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Information Literacy: Process to definition ~ Part 1

18 Apr

The previous few posts on this blog covered my exploration of literacy and the various forms of transformation it has taken over recent years. In trying to develop a more concise perspective of the multiple literacies available, I keep coming back to multiliteracy as a concept. It is a great umbrella for the multitudes of literacies out there and it covers most, if not all aspects explored. All literacies are important and add to our understanding of our world. It is a necessary skill for the 21century and the information explosion has made this even more urgent. Searching different literacies has felt like a process of literacy overload or more correctly information overload. However, the multiple literacy ideas we are presented with (and I haven’t covered them all!) are useful in understanding what literacy skills are beneficial in our information world. It is from this point that I want to turn specifically to investigation of information literacy…

Following is the first post in my investigation on the forum for my course and I have posted part of it here.  It predates the previous posts on literacy on this blog.

At present, I have just read the initial articles, accessed some websites that have been recommended and read a few posts in the forum. I am in the initial stages of the information process and I know I will be developing and revising my thoughts over the coming few weeks.
A few ideas come to mind:
1. Many of the information literacy models are similar to Bloom’s Taxonomy in terms of steps and higher order thinking.
2. Many of the models don’t have a great deal of student-centred or driven approaches to establishing and guiding the process. This has led me to think of a way to possibly achieve this.
3. A similarity between all models in process relates to scaffolding and integration across the school.
4. A lack of understanding presented by most in terms of reading ‘body language’, links to emotional/social intelligence and how this can be incorporated within literacy models. Although, you can argue that group work is a way of working towards developing these competencies. (I have definite ideas about the importance of performing arts in schooling and how they lead to such competencies)
The first point is very relevant and something that I want to investigate in further detail. More analysis needed before I can add ideas.
The second point is acknowledged in Herring & Tartar (2007). There is acknowledgment that this is an area lacking and the scaffold of the plus model booklet for students may be posed as being student focused as students are able to use this booklet to track questions, research process and evaluation. However, it is still a booklet developed from above and not by students.
I started to wonder how do we involve students in devising and guiding the process themselves, (more further investigation needed!)
My initial thoughts traveled to the idea of involving students in setting criteria for evaluation of projects as a possibility. As an example, In one project I had a class of students embarking upon the making a short films specific to genre.  At the outset of the process a class discussion about how do we assess the project was undertaken. The session was a brainstorm where students came up with their own criteria for assessment.
The whole criteria was student led and created. The result is that the students felt they defined what was needed to achieve the outcome(s) and they felt they owned the process. It became a conscious process in their working. As a result they were ‘thinking’ about what they needed to do to be successful. They utilised the criteria created as a checking process in the process of planning, learning and creating. They worked very independently, on their projects and I helped as a ‘guide’ throughout the process.
How does this link to information literacy? I questioned can thinking about the end product at the outset and thinking about outcomes and how to achieve them or display them be a key to encouraging student-centred approaches and involvement in the inquiry process. Does this facilitate a shift to empowerment and possibly transference of skills? At this stage I don’t know but it is something I want to investigate further.
The final point relates to emotional/social intelligence and its connection to literacies. When you consider the importance of social networking and web 2.0 tools, clearly it is social/emotional intelligence that may need assimilation in the various literacy models or possibly new models.
In terms of social/emotional intelligences, the performing arts/visual arts are definitely overlooked and this may be a key that all schools and national/international bodies can investigate. Drama/music and the arts are still negotiating inclusion to the ‘National Curriculum’; a reflection of an area that is not valued enough. When you consider that the arts are about meaning creation and transference of meaning then the arts lend themselves to skills that are relevant when discussing concepts of literacy that are linked to social/emotional readings.
Just initial thoughts, I am only at the beginning stages of investigation and I still have a long way to go….

Following are some useful links as a start in the process of defining Information Literacy:

The information read and accessed for the forum post include:

Herring, J. and Tarter, A. (2007). Progress in developing information literacy in a secondary school using the PLUS model. School Libraries in View, 23, 23-27.
Langford, L. (1998) Information literacy: A clarification, accessed at http://www.fno.org/sept98/clarify.html
Abilock, D. (2004). Information literacy: an overview of design, process and outcomes. accessed at http://www.noodletools.com/debbie/literacies/information/1over/infolit1.html
Herring, J. (2006). A critical investigation of students’ and teachers’ views of the use of information literacy skills in school assignments. accessed at http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/aasl/aaslpubsandjournals/slmrb/slmrcontents/volume9/informationliteracy.cfm
The process of moving towards an Information Literacy definition has begun… Now for some time to assimilate the literacy overload before I take the next step….
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