Information Literacy and my role as TL
Literacy requires foundational skills of not just being able to read, write, listen and speak, but to make meaning from what has been read, written, heard or said. It is only when these skills have been mastered that multiple literacies can emerge within the complex digital landscape. I remember hearing a teacher say many years ago that literacy is the foundation of all learning. Holdaway also acknowledges this, stating literacy is the foundation of learning in all areas of the curriculum (Holdaway, 1979). Holdaway (1979) also states that to ‘integrate a literate society, it is important to foster a lifetime habit of purposeful and critical reading for information, education and recreation.’ Likewise, Zurkowski in the same decade also shared concerns with the increasingly complex and rapid development of the information landscape and suggested that a national program be created so that citizens would be information literate by 1984 (Kurkowski, 1974). Even though these ideas were published forty years ago, these concepts are still very much relevant today and resonate with the 21st century skills of the Australian Curriculum. Just as foundation skills are important to information and digital literacy, so to is the research conducted forty years ago. Clearly, the research doesn’t change, it is just adapted to suit the challenges and ever-evolving information landscape of the 21st century! Even UNESCO is on board!
Information literacy is certainly diverse and interesting, and can have a myriad of definitions depending on the context and purpose that information literacy is required. Trying to figure out what it means to me as a teacher-librarian is so important, because if I don’t understand it and have a clear picture of what it means, then how can I teach students the skills necessary to be information literate? For me to understand it, I need to think about my own context and purpose.
Whilst students love to search for information through easily accessible sources such as Google and Wikipedia, changing these badly formed habits is not going to happen overnight. And whilst our students may be able to use a computer and its software, it is definitely used on a superficial level. Students will need to gain competencies through a range of digital literacies, including computer, ICT, Web 2.0, Internet, Media literacies, as our readings suggested. However, with Information Management, I do wonder whether students will need to be skilled in the other literacies first. If information management means being able to locate, filter, select and evaluate information, won’t they need to master the other digital literacy skills necessary to access these sources first?
I have been sharing some useful strategies for colleagues on how to encourage students to access the wonderful e-resources we have available. As these resources or access to these databases hasn’t been promoted in recent years, I understand WHY our students do resort to the ‘quick fix’ of google searching! I realise now that I have a mammoth task ahead of me to think about how to share the importance of information literacy – and decide whether it is indeed a set of skills or a way of learning, as Bruce, Edwards and Lupton debated (2007). Because ‘people see literacy differently and our ways of seeing Information Literacy, our ways of seeing teaching and learning are likely [to] influence our approaches to and experiences of IL education (Bruce, Edwards and Lupton, 2007). I think every school will need an Information Literacy model and fortunately, there are a range of models that have been developed. These models will hopefully not only help students, but teachers too with inquiry learning and approaching inquiry based tasks.
Holdaway, D. (1979).The foundations of literacy. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Zurkowski, P. G. (1974). The information service environment relationships and priorities. Related paper no 5. National Commission of Libraries and Information.
Bruce, C., Edwards, C., & Lupton, M. (2007). Six frames for information literacy education. In S. Andretta (ED.). Change and challenge: Information literacy for the 21st century. Blackwood, SA: Auslib Press. eBook, CUS Library Reserve.