Information Literacy

This week we’d like you to: first give us your best guess on the percentage of adults working in the United States in the 20th Century who needed to have a range of skills represented by information literacy in order to do their jobs successfully, then give the percentage of adults working in the United States in the 21st Century. Now, think back to the definitions of educational technology and the four ages of educational technology that you read about and discussed in the first two weeks of class. The definitions changed and nature of teaching with technology changed as technology itself changed. Explain some of those changes–in educational technology and in teaching with technology. Is there any connection between educational technology and information literacy? Do you think it’s OK for teachers to teach without using technology more than a decade into the 21st Century?


The Twentieth Century (January 1, 1901-December 31, 2000) was an Era of hard felt technological transformation. During that time many of us, especially our parents, witnessed tremendous change. These consisted of going from classroom slide tape presentations, overhead projectors to 16 mm movies to tape recorders to DVDs, wireless laptop computers, smart phones, ipods, ipads and now there is new tech features that make the pages move so fast that we forget what we were looking for. Well, with all that said, I will give my first WAG to be 30 percent.

On the other hand, the 21st Century is moving with leaps and bounds, so I believe it will require 80 percent technology literacy involvement to be successful. There will always be the need for manual laborers that do not require information literacy skills; however, even those jobs began with technology involvement an example is the building of highways. As our students move through early school years to their undergraduate years and graduate programs, they need to have repeated opportunities for seeking, evaluating, and managing information gathered from multiple sources and discipline-specific research methods.

In 2004, the American Association for Higher Education endorsed the Information Literacy Competency Standards. These Standards are defined: an individual’s ability to know when there is a need for information, to be able to identify, locate, synthesize, evaluate, and effectively use that information for the issue or problem at hand.  Information Literacy 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.

Information literacy can no longer be defined without considering technology literacy which is necessary for individuals to function in an information-rich, technology-infused world. Gaining skills in information literacy multiplies the opportunities for students’ self-directed learning, as they become engaged in using a wide variety of information sources to expand their knowledge. Achieving competency in information literacy requires an understanding that this cluster of abilities is not extraneous to the curriculum but is woven into the curriculum’s content, structure, and sequence. This curricular integration also affords many possibilities for furthering the influence and impact of such student-centered teaching methods as problem-based learning, evidence-based learning, and inquiry learning. Guided by faculty and others in problem-based approaches, students reason about course content at a deeper level than is possible through the exclusive use of lectures and textbooks. To take fullest advantage of problem-based learning, students must often use thinking skills requiring them to become skilled users of information sources in many locations and formats, thereby increasing their responsibility for their own learning.

The National Higher Education Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Initiative has developed a definition of literacy for the 21st century which combines cognitive and technical skills with an ethical/legal understanding of information. ICT proficiency is the ability to use digital technology, communication tools, and/or networks to define an information need, access, manage, integrate and evaluate information, create new information or knowledge and are able to communicate this information to others. You will neither become information literate nor communication technology literate overnight. Just as with speaking skills and writing skills, your abilities will improve over time as you gain expertise in the topics you choose to investigate. This process will give you practice in searching for, selecting and evaluating the information you encounter and will allow you to create new ideas, which you communicate to others using a variety of technological tools.

As we move further into the 21st century, we are convinced that information literacy will become the standard-bearer for academic achievement, workforce productivity, competitive advantage, and national security. It is the foundation for effective, lifelong learning practice, personal, and professional empowerment. Information Literacy is a compilation of media literacy (visual and computer), research and library skills, critical literacy (reading and thinking), and informational ethics (copyright, security and privacy). An example is “Media literacy” and it represents a necessary, inevitable, and realistic response to the complex, ever-changing electronic environment and communication cornucopia that surround us. It is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and communicate information in a variety of forms and is interdisciplinary by nature.

Courses structured in such a way create student-centered learning environments where inquiry is the norm, problem solving becomes the focus, and thinking critically is part of the process. Such learning environments require information literacy competencies. As a future educator, I strongly believe that information literacy is an important aspect of learning. I would like to mention the importance of the CRAAP test that should be followed when working with students and their understanding of information literacy especially with research.



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