The world of education is in a constant state of evolution and is influenced by developments in research, changing social and cultural expectations and rapidly changing technology. Keeping pace with this has been a necessary progression regarding what is taught in school libraries. There has been a move from isolated teaching of library skills, to teaching information skills for completing curriculum based assignments to the more holistic information literacy of today. It is imperative that students of today not be taught information skills in isolation but be expected to think about and practice how and when they might use these skills. Learning to synthesise these skills is crucial to students becoming information literate in today’s fast changing world.
A glimpse into the changing nature of our understanding of information literacy can be gained through a summary of some academic discussion on the topic. For example Langford (1998, p.59) queried whether information literacy is a concept or a process and also if it is a newly emerged literacy born of new technology and the need for 21st century skills merging with existing models of info literacy. He also asked if it is a teacher librarian (TL) generated literacy not relevant to the classroom teacher. His views can be encapsulated in the quote “ the concept of literacy really depends on the information needs of the society of the time.”
Abilock (2004, p.1) thinks that to be info literate means one is able to engage in a creative process to find understand evaluate and use info for a variety of social, personal and global purposes
The Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework lists a number of indicators that define an info literate person which incorporate a number of 21st C skills and processes and require the use of higher order thinking. (Bundy 2004)
Herring and Tarter (2006, p.3) translate this more specifically in terms of what an information literate student is be able to do. They are more specific also about the importance of transfer of knowledge and skills across time, content and context.
The question of how to best support students in becoming information literate has resulted in a number of models for the educator to choose from. Notable amongst these are Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (2004), the New South Wales model (NSW DET 2007), The Big 6 model (Eisenberg and Berkowitz 1990) and Herring’s (2004) PLUS model.
Information literacy then is not just about learning a set of isolated skills but of knowing how, why and when to apply these skills. It is entrenched in the process of learning and is infinitely transferable. It is concerned with finding, evaluating, synthesising, using and sharing information in a multitude of formats. A range of models exist to help educators with the practical implementation of programs to teach and assess student learning on the journey towards information literacy.
Abilock, D. (2004). Information literacy: an overview of design, process and outcomes. (ETL 401 Module 4). Retrieved April 23,2013, from Charles Sturt University website http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL401_201330_W_D
Bundy, A. (ed.) (2004). Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework: principles, standards and practice. (ETL 401 Module 4). Retrieved April 23,2013, from Charles Sturt University website http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL401_201330_W_D
Eisenberg, M. B. (2008). Information Literacy: Essential Skills for the Information Age. DESIDOC Journal Of Library & Information Technology, 28(2), 39-47.
Herring, J. & Tarter, A. Progress in developing information literacy in a secondary school using the PLUS model. (ETL 401 Module 4). Retrieved April 23,2013, from Charles Sturt University website http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL401_201330_W_D
Kuhlthau, C.C. (2004) Information Search Process. In Carol Collier Kuhlthau. Retrieved April 23, 2013 from http://comminfo.rutgers.edu/~kuhlthau/information_search_process.htm
Langford, L. (1998). Information literacy: a clarification. (ETL 401 Module 4). Retrieved April 23,2013, from Charles Sturt University website. http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL401_201330_W_D
NSW Department of Education and Training. (2007). The Information Skills Process. Retrieved Oct, 2012 from http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/schoollibraries/teachingideas/info_skills/assets/infoprocesscycle.pdf
Herring, J.(2004). PLUS model. (ETL 401 Module 4). Retrieved April 23,2013, from Charles Sturt University website. http://athene.riv.csu.edu.au/~jherring/PLUS%20model.htm