F. Truyen

K.U.Leuven (BELGIUM)
Adapting to the needs of the millenium generation student in a rapidly changing information society confronts our educational system with new challenges. During the learning process, students become more and more responsible for the management of there own information processes. After their graduation, the job market expects them to function as mobile knowledge-workers. It is therefore vital that students acquire the right attitudes and skills in order to survive in this information society. This implies that they learn the skills necessary to deal with the ceaseless information flood and to manage the information that was gathered. On the other hand they must be made aware of the digital footsteps their private, academic and professional activities leave and that they are capable of controlling this digital trace.

These issues go beyond the limits of courses or institutions. In many fields, teachers are confronted with students who notably lack the necessary skills. However, due to the specialization of the education it is difficult to include the required training in the conventional curriculum.

At the Catholic University of Leuven (K.U.Leuven) and its associated institutes for higher education we have initiated a multidisplinary effort to develop tools for the students to acquire the essential skills to improve their personal information management. This implies not only a wide range of practical competences, but also more conceptual skills, and more importantly, a consistent attitude, which are necessary in their educational careers and later in their professional life.
It is a common misunderstanding that these computer-related skills are only relevant at a basic level. Quite on the contrary, our research aims to show how deep this relates to the development of a professional profile and identity.

Our project has one main strategic goal and two operational goals. Our strategic goal is to make the students more aware of the need for adequate information skills, and learn that it is their own responsibility to upscale their competences where and when required. In order to achieve this goal, we are working towards two operational goals. The first operational goal is to implement a community where existing information, projects and experience from teachers and institutes throughout our association can be consolidated. This provides a single point of contact for the student about information skills: Our second operational goal is to develop tools such as tests, information leaflets, learning objects and news articles, which may help the students to train on these competences.

The resulting Information Companion - now actively integrated in our learning system serving 75000+ students on a daily basis - is a website that has three parts: a blog on daily life ICT problems containing both student posts that are moderated and corrected by staff members as well as posts by experts; a structured personal information guide to which blogposts link through tags, and a self-test for students to assess their awareness, also linked to the information guide.

In this contribution, we describe the results of a very large survey we performed with students (>7000 respondents). We look into specific gender differences and bachelor/master differences and do some evidence-based suggestions for adaptive remedy policies for universities.