Part C – Final Reflection

When I started this topic, I was aiming to expand my understanding of Information Literacy, and explore the role the Teacher-Librarian (TL) further. This has occurred, specifically in the area of advocacy. I have reflected on my past practice and how I could improve now with this extra growth in knowledge, application and understanding.

 

Information Literacy

Prior to undertaking this topic (ETL401) I understood the basics of Information Literacy (IL) to be research skills, referencing, and ethical use of digital information. I have come to understand that there are more than 3 types of literacy (Re-Defining Literacy), and the aim of IL skill development is to help students to develop skills for success in the 21st Century information environments.

One of my biggest take-aways from the readings and Module 5 discussions was the importance of context and purpose when defining IL and implementing it in the classroom. I have also been introduced to the concept of Information Fluency (IF). I have come to understand this as being associated with IL, but with a focus on fluency of application instead of just understanding and literacy. I am curious about this terminology and the implications of using different terminology within the field of IL. I lean towards seeing IF as an overarching term which encompasses IL and Digital Literacy (DL).

Within my practice I would like to explore IF further and compare it against IL and DL. I would do this to become more knowledgeable about different 21st Century learning processes, and to build my capacity to implement and advocate for a particular IL method. I think IF should be the aim of information skill develop in 21st Century teaching and learning.

 

Information Literacy Models

I was aware of some IL models prior to this topic, but have not had the opportunity to explore them thoroughly. Through readings and Module 5 discussions, I have come to understand some differentiating details between IL models. I have also found that there many similarities, and trying to identify in-depth reasoning behind not using a particular model can be challenging.

I found this area of learning relevant to my previous context where I was endeavouring to integrate inquiry units into HASS. For that task I chose the 5As as my IL model because another school in the region also used it and shared their resources. I now understand that the 5As are linked to Information Fluency. I was pleasantly surprised when I made this connection.

This module has caused me to re-think other IL models and the process of integrating them across the curriculum. Based on Lupton’s paper and various exemplars of practice in implementing an IL model from Module 4, I would like to explore GID, and the 5As further to identify which model would be best suited to my circumstances. As I mentioned, I think IF is a good way to achieve 21st Century skill development. I might explore this model first.

 

TL Role in Inquiry Learning

The role the TL must play in advocating for IL within schools has become clearer to me throughout this topic. This is in addition to developing relationships and collaborative opportunities with students and staff. This topic has solidified for me the need for the TL to be involved in faculty planning and curriculum development to ensure integration of IL skills. Discussion in Module 4.3 indicates a TL’s involvement in curriculum development is necessary as they can see the big picture and know where IL skills can be best integrated.

Advocacy is an area I do not have much experience in. These discussions in Module 3 and Bonanno’s video were significant to me as I began to consider data collection and advocacy as not just for usage statistics, but as a way to get staff and the Principal on-side with developing IL across the school. Module 3 also made me reflect on the ways I could have practiced advocacy with a supportive teacher audience and converted Principal.

Reflection and assessment tools to collect data on student learning is something I would like to explore further in the future. I would do this through the use of competency-based questionnaires and reflective toolkits, as discussed in Module 4. A common theme through 4.2 discussions was making yourself available in small ways and taking baby steps to convince staff that working collaboratively with the TL is a good idea. When I start in my next TL role, I will take this approach to ‘test the waters’ on staff opinion and practice.

 

While I thought I knew much coming in, I have added new areas to my TL knowledge which will enable me to provide a greater impact in schools, and better advocate for the use of a TL in schools. I am still learning to apply my critical thinking skills to a range of concepts.

Module 4 & 5: TL and the Curriculum & Information Literacy: Reflection

In these modules I really considered my interpretation and teaching of information literacy based on purpose and context.

As an overarching concept IL being linked to lifelong learning and its development in an ever changing information landscape is highly relevant to the context of learning for today’s students, and their development of 21st Century skills.

