Time to narrow the research focus and reflect

12 May

Reflect by Franklumix

In my information literacy process for assignment 2, I have had to reach a point of reflection before going any further. Which information literacy process did I follow? Did I utilise any of the information literacy models in the process of this assignment? Did I apply the scaffold that they offer as a process to success?

There were two parameters that defined my approach. The first parameter was the assignment task and understanding what was being asked of me and the second parameter was Topic 4~ information Literacy; and the fact that I was part of the first group, out of two, that led forum discussion on this topic.

Initially, I saw this as a benefit, as the timing tailed the submission of the last assignment, and meant I did not have an opportunity to sit back for a week and take a breather. I believed it may mean that I will complete Assignment 2 earlier as a result. Was this the outcome?… Well I wouldn’t go that far as I am still working on ideas and assimilating a great deal of the information. In fact, I still am reading a great deal of information while formulating responses to part of my tasks.

Interestingly, research is not such a linear process for myself. It moves around and I revisit earlier stages, reformulate ideas, discard what I previously held to be true and take different positions with each addition of further ideas. It seems the approach to my current assignment is not linear either as I am moving around the tasks and trying to complete parts in various orders. For now I have left Task A. It definitely needs to take a breather so I moved on to Task B as I felt I had found my focus and could now move through this part of the assignment.

However, I am currently facing a conundrum with

Task B  Identify an obstacle which a teacher librarian might face in developing information literacy across the curriculum in a school, and how that obstacle might be addressed. Reference should be made to relevant literature (about 750 words)

A couple of days ago, I felt certain that I had identified an obstacle and it was the term ‘information literacy’ itself. I reasoned that we have an overload of ‘literacy’ definitions out there. This is certainly reflected in my earlier blog entries where I began my information search process. In the initial stage my focus was to identify different literacy ideas; ie media literacy, digital literacy, critical literacy, cultural literacy, visual literacy, transliteracy and the list continues. I felt determined that all the literacy ideas could converge under a banner of one super literacy with information literacy at the head or as the umbrella to the plethora of ideas. After embarking on this initial stage in my information research process, I soon reformulated my position and decided this was too big and it would be difficult to cover each literacy idea in depth under the banner of one literacy. Each literacy can be quite specific and a coordinated response was necessary to ensure they were covered.

Change strategy new purpose. My focus shifted to ‘information literacy’ as a term and the information search process as a process that is absent in some school environments; this certainly seemed to accord with my experience as a teacher in environments I had worked in. I started to reflect and think about why information literacy was absent in school environments and realised that I too did not have a clear picture of the term ‘information literacy’ even though I had heard it in school settings. My understanding of the term had been limited in the past and often it related to ideas associated with information technology or just a set of skills to undertake a research task. As simple as that. I realised that this was not too unusual in schools.

As a result my focus shifted to ideas about how to embed information literacy across the curriculum. My question at this stage revolved around ideas that the term ‘information literacy’ may be a problem. My readings seemed to corroborate this and I hypothesized If ‘information literacy’ is absent or misunderstood then this is the first barrier. Couple this with the plethora of literacy ideas out there then we have an even larger problem. Now the task was to convince the school community that Information literacy is THE literacy above all else. I didn’t feel quite convinced with this position and it certainly felt like a mammoth task.

Solution, I reasoned, get rid of the term ‘information literacy’. If the term is causing so much confusion then shift the focus, look to a shared language that already exists in the education world. Something less confronting, something that many teachers are already grappling with and try to incorporate information literacy this way.

I came across a reading by Green (2007) where PLC in WA developed their own approach to information literacy that did not even utilise the term ‘information literacy’ but rather the focus was under the umbrella of ‘Thinking Curriculum’. The approach was led by the teacher librarian and it was implemented across the school as a shared language and as an approach to embed information literacy across the curriculum. Green reasoned that “Thinking Curriculum” was an understood and shared pedagogy and thus the process of implementing information literacy via a ‘thinking curriculum’ focus worked quite effectively. This demonstrates a way to reach out to the education community in a shared and ‘known’ language. It seemed to indicate that the process of collaboration may prove easier if you begin with a shared language and hence embedding ‘information literacy’ this way may prove easier to achieve and less confronting as a ‘new’ idea. I thought I had nailed task B at this stage. I believed my moment of clarity had arrived and this was the path to completing this task.

However, for the first time in my studies this year I sought direct counsel from both my lecturers about this focus. In the past I have just posted the idea/question on the forum and worked with responses to my queries. I went a step further as there were no responses appearing and I felt eager to begin the writing process. Email was the next step, especially as I felt it may be a risk to suggest abandoning the term ‘information literacy’ when so much of our literature pointed to promoting it….

A few hours later I had a response from both lecturers and it was very helpful and detailed. However, I am now back at the stage where I need to rethink and reformulate my purpose. First consideration ~ is it possible to outline all the above in 750 words? Probably not. 750 words may not even be enough to discuss the term ‘information literacy’ as a barrier let alone move into the stage of discussing the proposed solution. Upon reflection I realise there were many ideas at play and maybe the focus is far more simple than this…

Task B is now having a breather…

Where am I right now? I have come to some understanding of Information Literacy in school settings. In terms of models, I can see that different stages in the learning process require different ideas. More scaffolding in early years to accommodate developmental needs and then, in later years, possibly a move away from this as students are guided to working on their own process based on prior learning over their years of schooling. By Year 10, I would hope to be moving students into the independent stages of the process whereby they feel confident in their own strategies and have devised methods that work for them.

The senior years of schooling are definitely a time where independent learning should be at the forefront of skills and process. The attributes required to reach this stage should have been embedded and transferred through the years of scaffolding leading up to this stage. By the time students leave High school, students should be able to take their individual process with them and move into the next stages of life whether it be more learning in an educational setting or application in work and personal situations.

Maybe I should attempt Task C at this stage…

Task C A critical synthesis of your reflection on how your view of the role of the teacher librarian may have changed during the subject. This should include examples captured from your personal blog and from participation in the ETL401 forum (about 750 words).

Note: Task C is to be posted as an entry on your blog. Please provide the specific URL for this blog entry at the end of the word document version submitted via EASTS which contains Tasks A and B.

Green, G. (2007) Information literacy: Time for a rethink?, Access, Sept, 2007, pp 9-11


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