Posted by: eheino | May 11, 2013

Blog Task 3: Information Literacy is more than a set of skills

It is easy to say that information literacy is just a set of skills that students need to master in the 21st century. Certainly skills are a large component of information literacy. A closer reading of the literature, however, demonstrates that information literacy runs much deeper than simple skill mastery and the ability to use these skills in an educational setting. Information literacy is a transformational process for developing higher-order thinking and lifelong learning.  It involves acquiring knowledge from various information sources and adapting what has been learnt to solve a problem or need. Students with a mastery of information literacy will be able to transfer what has been learnt in educational settings to other areas throughout their adult life.

While much has been written of the importance of information literacy, there is not one agreed-upon definition. The most widely held view is that it is a set of skills and processes as well as an approach to learning (Herring &Bush, 2011). While it may be necessary to initially teach information literacy as a set of skills in primary and early high school, over time it becomes a methodology for learning, producing students who can reflect on the way they collect and apply knowledge rather than simply gathering and using information for a specific assignment (Langford, 1998). Adding to this, Abilock (2004) suggests that information literacy is a transformational process that crosses all boundaries of age and subject area to produce lifelong learners able to apply these skills and processes to all aspects of their adult life.

With the myriad of information now available to students, it is more important than ever before that teacher librarians, with their expertise in this field, are involved in information literacy acquisition. Students are forced on a daily basis to decipher what information is relevant to their needs (Warlick, 2007) and teacher librarians are well placed to assist students in developing these necessary critical thinking skills.  There are a number of information literacy models that have been implemented successfully in schools, such as Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (ISP), Herring’s PLUS model, Berkowitz & Eisenberg’s BIG 6 and the NSW Department of Education’s K-6 ISP Matrix. All of these models emphasise the importance of teacher librarian involvement in information literacy development. Kuhlthau recommends five roles for teacher librarians in her ISP; organizer, lecturer, instructor, tutor and counsellor (Kuhlthau in Thomas, Crow & Franklin, 2011). The teacher-librarian then operates at the level appropriate to support students engaged in activities beyond their present level of expertise (Thomas, Crow & Franklin, 2011, p.50-51). By fulfilling these roles, teacher librarians are able to bolster student ability and enable them to become information literate members of society.

Literacy has been at the centre of education for time immemorial. It enables us to be functional members of society, and to appropriately use information. Information literacy enables us to not only read and comprehend information, but to assess, evaluate and use information from a variety of sources to create our own meanings. In the information society we live in today all citizens should be equipped with the abilities and attitudes to make intelligent and informed choices provided by information literacy models. It is up to teacher-librarians to ensure that all students in all schools are given this opportunity.

References:

Abilock, D. (2007). Information literacy: an overview of design, process and outcomes. In Noodle Tools. Retrieved 27th  April, 2013 from http://www.noodletools.com/debbie/literacies/information/1over/infolit1.html

Herring, J. & Bush, S. (2011). Information literacy and transfer in schools: Implications for teacher librarians. The Australian Library Journal, 60(2), 123-132

Langford, L. (1998). Information Literacy: A clarification. In From Now On: The Educational Technology Journal. Retrieved 27th April, 2013 from http://www.fno.org/sept98/clarify.html

Thomas, N., Crow, S. & Franklin, L. (2011). The Information Search Process: Kuhlthau’s legacy. In Information literacy and information skills instruction: Applying research to practice in the 21st century school library (3rd ed., pp. 33-58). Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.

Warlick, D. (2007). Literacy in the New Information Landscape. Library Media Connection, 26(1), 20-21

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  1. […] Heino, E. (May 11, 2013). Blog Task 3: Information Literacy is more than a set of skills. In A Maze of Discoveries [Blog Post]. Retrieved from: https://eheino.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/blog-task-3-information-literacy-is-more-than-a-set-of-skills… […]


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