The connection between digital and information literacies is strong and they are often used interchangeably. I consider that Information Fluency is the overarching concepts and digital literacy and information literacy fit underneath it’s umbrella. To be fluent in something means that you can understand connections between concepts and apply them in different situations. Within each type of literacy there are smaller concepts which need to be explicitly taught and understood. For example, for information literacy the concepts include research skills (those included in various IL models), for digital literacy the concepts include ethical use of ICT, and use of software & hardware.

It has become clearer to me that I need to fully understand my own definition of these literacies in order to be most effective in applying them to unit and teaching them. My understanding so far encompasses use, analysis and synthesis of information and resources to achieve a goal.

Transition from outcomes-based learning to inquiry, Constructivist learning is an important part of changing the education system. Outcomes-based learning reflects what students know, what they can do with it and how confident they are in expressing their knowledge. An inquiry learning model allows students to explore areas of interest within a topic, they are introduced to inquiry process skills, and begin to learn how to learn. Use of inquiry learning has links to my module in INF530 about information fluency and digital age learners.

I have used adaptations of the Big6 model of information literacy and the NSW Information Search Process and Backwards by Design in the creation of collaborative inquiry units. I reviewed the SA TfEL framework for areas of connection to inquiry learning and found them throughout the document in Domain 3 and 4.

Domain 3: Develop expert learners focuses on teaching students how to learn and processes they can use to construct knowledge. It looks at promotion of learning through modelling and promotion collaboration and dialogue. To give students the responsibility to create, critique and apply knowledge in a variety of contexts. This description lends itself to the explicit teaching of inquiry skills (eg. identifying questions, note-taking, reflecting) and use of an inquiry model to gain deep understanding, journalling of thoughts, feelings and processes, collaborative discussions, using scaffolds to record information.

I found starting with the end point in mind with Backwards by Design planning a useful way of ensuring the end goal was met. My lesson content was then planned around what skills and knowledge do students need to achieve success at the end of the unit. I try to incorporate this thinking into any planning I do now, including that for inquiry learning.

In this module I enjoyed reading about different inquiry models and looking at the similarities and differences. I like the depth the Guided Inquiry Design (GID) goes into and the pace at which each stage is implemented. It seems like students would achieve a solid grounding in a range of skills at each stage. But I also think that the Big6 or NSW ISP might be simpler models to implement. There may be more transferrable techniques into the outside world as there are fewer steps to work through. I have worked with the Big6 and NSW ISP previously, but without comprehensive background knowledge into ways to fully explore each stage.

The connections with the Australian Curriculum General Capabilities (CCT and ICT) are evident but they are not obviously associated with GID. This does provide a large scope for TLs to create a process which fits their school context. I am keen to further explore Guided Inquiry Design and the work of Lupton and Bonnano in aligning parts of the AC general capabilities to this framework.

I am interested in further exploring the IFLA School Library Guidelines to develop my understanding of pedagogical and technological change and how it could be implemented.

21st century skills are integral to the learner of today. Students need to leave school having the skills and dispositions to answer their own questions accurately and to apply them in a professional setting. Students need to know how to evaluate information sources and search efficiently and effectively. Integration of GID into curriculum will assist students in developing these skills.

While assessing student success in inquiry skills can be difficult, it is necessary for TLs to collect data on student achievement and progress through their inquiry sessions. Like the AITSL video showed, I would collect pre and post data surveys on students’ self-assessment of the information skill being highlighted in the topic. It is important not to overload on the skills teaching during a single unit; but allow students multiple opportunities to practice and develop several well integrated skills. These can then be built upon in future inquiries.

I enjoyed these modules and would like the opportunity to put some the ideas about evidence-based practice and collaborative opportunities into practice.

Re-defining Literacy

Literacy: the ability to read and write, competence or knowledge in a specified area.

I think the definition of literacy is very broad and can encompass a range of different skill sets. As mentioned in the video What does it mean to be literate in the 21st century?there is basic/traditional literacy (reading and writing), critical and visual, aural, world, information social, and outdoor literacy (not an exhaustive list!). The availability of technology means that students require more advanced skills to become literate in these areas.

