E-literacy and Andragogy – a view through the Community Content Lens

O'Beirne, R (2005) E-literacy and Andragogy – a view through the Community Content Lens. JeLit 2(2).

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The Metadata for Community Content (MCC) project sought to explore how informal learning resources, once they had been assigned metadata, could be shared across a network of UK Online centres. UK Online centres are typically sited within community venues such as youth centres, public libraries, and community and village halls. During the past 7 years there has been an upsurge in community networking with initiatives such as Brixton On-line and Shipley On-line serving as examples of a practical response to national policies on social inclusion, digital citizenship and lifelong learning. As e-learning became more formalised within universities and colleges the aim of MCC was to develop a model that would do for informal community learning what a VLE (virtual learning environment) might achieve within a formal learning institute. One aspect was the investigation into learner modelling; an attempt to understand how learners learn informally using e-literacies within a community context. From this came much debate about pedagogy along with a recognition that learners within the community are engaged by an andragogical model and in fact are ‘turned off’ by a highly instructive learning environment. The andragogical model put a high emphasis on the learners’ ability to self-direct their learning, which in turn calls for high levels of e-literacy skills. Informal support structures such as public libraries are of key importance for these learners. The case study concludes with suggestions for further research into the relationship between information literacy and informal learning, and into public libraries and their position within a postmodern philosophy.