Information Literacy? What's that?

"Information literacy is a theoretical and practical response
to the cultural, social and economic developments
associated with the Information Society"

Looking at what is involved in 21st Century Learning for the students of today, we must consider the effects of fundamental and rapid changes in the world around us. At the turn of this century, the words were quoted above by Webber and Johnston as they discussed 'Conceptions of information literacy: new perspectives and implications". They remind us that the quality, content and pedagogy of what happens in schools will need to keep pace in a responsive manner if students are to find their learning relevant to their needs.

The impact of microcomputers in the 1970's have been described as 'the second communications revolution' after the invention of the printing press
( Feather, 2000). Since then the influence of ever growing numbers of computer-chip enabled applications and devises such as e-mail, e-document content and delivery; digital access; mobile phones; information as product; information as process; information flow; information as images and much more have caused social observers and philosophers to argue for the present time as heralding the 'Information Age' and humankind now part of the 'Information Society'. (Hargreaves 2004)

Arguably then, a vision of a new agenda for education is one of enabling the students of today to manage the literacies of tomorrow in its multi-forms with multi - computer/ digitalized tools or technologies. Equally important, it also infers that successful 'navigation' through the world of information has now not only become a necessary learning goal for students of today, but also for older generations as part of their responsibilities of remaining informed and competent citizens.

Closely related to the need to re-evaluate the more traditional goals of learning to that of ensuring the education of children for tomorrow, is the use of the term 'life-long learning' in relation to education. In IB World Schools, a common mission statement, one of the goals we strive to achieve is that of life-long learning. This is one aspect of becoming information literate:-

The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable
and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world
through intercultural understanding and respect.
To this end the organization works with schools, governments and
international organizations to develop
challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment.
These programmes encourage students across the world to become active,
compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people,
with their differences, can also be right.

As far back as 1989 the ALA , in its 'Final Report page 1,' on 'Information Power' had attempted to define Information Literacy. Today this statement is one of the most quoted statements on the subject"-

"To be information literate, a person must be able to recognize when
information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate and use effectively
the information needed.... Ultimately information literate people are those
who have learned how to learn. They know how to learn because they know
how information is organized, how to find information, and how to use
information in such a way that others can learn from them" .

Questions for discussions:
What changes in teaching have you experienced during your career?
How do you agree or disagree with these statements?
How would you consider Information Literacy as an aspect of future learning?
What else do you know about information literacy?
How does the concept of information literacy connect with the PYP and MYP programmes?
After discussing information literacy in your groups, consider the implications of IL on your teaching: what responsibilities will you have in this area?

Further Information:
Information Literacy Organisation, UK:- /
Definitions of Information Literacy:-

Future Learning? - Why Information Literacy is important for our students.

The following video shows 'ASU Decision Theater' in action. It is one example of how information in its multi-modal forms could be shared in the future.

Reflection and Discussion: How far along the path to this future vision are you as a teacher? Is your school?

And just imagine what could be................

ALA, American Library Association (1989) " Final Report: Presidential Committee on information literacy:, Chicago, USA
Feather, J. ( 2000) "The information society: a study of continuity and change" 3rd edition, London: Library Association Publishing
Hargreaves, D.H. (2004) "Learning for Life:the foundations for lifelong learning", Bristol, The Policy Press
Webber, S. & Johnston, B. (2000) "Conceptions of information literacy: new perspectives and implications", Journal of Information Science, 26 ( 6), 381 -97