Present an argument for or against this statement, drawing upon the research and professional literature to support your views.
Information literacy is more than a set of skills. It is both a set of skills and a process that is contextualised.
There has been a lot of debate about exactly what constitutes information literacy. Whilst it is recognised as important that information literacy be included in the school curriculum, there are many varied definitions and little consensus as to what these definitions are (Herring, 2013). Just how important is it to define information literacy? Williams (2001 cited in Herring, 2013) thinks that all this debate about what constitutes information literacy is irrelevant to the practise of it.
Is information literacy even the correct term to be using in this day and age of digital technologies? There is debate even over the definition and relevance of alternative terminology. Kapitzke 2003 (cited in Herring, 2013), uses the term hyperliteracy. Digital literacy, multiliteracy and transliteracy are other terms being bandied about.
I tend to agree with Williams in that the raging debate in the literature about the terminology is confusing and to some degree pointless in terms of students, teachers, teacher librarians and schools. As a teacher and an aspiring teacher librarian, at the coal face, as it were, this debate is not helpful. It is being able to assist students in attaining information literacy and how to assist them to do so which is of prime importance. Research suggests that school students are not being taught information literacy (CIC, 2012) and the almost limitless available information or ‘infoglut’ (McKenzie, 1999) is making it increasingly difficult for students to find “relevant and accurate answers” (Head, 2013, p. 476).
Information literacy models such as the Big 6, the PLUS model, Seven Pillars, McKenzie’s Research Cycle, and Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (ISP) outline a process for the information seeker to follow. This is indicative of information literacy as a process.
Internationally, information literacy has been identified as a set of skills that is required for lifelong learning. This is evident in the Prague declaration of 2003, the Alexandria proclamation of 2005, the definition given by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals and other similar bodies (Information Literacy website, 2013).
I like to think of information literacy as both a set of skills and as a process, as posited by Abilock (2007). Indeed, Big 6 developer, Eisenberg (2009) argues that information literacy skills sit within a logical process. Bruce (2003) and Sundin (2008), note that the way in which information literacy is experienced is contextual. I feel that context is a particularly important aspect of information literacy. Without context, the information seeker is lost. Without context, information literacy models are too generic and therefore do not help the information seeker.
Abilock, D. (2007). Information literacy: building blocks of research: overview. Retrieved from http://www.noodletools.com/debbie/literacies/information/1over/infolit1.html
Bruce, (2003). Seven Faces of Information Literacy: Towards inviting students into new experiences. Retrieved from http://www.bestlibrary.org/digital/files/bruce.pdf
Cable in the Classroom (CIC). (2012). Tmi: Reflections on information literacy. Retrieved from http://www.ciconline.org/blog/posts/tmi-reflections-on-information-literacy/
Eisenberg, M. (Executive Producer). (2009, June).
Information Literacy: The most basic of basics. [Webcast]. Retrieved from http://uweoconnect.extn.washington.edu/publicmbeinfolit/
Head, A. (2013). 472 project information literacy: what can be learned about the information-seeking behavior of today’s college students?. ACRL. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/conferences/confsandpreconfs/2013/pape…
Herring, J. E. (2013). A Critical Investigation of Students’ and Teachers’ Views of the Use of Information Literacy Skills in School Assignments. American Association of School Librarians (AASL). Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/aasl/aaslpubsandjournals/slmrb/slmrcontents/volume9/informationliteracy.
McKenzie, J. (1999). The research cycle. From Now On The Educational Technology Journal, 9(4). Retrieved from http://www.fno.org/dec99/rcycle.html