ETL401: Blog Task 3 – Is information literacy more than a set of a skills?

Is information literacy more than a set of skills that students are expected to learn?

Looking at the vast definitions of information literacy it can be seen how it could be assumed that information literacy is just about the mastery of skills. Broad definitions often reflect that information literacy incorporates confidence in the use of information and communications technology (Bundy, 2004), or is a set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyse, and use information (American Library Association, 2013).

Of course the acquisition of these skills is vital to becoming information literate, and they are the building blocks of information literacy, but further reading and understanding supports the fact the information literacy is far more than just a set of skills.

As a teacher librarian, part of our role is developing within students the skills to be information-literate, to be able to access the vast quantities of information we collect for them, to be able to process and understand the knowledge we provide for them, to be able to access and use the ICT equipment such as a computer, or the internet to find further information, and to be able to assess research and information for validity and worth. However, this teaching of skills does not encompass all of what is means to be information literate. Rather, it is the acknowledgement that information literacy is a transformational process within which students need to “find, understand, evaluate, and use information in various forms to create for personal, social or global purposes” (Abilock, 2004) and further develop higher-order thinking skills in order to engage in lifelong learning. So although the skills of information literacy are learned with the school environment, the knowledge and abilities gained are transferred further than the classroom and into the everyday life of living within an information and technological society.

Lloyd, Lipu, and Kennan (2010) discuss the ability of information literacy to ‘empower people in all walks of life to seek, evaluate, use and create information effectively to achieve their personal, social, occupational and educational goals’ and further discuss how being information literate is directly related to social inclusion within society (p. 7). This further supports the idea that information literacy is more than just a set of skills, rather a process that enables students to become functional, included, and contributing members of society.

Practically, we as teacher librarians need to be providing opportunities for students to be transforming their learning into lifelong learning. Giving them opportunities to engage in information literate practices that will be applicable and significant to the outside world. Can our students ‘just google it’ when they are out and about and looking to solve a simple problem, or answer a simple question? Can they assess the answers and information they receive for usefulness, relevance and validity? Can they produce their own information and contribute to online websites, blogs, and forums, and effectively convey their information and points of view? Information literacy incorporates the skills that will provide our students with opportunities, but it is through the transformational teaching of the skills, and the learning experiences that provide guided exploration in using these skills, that we are able to prepare our students to be active participants in a society dependent upon lifelong learning.

 

Abilock, D. (2007). Information literacy: an overview of design, process and outcomes. In Noodle Tools. Retrieved 13 May, 2013 from http://www.noodletools.com/debbie/literacies/information/ 1over/infolit1.html

Bundy, A. (ed.) (2004). Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework: principles, standards and practice. (2nd ed). Adelaide: Australian and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy (ANZIIL) and Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL). Retrieved 13 May, 2013 from http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.caul.edu.au/content/upload/files/info-literacy/InfoLiteracyFramework.pdf

Lloyd, A., Lipu, S., & Kennan, M.A. (2010). On becoming citizens:  examining social inclusion from an information perspective. Australian Academic and Research Libraries 41(1). Retrieved 13 May, 2013 from http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=990498153481889;res=IELHSS

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