University of Leeds) and I will be having a good look at these before writing my own lesson plans. It is encouraging to see that there is help out there for students like ours who find the transition from FE to HE so difficult and scary.

Do you have experience in creating information literacy lessons for transitional students? What methods do you find work best? What have your students found most helpful? Also, for any HE lecturers or librarians out there, what skills do you feel students are lacking when they arrive at university that we may be able to help them with before leaving us? *By the way, if any FE library staff out there would like to join the Jisc FE community of practice, please fill in the form found on their website or send them an email. They are a helpful bunch of people. There is always someone who has the answer to your question.

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