Reflections on the Report of Committee of Enquiry into the Changing Learner Experience.

Melville, D. (2009) Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World: Report of Committee of Enquiry into the Changing Learner Experience, Available at: [Accessed 29 May 2009].

I have been reading the recently published final report of the Committee of Enquiry into the Changing Learner Experience, and thought it would be worth sharing some of the key messages from the report. The Committee has been established and supported by ten principal bodies responsible for UK Higher Education (HE) and headed by Prof Sir David Melville.

The report identifies the crucial issue of undergraduate students’ lack of information literacy and web awareness skills that are needed in a digital age. Students are active users of social web tools and services (generally referred to as Web 2.0 tools); for example, 90% are regular users of social networking sites. However, these students lack the analysis and critical skills for effective use of web-based resources: ‘Students tend to go no further than the first page or so of a website and, if they don’t find what they are looking for there, they move on to another.’ The Report stresses that HE students need help and support both in identifying and in evaluating information on the web, and in ‘understanding and application of good practice in constructing searches, establishing the validity of sources, and by extension, attributing them when appropriate’ (p. 23).
Based on the evidence gathered, the Committee concludes that HE students lack the skills required to make appropriate and ethical use of information available from the Web, and recommended that HEIs should ‘treat information literacies as a priority area and support all students so that they are able to identify, search, locate, retrieve and, especially, critically evaluate information from the range of appropriate sources… and organise and use it effectively, attributed as necessary, in an appropriate medium’ (Melville, 2009, p. 10).

One of the key recommendations of the report is that the HE institutions have responsibility for helping their students to learn information literacies ‘in an age when information is readily available from a multiplicity of [web-based] sources and in a wide range of formats.’

Palitha Edirisingha

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