Posted by: leish79 | May 14, 2013

Blog Task 3 – ‘Information literacy is more than a set of skills’

On first glance at the literature surrounding information literacy (IL) it would be fair to suggest that the term is solely concerned with the mastery of a particular skill set. Abilock (2004) refers to students finding, evaluating, exploring and questioning among other things and suggests that students accomplishing these skills to a high level results in IL. However, on closer inspection of the literature, it is clear that IL requires more than the mastery of skills if the student is to achieve lifelong learning and that all teaching staff share a role in the teaching of IL, it is not simply an add-on to be taught within the bounds of the school library.

Abilock (2004) defines IL as a transformational process during which students employ specific skills to make meaning of the information being considered and then convert that into different formats for specific purposes. Bundy (2004) identifies the information literate person to be defined by more than a certain skill set, but also by certain characteristics, beliefs, attitudes, knowledge, attributes, processes and aspirations.

Whilst the accepted definitions of IL vary significantly from author to author, the one premise that most authors agree on is that the desired outcome of IL is lifelong learning. Bundy (2004) considers IL as a prerequisite or an essential enabler to achieve lifelong learning and notes that to truly achieve IL requires sustained development throughout all levels of education. Whilst it would be fair to expect that the early teachings of IL are rooted in skill development, the ongoing inclusion of IL throughout the curriculum and throughout the levels of education leads to students developing the attitudes, characteristics, beliefs etc which define an information literate student. The continual inclusion of IL into all aspects of the curriculum throughout the levels of education appears to correlate with the notion that students become lifelong learners.

The role of the teacher librarian (TL) in developing information literate students is a collaborative one and the belief that IL is a set of skills that are taught within the bounds of the school library is a fallacy (Langford, 1998; Bundy, 2004). Bundy suggests that IL cannot be achieved through any one subject and must be included throughout the curricula to truly instil IL within students. This supports the notion that responsibility for the development of IL within students is a shared concern and that collaboration between the TL, the teaching staff and the principal is vital to the development of information literate students across the school. This notion of collaboration is reflected within the structured information models suggested to assist the development of IL.

What is clear from the research is that although no one accepted definition of IL exists, the premise that IL is merely a set of skills is false and the incorporation of IL across the entirety of the curricula in order to best prepare students for real life is necessary. Whilst many TL like to assume that what they are teaching within the bounds of the school library is being reflected across the school by the teaching staff, collaboration is the only way to ensure that this is actually occurring.

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

Bundy, A. (Ed.) (2004). Australian and New Zealand information literacy framework: Principles, standards and practice (2nd ed.) Retrieved from: http://www.caul.edu.au/content/upload/files/info-literacy/InfoLiteracyFramework.pdf

Langford, L. (1998). Information literacy: A clarification. Retrieved from: http://www.fno.org/sept98/clarify.html.

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