Payne, G. and Littlemore, K. (2010) Visual literacy, student employability and the role of librarians. Poster presented to: The University of Northampton Learning and Teaching Conference 2010: Learning Dialogues, The University of Northampton, 13 May 2010.
In the UK we live in a society that tacitly equates information with the written word. Clues to the precedence accorded to text-based data over visual information surround us. The most recent Higher Education Academy Employability paper (HEA, 2007) makes no mention of the need for visual literacy skills. By neglecting visual literacy, we run the risk of sending our students into the job market, and into society, ill equipped to consciously decode the images streaming towards them, and conversely, unable to create and encode visual data, whether it be for business graphs or to commission a website etc. Since 2004, the library at the University of Northampton has run a successful undergraduate Information Management module, which is available to all first years and has an annual cohort of around 80 students. In 2007, a strand dedicated to visual literacy was developed by the University’s arts library team and added to the module programme. From the favourable student response, the content awakened something within the students, and proved stimulating and timely. We now have a growing research interest in understanding the role librarians have to play in developing and delivering visual literacy programmes and the impact of visual literacy on student employability. The “Learning Dialogues” conference will enable us to share our research project whilst it is in progress in particular: the methods we are employing to understand the need for visual literacy to enhance employability (dialogue with students), how we are bench marking other UK institutions (through visiting these institutions) and comparing our role with that of information professionals in the USA and Australia (through interactive dialogue). Rees, C., Forbes P., and B. Kubler (2007) Student Employability Profiles: A Guide for Higher Education Practitioners [online]. York: Higher Education Academy. Available from http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/York/documents/ourwork/tla/employability_enterprise/student_employability_profiles_apr07.pdf [Accessed on 26, November 2009)