ETL401 Blog task 3- ‘Information literacy is more than just a set of skills’

I thought of starting off by defining what information literacy means. It has become clear to me that information literacy has no one definition. However a definition that has helped to establish my thoughts is that of Abilock (2004) who defines information literacy as “a transformational process in which the learner needs to find, understand, evaluate and use information in various forms to create for personal, social or global purposes”. I also agree with Breivik & Gee (as cited in Langford, 1998), who discuss literacy as a dynamic concept and state that literacy “mirrors the expanding information needs of society.”

Currently information literacy can be seen as a set of skills that students must learn due to, as Herring mentions, an increase in the use of digital resources (2007, p.32). Is information literacy more than just a set of skills though? I believe so. It is a process that students follow to gain understanding and that can be transferable into different contexts throughout their lives. When viewing information literacy in the context of everyday life, as shown by Eisenberg (2008, p.39), the importance of an individual to be information literate, as well as, being able to apply these skills in an educational, public and business setting becomes apparent.

There are many models that teacher librarians can use to develop information literate students. Some of these include:

– Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (ISP)

– New South Wales model

– Eisenberg’s Big 6 model

Although slightly different in their structure these models have similarities. The most notable being, they all follow a process or a set of steps which an individual will need to work through to eventually understand a topic. Eisenberg discusses the idea of a “process” and states “…information skills are not isolated incidents, but rather are connected activities that encompass a way of thinking about and using information” (2008, p.40).

An important question that I find myself asking is, how do we transform our students into information literate ones? Eisenberg (2008, p.43) recommends highlighting these skills in the context of students learning experiences. For example a teacher librarian who will use the Big 6 model can: identify to the students the information process stage they are at when completing a task; use a sample piece to point out where the information process has happened; Model the information process by pointing it out when they are engaging in a stage of the process themselves. Herring (2007, p.34) similarly suggests that the information literacy skills should be incorporated into the school curriculum for the best results.

The process of information literacy is necessary and needs to be taught sufficiently to students as this process is transferable into not only an educational setting, but also that of business and other public settings. Information literacy should not be taught without a context for students to identify where in an information search process they are. It is important for the teacher librarian to ensure that when developing programs information literacy is embedded.

Reference

Abilock, D. (2004). Information Literacy: an overview of design, process and outcomes. Retrieved from http://www.noodletools.com/debbie/literacies/information/1over/infolit1.html

Eisenberg, M. B. (2008). Information literacy: Essential skills for the Information Age. Journal of Library & Information Technology, 28(2), 39-47.

Herring, J.   (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century :   charting new directions in information (p. 27-42). Wagga Wagga, NSW :   Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

Kuhlthau, C.C. (2004). Learning as a process, in Seeking meaning: A process approach to library and information services, Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited, pp.13-27

Langford, L. (1998). Information literacy: a clarification.  School Libraries Worldwide (pp. 59-72). Wagga Wagga, NSW : Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

New South Wales Department of Education and Training (2007) School libraries and information literacy. Retrieved from http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/schoollibraries/teachingideas/isp/index.htm

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