Information Literacy – 21st Century skills

The fact we live in an information society will come to no surprise to anyone.  Our lives are constantly bombarded with information, some real, some fake, most of it tainted.  Active and informed citizens need to be literate in this information society in order to be able to differentiate between the facts and fallacies.  They need to be able to seek, identify, use, evaluate and create information in all formats; for economic, social, vocational and recreational purposes.  Governments and in turn education sectors, seek to ensure that the current and future generations of youth are equipped to deal with this information overload in the present and in the future (Kaplowitz, 2014; Kong, 2015).   Information literacy is the phrase used to describe this skill set.

Information literacy within education as described by Lloyd (2010) is often viewed as literacy in a digital format, with close association to searching, analysing and evaluation skill with information.  Kong (2015) describes it as a “mastery of necessary knowledge to identify a need for; seek, use, interpret and synthesise information” (p.2). But before we can progress too far, we need to clarify what information is?  Information is a separate entity and that it needs to be discoverable by an individual (Lloyd, 2010). Its format can vary from text, audio, oral and visual images; but the result is it is absorbed by the brain and converted to information.  These groupings of data, now identified as information, are available to be discovered and made sense of by an individual’s cognition power. The process in which information is identified, collated, synthesised and comprehended can be assessed using benchmarks as a guide.  These benchmarks are most commonly known as rubrics, which place results on a continuum of learning.

 

A information literate person would have competency due to their cognitive approach.  This approach ensures that competency is achieved in knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes; which correlate to literacy standards (Lloyd, 2010).  As competency is achieved through multiple applications, the assumption is that once students are unconsciously competent in information literacy, they are able to transfer those skills outside the classroom.  This need for literacy to be transferable to life outside school means that information literacy needs to be embedded across the curriculum and year levels. It cannot be the outcome of a single subject or taught in an ad hoc manner as this is a cumulative process.

 

The other important aspect of information literacy is that it is collaborative (Lloyd, 2010).  Many educators would agree that learning is a social construct, as the collaborative gain of ideas far outweigh a single person’s cognitive strength.  This need to collaborate means that students are learning interpersonal and communicative skills at the same time as they are investigating. This holistic style of learning seeks to fulfil the emotional affect and cognitive strength of an individual.  

 

Kaplowitz, J., (2014) Designing information literacy instruction: the teaching tripod approach. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN : 9780810885851. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/csuau/reader.action?docID=1687304&ppg=6

Llyod, A., (2010) Chapter: 6 Landscapes of information literacy. Information literacy landscapes. Elseview.  DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-1-84334-507-7.50006-9

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