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

ETL401 Blog Task One: The Role of the Teacher Librarian in implementing Guided Inquiry.

In preparing students for lifelong learning in the rapidly developing information environment, teacher librarians need to be constantly searching for ways to engage our students in 21st century learning. Guided Inquiry is ‘a way of learning that meets the many requirements of the curriculum through engaging, motivating and challenging learning’ (Kuhlthau, 2007, p3). In order to successfully implement guided inquiry learning, the teacher librarian and teachers must work collaboratively to appropriately scaffold learning for their students.  This method of learning provides opportunity to ‘tailor learning experiences and opportunities, resources and processes to the needs and abilities of each student’ (ALIA/ASLA, 2009) and according to curriculum outcomes.

If we specifically focus upon the role of the teacher librarian in practice with regard to implementing a Guided Inquiry approach, we acknowledge the skills that a teacher librarian has within both teaching and information services. The teacher librarian’s role starts with the understanding of the curriculum outcomes and knowledge of the values that the students are required to take away from the Guided Inquiry learning.

The teacher librarian then begins the planning of lessons (perhaps again in collaboration with the teacher) and starts upon resourcing the learning experiences, selecting and utilising a variety of resources that are based on information literacy and are ‘combined with the rich resources of the school library and the wider community in a collaborative and supportive learning environment’ (ALIA/ASLA, 2009). This is where the value of the school library as a digital media infused learning environment and a ‘site of student learning, rather than of traditional scholarship’ becomes evident (Lee, 2012, p6).

Kuhlthau (2007, p. 32–33) discusses the importance of teacher librarians creating three separate learning environments called spaces when planning for Guided Inquiry learning. The first space, utilises students’ local and cultural knowledge, including Web2.0. The second space incorporates the school curriculum – the goals and learning outcomes of what is being taught. Students then engage in learning and research that creates the third space, where students use out of school knowledge to make sense of the curriculum. This enables students to engage in discovery, inquiry, thinking, and metacognition.

The teacher librarian creates significant teaching and learning experiences that develop deep knowledge, and skills that are relevant for use in the outside world. Through expert knowledge in the curriculum and its resourcing, the teacher librarian is able to support and guide their students through their learning encouraging higher order thinking and sustain and develop knowledge in the information search process which ‘allows students to become aware of their own processes and allows teachers and teacher librarians to frame the task, and to bring together learning in a meaningful way,’ (ALIA/ASLA, 2009).

 

 

References

ALIA/ASLA. (2009). Policy on guided inquiry and the curriculum. Australian Library and Information Association. Retrieved 22 March 2013 from http://alianet.alia.org.au/policies/guided.inquiry.html

Kuhlthau, C. (2007). Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century. Retrieved 21 March 2013 from http://www.kzneducation.gov.za/Portals/0/ELITS%20website%20Homepage/IASL%202009/KN- Kuhlthau%5B1%5D.pdf

Lee, Virginia S. (2012). Inquiry-Guided Learning: New Directions for Teaching and Learning. Retrieved 22 March 2013 from http://www.csuau.eblib.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p= 861722