The world is changing...

Watch this video, created by Professor Mike Wesch of the University of Kansas:

What is information literacy?

All people in the 21st Century, no matter their education or training, need to be able to find and use information. This skill is known as information literacy. There are many, many definitions of information literacy; no two are the same. However, most fall into one of two categories; that is, either a formal theoretical definition like that of Bruce (1997), or a discussion of skills and abilities that information literate people have, like that of Bundy (2004) or the Australian Library and Information Association [ALIA] (2006) below. Information literacy is one of the “survival literacies” as described by Horton (2008):

The family of 21st Century “survival literacies” includes six categories: (1) the Basic or Core functional literacy fluencies (competencies) of reading, writing, oralcy and numeracy; (2) Computer Literacy; (3) Media Literacy; (4) Distance Education and E-Learning; (5) Cultural Literacy; and (6) Information Literacy. The boundaries between the various members of this family overlap, but they should be seen as a closely-knit family. (Horton 2008)

Bruce (1997) notes that “information literacy is usually described as the ability to locate, manage and use information effectively for a range of purposes.”

Information literacy can contribute to:
· learning for life;
· the creation of new knowledge;
· acquisition of skills;
· personal, vocational, corporate and organisational empowerment;
· social inclusion;
· participative citizenship; and
· innovation and enterprise.
Therefore, as a matter of priority, and at all levels, library and information services professionals embrace a responsibility to promote and facilitate the development of the information literacy of their clients. They will support government, and the corporate community, professional, educational and trade union sectors, and all Australians. (ALIA 2006)

Information literate people
· recognise a need for information
· determine the extent of information needed
· access information efficiently
· critically evaluate information and its sources
· classify, store, manipulate and redraft information collected or generated
· incorporate selected information into their knowledge base
· use information effectively to learn, create new knowledge, solve problems and make decisions
· understand economic, legal, social, political and cultural issues in the use of information
· access and use information ethically and legally
· use information and knowledge for participative citizenship and social responsibility
· experience information literacy as part of independent learning and lifelong learning
(Bundy [ed] 2004)


Consider the Training Package or Syllabus that you deliver against. Is information literacy named in it specifically as a skill that graduates of your program need to have, or are the knowledge and skills spread through the elements of criteria? Or, are they missing entirely? Why do you think this? Is this a good or bad thing?

In Australia and New Zealand, discussion of information literacy occurs in both education and library sectors. Much research about information literacy is undertaken by the Australian and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy. They have published a Framework which describes how information literacy can be supported and promoted in the education sector:

The Framework provides the principles, standards and practice that can support information literacy education in all education sectors. In these sectors, information literacy has been generally defined as an understanding and set of abilities enabling individuals to ‘recognise when information is needed and have the capacity to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information’.2 In a broader context, information literate people have been described as those who ‘know when they need information, and are then able to identify, locate, evaluate, organise, and effectively use the information to address and help resolve personal, job related, or broader social issues and problems’.3
(Bundy 2004)


In Mike Wesch’s video above, what assumptions is he making about the users of information (ie students) of today and tomorrow? How does that affect your thoughts about information and how you use it? Particularly in your teaching?

How does IL influence teaching?

Bruce, Edwards and Lupton (2006) have developed a framework for considering information literacy. They note that “People see teaching and learning differently”…this is a deceptively simple proposition, supported by much research, which has a profound effect on our daily engagement with teaching and learning in its many forms. (Marton and Booth, 1997; Bowden and Marton, 1998; Prosser and Trigwell, 1999; Ramsden, 2003). Remember, this also includes the students in class – and, each will have their own interpretations as well.

Variation in ways of seeing teaching and learning

How do you see teaching and learning?
In my/our view, teaching is:

In my/our view, learning is:

Students may see learning as:
An increase in knowledge
The acquisition of, procedures for use in practice
Understanding what something means
Interpreting the world to understand it
Changing as a person
(Saljo, 1979; Marton et al 1993)
Teachers may see learning as:
Acquiring knowledge
Absorbing knowledge and being able to explain and apply it
Developing thinking skills and the ability to reason
Developing beginning professional competence
Changing attitudes or behaviours
A participative pedagogical experience
(Bruce and Gerber 1995)

Teachers may see teaching as:
Presenting information
Transmitting information
(from teacher to student)
Illustrating application of theory to practice
Developing the capacity to be an expert
Supporting student learning
Encouraging active learning
Facilitating personal agency (control)
Bringing about a better society
(Dall’Alba 1991; Pratt 1998;
Samuelovicz and Bain 1992)

Figure 1 Bruce et al (2006)


So – how do you see teaching and learning? Do you think the ideas expressed by Bruce et al encompass all of the views of teaching and learning, or are their others? How do you think your students see them? What else do you think may influence a person’s understanding and experience of teaching and learning? How can you use this to improve the outcomes for your students?

Bruce et al also note that “People also see information literacy differently” As there are different ways of seeing learning and teaching, there are also different ways of seeing IL (Bruce, 1997; Limberg, 2000; Lupton 2004; Maybee, in press). Further, Barrie (2003) reports a clear relationship between ways in which university teachers see teaching and learning and their approaches to teaching graduate capabilities of which IL is one. We may infer from this that our ways of seeing IL, and ways of seeing teaching and learning are likely influences on our approaches to, and experiences of, IL education.

Variation in ways of seeing Information Literacy
How is information literacy seen in your context?

I/we see information literacy as:

My/our organisation sees information literacy as:

My/our colleagues see information literacy as:

My/our students see information literacy as:

Information professionals or scholars may see information literacy as:

Acquiring mental models of information systems
A set of skills
A combination of information and IT skills
Learning skills; A process;
A way of learning; The ability to learn
Ways on interacting with the world of information
Information behaviour
Part of the literacy continuum
(Bruce 1997)
University teachers see information literacy as:

Using IT for retrieval and communication
Finding information
Executing a process
Controlling information
Building up a knowledge base in a new area of interest
Working with knowledge to gain a new insight
Using information wisely for the benefit of others
(Bruce 1997)
Students see information use as:

Fact finding; finding the right answer
Finding information to form a personal viewpoint
Critically analysing information – trying to reveal values
Finding information located in information sources
Initiating a process
Building a personal knowledge base for various purposes
(Limberg, 2000; Maybee, in press)

Figure 2 Bruce, Edwards and Lupton (2006)


So – how do you see information literacy? Is it something that you believe that your students need? How might you include it in your delivery strategies and assessment?

But it changes all the time...

Technology and society moving forward will produce changes in the knowledge and skills that students will need as they embark on a new career, or try to mover their career onwards. How are you keeping pace with these changes, and incorporating them in your delivery and assessment, so that your students can demonstrate these skills to potential employers? Perhaps a look at the Digital Divide page might help you...


ALIA (2006) Statement on information literacy for all Australians. Canberra: Australian Library and Information Association. (accessed 29/03/2008)

Bruce, C. S. (1997) Seven Faces of Information Literacy in Higher Education. (accessed 15/04/2008)

Bruce, Edwards and Lupton (2006) Six Frames for Information literacy Education: a conceptual
framework for interpreting the relationships between theory and practice. Brisbane: Queensland University of Technology. Retrieved from QUT E-Prints 10/04/2008

Bundy, A. (ed) (2004) Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework principles, standards and practice, 2nd edition. Adelaide: Australian and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy.

Horton, F. W. (2008) Understanding information literacy: a primer. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Wesch, M. (2007) Information r/evolution. Retrieved 14/04/2008 from You Tube