Information Literacy: innuendo or insight? This paper is by Avril M. Loveless and David J. Longman. It was originally presented at the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference (September 11-14 1997: University of York).
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We present as problematic the definition of literacy in the 'Information Age' and the nature of the experience, skills, knowledge and understanding that teachers will need to develop in continuing professional development. This paper will critique an approach to information literacy; outline the use of a framework of 'good practice' in using information technology in the classroom and propose that information literacy for teachers is more than competence and capability in information retrieval and presentation, but requires awareness of the ideological, cultural, epistemological and pedagogical practices in which these capabilities are developed.
There is much discussion about the definition of literacy in the 'Information Age' and the nature of the experience, skills, knowledge and understanding that teachers will need to develop in initial teacher education and in continuing professional development. This discussion is currently taking place in a context in which literacy, numeracy and Information Technology (IT) skills are given prominence in English teacher education, both in the development of educational policy and the direction of statutory requirements. The summer of 1997 has been filled with writing responses to Dearing, the Stevenson Committee, Oftel, the National Grid for Learning, the People's Lottery and the Teacher Training Agency's proposals for a Teacher Training Curriculum in IT.
We are concerned that the discussions about 'teacher knowledge' and pedagogy should be more closely linked with discussions of literacies and what it means to be educated in the 'Information Age'. At a time when there are calls to measure teachers' IT abilities, there needs to be more detailed consideration of the construction of those abilities (Selwyn 1997). There is a danger of a headlong rush to embrace IT - accepting the claims made for its potential to challenge and extend teaching and learning and inferring the links between those claims and the action that teachers will be asked to take in their professional development. We need to explore the nature of those links in our research efforts in order to gain more insight into teachers' 'information literacy'.
This paper will outline our areas of concern; discuss an approach to information literacy; highlight some questions raised and consider another framework for thinking about effective pedagogy with IT. We then raise questions about the implications of this framework for our teacher education courses, our project work and our research.