A teacher librarian's learning journey

Inquiry and information literacy July 27, 2011

Filed under: ETL401 Teacher Librarianship — Jennifer Baccon @ 5:16 am

Somewhere amongst all the posts, one of my fellow students has started to think about digital citizens (the Millennials) and what it is they possess and need. How do we contribute to their development of information skills? How does this link to inquiry? And what exactly characterises inquiry and information skills? Her comments made these questions, amongst others, start spinning around my brain so I thought I’d try to tie down some of my thinking…

In Webinar 1 Lyn describes IL as “a moving target” and I think this is very apt! I used to think of it as simply a step by step set of processes as represented in the information process model – NSW Department of Ed. 2007. After some reading I now think I’m pretty settled on my view of what IL actually is (at the moment that is!) and, as I noted in my post “IL and the Curriculum Webinar” my thinking is with O’Connell in a broad view of the ability to “read” (extract meaning) from information in all it’s forms (including digital). “Reading” involves also critical literacy and the ability to skilfully manipulate and present information to others as well.

Building on this and returning to the video we viewed in sub-topic 1 of Topic 2,  I feel IL can be expressed as 21st century life-skills…the ability to select-evaluate-use information. Herring (2007), reporting on Doyle (1994), explains Doyle takes this definition of IL even further by including recognition of when information is needed and understanding how to learn as further aspects of literacy. Abilock (2004), again reported by Herring, also considers fulfilment of purpose as Doyle’s extended definition implies. Far out! That’s a lot to teach!

Herring (2007) makes the statement that “TLs…need to clarify their views  on IL…and decide whether it is a set of skills…a list of attributes…or a way of thinking about an individual’s learning.” I think I’m tending towards a set of attributes with such a broad definition. Having read quite a bit about EBP now I’m really enthused about this approach and am thinking I could look for evidence of these attributes as I would standards (see previous blog post). Fits too with the notion of students working towards obtaining a set of “fluencies” ( I know I’ve already collected some other documents that identify attributes of a 21st Century learner and I must take a look at Doyle’s identified attributes from way back in 1994 (“Information literacy in an information society: a concept for the information age”) too. Learning these days is all “why” and “how” as the “what” really becomes unreachable as a set of skills of some description.

Back to inquiry now…
In the Topic 3 webinar O’Connell discusses that inquiry is at the centre of the work of the TL and says that IL frameworks offer support in adding depth to the high level thinking processes implicit in inquiry. I’m familiar with American Big 6 model and the ILPO (Ryan and Capra 2001). I’ve started to look at Kuhlhau’s ISP (2004) as I’ve mentioned elsewhere and will take a look at Herring’s UK PLUS model…I really don’t know if I prefer one over the other…shall look into this another time…but my thinking at this point is that perhaps this is where we can cater for the individual in allowing them to apply what works for them as a learner. Whatever model it is, I can see how they do provide, as Wolf (2003) concludes, “mental modelling so necessary in helping the novice construct a method to meet the information use tasks placed before him or her.” (Again reported by Herring)


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