Information literacy (IL) is more than a set of skills, it is a process which develops higher order thinking and lifelong learning. Being information literate requires one to collect information from a variety of sources and synthesise that information and apply it to a question or problem. It goes beyond research and study skills, or use of ICT, as it teaches us how to learn and how to do so independently. Information literacy skills can be applied to all areas of the curriculum and post school years into the workplace and in everyday life. Consequently it serves to empower all learners by transforming information to knowledge for personal, social or global purposes (Abilock, 2007)
IL focusses on the development of skills related to information gathering, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. IL is the set of skills and knowledge that allows us to find, evaluate, and use the information we need, and importantly filter out the information we don’t need (Eisenberg, 2008). IL skills are the 21st century tools that help us successfully navigate the abundance of information available to us. The dramatic increase of information, new technology and social media makes it vital for students to learn how to critically evaluate information (Warlick, 2007).
The TL’s expertise in IL makes them an important leader in the school setting. Collaborating with staff on units of work ensures that IL is integrated into all areas of the curriculum and into all age groups. Utilising IL models the TL can work with staff to guide students through the process of learning using guided inquiry techniques. These IL models provide a framework for students to become critical thinkers, creative problem solvers and independent learners through self-directed units of work. The process of investigating and solving problems requires students to self-direct their work with a strong emphasis in the effective use of information (Bundy, 2004).
Although the definition of what IL actually constitutes is not clear and for teachers this creates confusion about what is meant by the term or how it relates to classroom practice (Langford, 1998), there is a general understanding that it is more than a set of generic skills as it teaches learners how to learn. It is clear also that there is a sense of urgency that IL be seamlessly integrated into all areas of the curriculum to ensure students develop their metacognitive skills to become confident, flexible learners in the modern age. It is important that IL skills follow a scope and sequence and that students have frequent opportunities to practice them in context of the overall information process, and real life examples (Eisenberg, 2008).
Abilock, D. (2007). Information Literacy. Building blocks of research: overview of design, process and outcomes. from http://www.noodletools.com/debbie/literacies/information/1over/infolit1.html
Bundy, A. (Ed.). (2004). Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework: principles, standards and practice (2nd ed.). Adelaide: Australian and New Zealand Institute for Informatin Literacy (ANZIL) and Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL).
Eisenberg, Michael B. (2008). Information Literacy: Essential Skills for the Information Age. DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, 28(2), 39-47.
Langford, L. (1998). Information Literacy: a clarification. from http://www.fno.org/sept98/clarify.html
Warlick. (2007). Literacy in the new information landscape. Library Media Connection, 26, 20-21.