‘Information literacy is more than a set of skills’. Present an argument for or against this statement, drawing upon the research and professional literature to support your views.
- My understanding of an information literate person is one who uses information effectively to learn, create new knowledge, solve problems and make decisions. They understand current ethical, legal, social, political and cultural issues when accessing and using information. They successfully use information and knowledge to demonstrate citizenship and social responsibility, and experience information literacy as part of independent learning and lifelong learning. This understanding is reinforced by current curricular and pedagogical learning processes that are extensively used throughout Australian primary and secondary schools, based on developing a holistic learning experience preparing students to become responsible and active global citizens in the 21st century.
- Langford (1998, p. 59), queries whether information literacy is a concept or a process, or a new literacy that has been transformed from existing literacies to complement emerging technology skills. Abilock (2004, p. 1) took a wider view of information literacy, arguing that it is a transformational process in which the learner needs to find, understand, evaluate, and use information in various forms for personal, social or global purposes. As a teacher I agree with this understanding of information literacy, as students are now provided with improved access and availability to information from a wide range of sources, with information literacy becoming a flexible concept that changes criteria to satisfy the particular needs of the students or school community.
- One of the distinguishing features of information literacy teaching in schools is the range of models which have been developed, with Herring’s (2006, p. 3) PLUS model from the UK a popular, efficient and effective information literacy structure used in many schools, as it can be adapted to suit the individual learning styles of all students, which is the ultimate aim of all teacher/teacher librarians when assisting students with their research needs. The PLUS model is used directly by students and its elements are Purpose, Location, Use and Self-evaluation.
- In Australia, the New South Wales model (NSW DET 2007) is used in many schools. The steps in this model are: Defining, Locating, Selecting, Organising, Presenting and Assessing. Using any of the information literacy models model as an information skills scaffold or support for students will successfully improve students’ planning, researching, reading for information, note taking and structuring of written assignments, enabling them to achieve successful independent learning skills which they can transfer to other areas of the curriculum or into their daily lives when problem solving or as active participants in addressing global, cultural or environmental issues.
- Teachers have specific knowledge of the individual learning styles of all their students and can adapt to their needs accordingly, whilst bearing in mind the various learning stages the students are experiencing and at what level of independence or self- direction; the ultimate goal being that learners become information literate, self-directed and independent learners.
- Information literacy is more than a set of skills. It is an essential element for lifelong learning, where the need to identify, locate, access, evaluate and present necessary information encapsulates information and communication skills, combined with a global perspective where people are informed citizens and active participants in a global culture (Bundy, 2004, pp. 1- 4).
Word count: 525
Abilock, D. (2004). Information literacy: an overview of design, process and outcomes. Available from: Noodle Tools.
Bundy, A. (ed.) (2004). Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework: principles, standards and practice. 2nd ed. Adelaide: Australian and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy (ANZIIL) and Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL).
Herring, J. (2006). A critical investigation of students’ and teachers’ views of the use of information literacy skills in school assignments. School Library Media Research, 9.
Langford, L. (1998). Information literacy: a clarification. School Libraries Worldwide, 4(1).