Monday, December 20, 2004

Information literacy? Seeking clarification. This paper is by Linda Langford. It was first published in School libraries worldwide. 4(1) 1998: 59-72. It was republished in The information literate school community: best practice. Henri & Bonanno (eds.) Wagga wagga: CIS, Charles Sturt University 1999 pp 43-54.

From the site:

Information literacy! One should be forgiven if one becomes confused when confronted with educational writing and discussion on information literacy. Research in the area of information literacy is plentiful if one accepts the multiplicity of terms that could define this phrase. However, one could just as easily come through the research and still be asking, ‘What is it I am trying to understand, let alone teach?’ A plethora of writing and lectures about conceptualising, developing, and implementing information literacy fills whole conferences, and whole books and, indeed, adds significantly to the information traffic on the Internet. Yet it is apparent that, like the elephant in the Indian parable about the blind men, information literacy is defined differently by various schools of thought.

From where did this term emanate to occupy so much discussion? Is it a transfiguration, a concept that is age-old but given new clothes to fit in with the educational speak of the Information Age? Is information literacy merely an embellished view of the traditional understanding of literacy? Or has it become a full transformation of an educational tenet in the light of evolving understandings in learning theory?

Is it a concept or a process? Is it an embodiment of essential skills that have only had name changes over the decades? Or is it a new literacy that has been transformed from existing literacies to complement the emerging technologies for which the Information Age students must be skilled?

Why have not the understandings and skills that inform information literacy become embedded into the classroom practices of teachers and educational systems? Is it because information literacy is understood as something that is teacher librarian oriented and not part of the general curriculum?

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