Information Literacy is so much more than a set of skills. Information Literacy involves a process. It is a means of developing skills in critical thinking and in problem solving, it is the means of developing a life long process of learning. Abilock (2004) further reiterates this idea, by stating that information literacy is “a transformational process in which the learner needs to find, understand, evaluate, and use information in various forms to create for personal, social or global purposes”(p.1).
It is easy to get bogged down in the huge amount of definitions of Information Literacy. Obviously it is not an easy term to define. A definition of Information Literacy that I have found which is concise and covers the major ideas is from The Stanford University website. The website defines Information Literacy as forming “the basis for lifelong learning. It is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning”. The terms in this definition that appeal are the sense that it is common to all disciplines& environments and is the basis of lifelong learning.
The terms “set of skills” conjures up definitions of skills achieved and set outcomes. Information Literacy is more than that, it is about moving through a process which involves a beginning, but the student may not come to a scheduled ‘end’. Information Literacy appears to require revising and reassessing information, selecting and discarding, as well as being able to produce a reflection of this process. But that process may not end there – for someone who is information literate, the process continues.
According to Eisenberg, Information Literacy requires structures that develop relevance and transferability in students learning. We see this transferability referred to in the Stanford University definition which states that the process is common to all disciplines, learning environments and education levels. Someone who is Information Literate can take the same skills they use to research one subject, into another. From one level of education into the next.
The NSW DET model shows this transferability by illustrating the model in a circular diagram with double ended arrows, meaning one can travel backwards and forwards throughout the process. Although the NSW DET model does provide a set of objectives – these objectives do not refer to the final product. They are merely a way teachers can assess that a student is actually moving through the process.
In conclusion, information literacy is not just a set of skills to be acquired, it is a continual process of acquiring experiences that allow for a development of skills, attitudes and behaviours. This development of skills will lead to a process of life long learning that can cross a multitude of situations.
Abilock, D. (2004) Information literacy: an overview of design, process and outcomes. NoodleTools. Retrieved from: http://www.noodletools.com/debbie/literacies/information/1over/infolit1.html
Eisenberg, M.B.(2008) Information Literacy: Essential Skills for the Information Age. Journal of Library & Information Technology, 28(2), pp.39-47.
NSW DET (2007) The Information Process. Retrieved from: http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/schoollibraries/index.htm
Stanford University (2013) Definition of Information Literacy. Retrieved from: http://skil.stanford.edu/intro/research.html