It warms my heart each time I glance at this statement filling me with a sense of nostalgia! It takes me back to a time when I would lose myself in tales of adventure and fantasy trying to solve the mysteries of the universe. What a powerful tool reading is and it speaks volumes in 21st century learning environments.
Today, as I expand the breadth of knowledge that I continue to unravel and consume, I am coming to the realisation that reading, or perhaps, Literacy is more than just a tool and a skill set, it is a way of life and as 21st century educators we are in a powerful position to harness our own knowledge to better prepare our students in the pursuit of lifelong learning!
In a rapidly changing informational landscape, Information Literacy (IL) is fast becoming a prerequisite in 21st century learning environments. Our students have the ability to access a bank vault of information at anytime and anywhere! The stroke of a button allows students to access various forms of media and as such, requires them now, more than ever to be equipped with the necessary skills to respond critically and responsibly. IL, through the utilisation of essential knowledge and skills has the power by nature to transform, creating well-rounded literate individuals and is “key to becoming a lifelong learner” in the 21st century (Bomar, 2010, p.75). However, this can only be achieved through advocacy and the promotion of the “free flow of information and ideas in the interest of all Australians and a thriving culture, economy and democracy” (ASLA and ALIA, 2009) hence, underpinning the fundamental role of today’s Teacher Librarians (TLs).
No consensus on definition …
Information literacy is acute to 21st century learning, it is complex, transferable, and contextual extending across the whole curriculum, thus put simply it is more than just a set of skills it is a way of life. As with any puzzle, IL is an intricate ‘process of transformation’ (ETL401, 2015) where by students are expected to think critically, working through various problem – solving stages, asking the ‘big questions’, filtering out unnecessary bits of information (Eisenberg, 2008) to achieve their objective and “function effectively in the information landscape” (Probert, 2009, p.25). While the process may not be linear, each stage must be completed. IL today, is a “basic skill set” (Eisenberg, 2008, p.39) in the acquisition of learning with visible connections to knowledge and skills while “the process provides a structure for applying skills that can seem disconnected: technology within the process gives focus and flexibility” (Eisenberg, 2008, p.40) thus, creating meaningful learning opportunities to meet the real needs and interests of autonomous learners (Bundy, 2004).
Informing practice through support …
Best practice requires TLs, as leaders to adopt and develop a “culture of enquiry” (O’Connell, 2012, p.8). An instructional framework in conjunction with guidance enables learners to learn (Probert, 2009) and make the necessary transitions within the IL process with seemingly minor disruptions as they grapple the challenges and skills to meet their objectives. Moreover, it is this guidance and clear direction from TLs that assists learners in making successful and informed choices while also providing opportunities to reflect in order to develop a sophisticated understanding of the knowledge (Probert, 2009, p.25). TLs are in key position to exploit resources and extend learning through IL in the pursuit of lifelong learning (Bruce, 2004).
As discerning users of ICT, TLs are at the forefront of the educational evolution and are equipped with essential resources and skills to seamlessly integrate and embed IL into an evolving curriculum within 21st century school communities (ALIA and ASLA, 2009). Moreover, if students are to be successful, not only in school but within the wider community they must learn to navigate the informational pathways in which they have access to; mastering technology is simply not enough, they have to be able to use these skills to infer, evaluate and understand knowledge to be information literature and successful. Supporting, fostering and building on what students already know through appropriate materials and resources provides opportunities for ‘deep knowledge’ (Hay and Todd, 2010, p.4) while “adopting a resource based learning approach ensures resources enhance the teaching and learning outcomes of the learners.” (ALIA and ASLA, 2009). It is through IL processes and high quality teaching and learning strategies such as, RBL that students are able to become astute and sophisticated and ethical users of ICT in 21st century learning.
Finally, as visionaries, TLs must “know their product” (Hainstock, 2010), be influential and continue conversations beyond the library space collaborating with colleagues and stakeholders. Information Literacy is a whole – school approach that results in high quality teaching and learning with ‘positive student outcomes’(2010) creating well – rounded literate individuals in the pursuit of lifelong learning.
Seeking the future…
Read, read for pleasure but seek meaning and understanding in real and imagined worlds for reading is a window to the world and the future, and Information Literacy is the key!
American Association of School Libraries. (AASL). (2007) Standards for the 21st – Century Learner Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/aasl/standards.
Australian School Library Association (ASLA) and Australian Library Information Association (ALIA). (2009). Statement on information Literacy. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/information-literacy.aspx
Australian School Library Association (ASLA) and Australian Library Information Association (ALIA). (2009) Statement on resource based learning and the curriculum http://www.asla.org.au/policy/resource-based-learning-curriculum.aspx
Bomar, S. (2010). An Annotated Bibliograhpy: A School – Wide Instructional Framework for Evaluating Sources. Knowledge Quest – The Future of Authority. 38 (3) pp. 72 – 75
Bruce, Christine. (2004). Information Literacy as a Catalyst for Educational Change. A Background Paper. In Danaher, Patrick Alan, Eds. Proceedings “Lifelong Learning: Whose responsibility and what is your contribution?”, the 3rd International Lifelong Learning Conference, pp. 8-19 Yeppoon, Queensland.
Bundy, A. (Ed.). (2004). Australia and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework: Principles, Standards, and Practice (2nd Ed.). Adelaide
Eisneberg, M. (2008). Information Literacy: Essential skills for the information age, Journal of Library & Information Technology, 28 (2), pp. 39-47
Fitzgerald, L. (2015). Learning Modules: Topic 4 Information Literacy
Hainstock, C. (2010). Taking the driver’s seat, Connections:School Catalogue Information Service, 74. Retrieved from http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/connections/taking_the_drivers_seat.html
Hay, L. and Todd, R. (2010). School Libraries: A School Libraries Futures Project. New South Wales Department of Education and Training, pp. 1 – 45 Retrieved from http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/schoollibraries/assets/pdf/21c_report.pdf
Skrzeczynski, C. (1999). Breaking the barriers : sculpturing an information literate school community. In J. Henri & K. Bonanno (Eds.), The information literate school community : best practice (pp. 241-258). Wagga Wagga, NSW : Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.