CITE Seminar: Who cares about information literacy in the workplace

Updated: 5:01pm, 30 Aug, 2022
24 October 2017 (Tue)
Room 206, 2/F., Runme Shaw Bldg., HKU
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Chair: Dr. Sam CHU, Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong

The ability to identify the need for information, to access, to effectively use and present information - from an individual or a group perspective - is critical for any knowledge worker to be effective in the workplace. Business executives strongly support the idea that knowledge workers need to continue to develop themselves, to further understand external customers (or internal customers) needs, to draw on information and personal/collective experience to make decisions and present ideas. Information literacy enables employees to effectively undertake these activities and fulfil business goals. However, if information literacy is so important, why do we commonly hear only of the need to upgrade employees leadership, communication, time management, project management, team management, lean/six sigma or digital skills, but rarely hear of employees being encouraged to attend information literacy professional development course. Does that mean information literacy is unimportant Or do business leaders assume that all employees are equipped with information literacy skills from the education system Do business leaders expect their employees to acquire information literacy skills on the job. In this presentation, Bonnie will introduce a refined, perhaps controversial, definition of information literacy in the workplace. The phase Information Literacy does not mean anything to knowledge workers; IL are disguised within different functional labels, and business processes which are specific to the business context. Drawing on her wide experience helping global companies and senior executives establishing information/knowledge management strategy to become knowledge-driven companies, Bonnie concludes that the embeddedness of information in the business context makes it impossible to talk about information or information literacy out of context. This make the promotion of information literacy in the workplace extremely difficult (but not impossible). Through three angles, Bonnie will highlight why information literacy have not gained much traction in the workplace context. If information professionals are aware of the challenges, we are in a better position to make a difference. 1. Think about knowledge workers working in these functions: innovation, sales, marketing, client services, IT support, product management, business analysis, they have to interact with information to carry out their work. Information literacy is obviously needed. IL is  in their respective function labels. 2. Knowledge workers face different demands at work at different times - ranging from the need to drive efficiency/reduce costs increase effectiveness innovate handle crisis situation - and in different context, information is defined and handled in different ways. There is no one-size-fit-all information literacy process/tools that work under all business scenarios. 3. The level of information literacy exhibited in a workplace is highly influenced by the company culture. Whilst organisations with open, networked culture value information literacy, those with hierarchical, command-and-control culture would not value information literacy as much. Bonnie will share some real-life examples as to how information literacy can be introduced in disguised under the change management banner, focusing on delivery business-driven strategy and outcomes, helping employees to self-discover why and how they need to interact with information in their specific business context in order to deliver their business goals. Recommendations as to what IL practitioners, researchers and policy makers can consider to develop IL programmes in the workplace will be shared. So who cares about information literacy in the workplace Business executives who want to build information-driven business do, although they are not familiar with the IL label. Information professionals do, and we need to find a way to build the bridges and engage with the business in a language that they can understand. IL professionals are facing some serious threats and opportunities to make information literacy come to life in the workplace context. Join Bonnie to reflect on the issues together. Note: This presentation was first delivered as a keynote to kick off the European Conference on Information Literacy ECIL2017 in Sept 2017. The content is based on a book chapter titled The hidden value of information literacy in the workplace context: how to unlock and create business value in the Information Literacy in the Workplace, edited by Marc Forster, published by Facet Publishing in Apr 2017.


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About the speaker(s):

Bonnie Cheuk is a strategic, hands-on, business & results-driven executive with strong digital transformation, web/digital channel management, information & knowledge management, collaboration, social media and Enterprise 2.0 expertise. Originally from Hong Kong, she has 20+ years of international work experience with multinational corporations in HK, Singapore, USA, UK and Europe. Her expertise lies in blending her deep understanding of information/knowledge management, change management, communication/facilitation principles and practices with her knowledge of the latest technologies to deliver business solutions and drive change. She has led the successful roll out of social collaboration and knowledge sharing programmes for Euroclear, Citigroup and ERM. Bonnie is partnering with the business and technology leaders to shape the future Digital Workplace experience for employees, and refreshing the web, social media, digital strategy to improve client experience for a global financial services company. Bonnie's doctorate research focused on understanding the information seeking and use behaviour in the workplace context. Since then, she has developed strong interest in bringing information literacy to life in the workplace context. Bonnie publishes papers, gives lectures at universities and speaks regularly at international conferences. Bonnie is the author of Social Strategies in Action: Driving Business Transformation published by Ark Group in 2013.

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