‘Competence of knowledge in a specified area’ is the definition of literacy that can be applied to information and digital literacy. Students need to develop competence/knowledge and skills in multiple literacies to be fully functioning 21st century citizens.

The increase of inquiry learning and technology use in the classroom means students are potentially provided with a wealth of opportunities to develop their information and digital literacy skills. A consistent approach to teaching these skills is necessary to assist students in transferring their knowledge between subject areas.

Blog Reflection

For the third blog for this topic (INF530) I provided a reflection comment for Emily’s post on technology trends.

This was my response:

Hi Emily, thanks for your post. I would like to reflect on your discussion of digital literacy.

In my view, digital literacy encompasses information literacy. There is a focus on locating, evaluating, and using information from digital platforms. Digital literacy is particularly important in the information environment we live in; locating information which meets the user’s need and evaluating it for accuracy and relevance are integral 21st Century Skills.

There are links between digital literacy, information behaviour, 21st Century skills and lifelong learning. Bawden and Robinson’s (2012) discussion of cognitive models of information behaviour and information search processes highlights the differences in how people go about finding information. With my TL hat on I see information search models (guided inquiry, project-based learning) as a platform for integrating the teaching of digital literacy skills. The development of digital literacy skills in students is dependent on the opportunities to learn and practice. These are skills which need to become second nature to students.

Your discussion of teaching skills to interpret information has strong connections to the readings from module 3.1. It brought to mind Brabazon’s (2009) discussion about what digital natives thought they should be learning. One respondent mentioned several times we should be teaching them how to learn (p.177, 180). Conole (2012) agrees with this sentiment stating, ‘learners need to develop strategies for finding and validating appropriate resources’ (p.55).

In my opinion, the focus of the Australian Curriculum should be the General Capabilities. They are the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority’s (n.d.) take on 21st Century learning skills and provide a checklist for students to show application and understanding of skills relevant to their futures. Digital and Information literacy fit into Critical and Creative Thinking and ICT Capability. As such, integration of the General Capabilities into teaching and learning covers elements of digital literacy and information literacy and assists in the development of lifelong learning skills.

Although students of today may have more screen time and access to more technologies than students used to, it is not right to assume they have the knowledge and skills to effectively and efficiently traverse the information landscape to achieve their goals. Conole (2012) states that ‘many learners, despite being competent technology users, lack the appropriate academic literacy skills to appropriate these free resources for their learning’ (p.52). Brabazon (2009) and Conole (2012) highlight that effective use of digital tools and resources relies upon development of skills in teachers and students (p.181 & p.51).

Schools with trained TLs have resources available to them to assist with skill development of both teacher and student. When classroom teachers work collaboratively with TLs, a range of opportunities for the teaching and application of digital and information literacy skills arise. Through inquiry learning students can develop these skills in context, and hopefully see the connections to future tasks.

References

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (n.d.). General Capabilities. Retrieved from https://australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/general-capabilities/

Bawden, D. & Robinson, L. (2012). Introduction to information science [London: Facet]. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/csuau/detail.action?docID=2076216

Brabazon, T., Dear, Z., Greene, G., & Purdy, A. (2009). Why the Google generation will not speak: The Invention of digital natives. Nebula, 6(1), p.163-180. Retrieved from http://www.nobleworld.biz/images/BDGP.pdf

Conole, G. (2012). Designing for learning in an open world (Vol. 4) [Springer]. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/csuau/reader.action?docID=1030803

Information Literacy

My interpretation of information literacy encompasses the development of skills to engage and interact with, and create new understandings from information, and to learn how to learn in an ever changing 21st Century, global information landscape.

I strongly agree with the arguments from this module (ETL401 – module 5.2) around context and purpose being important to information literacy instruction. I have experienced that integrated IL lessons have higher levels of student engagement than stand-alone lessons, as students can see a connection between IL skills and other curriculum tasks.

Take-aways from IL discussion into my IL role include:

  • Have a focus on context and purpose when preparing IL learning opportunities
  • Identify Information Literacy skills graduates should have
  • Have opportunities to work collaboratively to identify cross-curriculum IL opportunities