Information Literacy – Essential Skills – Eisenberg

The minute  I started reading Eisenberg’s article, ‘Information Literacy:  Essential skills for the Information Age’, I immediately thought ‘this is it’, I agree with everything he is saying, these have been my thoughts/beliefs/dreams around Information Literacy for a number of years.  I will probably use Eisenberg’s definition of IL (Information Liteacy) as my ‘preferred’ one!

“Information literacy (IL) is the set of skills and knowledge that allows us to find, evaluate, and use the information we need, as well as filter out the information we don’t need.  IL skills are the necessary tools that help us successfully navigate the present and future landscape of information.” (EISENBERG, 2008, p.39)

Eisenberg discusses IL as evolving – from solely using the textbook in the classroom, through to the explosion of information available to everyone via the Internet.

He identifies 3 essential contexts for successful IL learning and teaching:

1)  Information Process itself
2)  Technology in context
3)  Real needs – either work, educational, or personal.

For me, these 3 aspects make up the whole concept of Information Literacy.  I believe a number of the writers on this subject and certainly many teachers and executives in schools attempt to focus on just one of these aspects and ignore considering the 3 of them as a whole.  They believe that by addressing one context, for example, technology, will improve IL skills and prepare students for the future.   How this technology is embedded, used and taught within the curriculum is what is important and IL skills cannot be ignored.

I recently gave my Assistant Principal an article about this (LEE, 2004).  The article suggested that the people employed to manage the technology within a school, become the ‘power-brokers’ of the technology and information.  Technology decisions are often being made by the IT team, without the educational pedagogies of the school in mind.  School executives don’t have the technical knowledge to question what is being done, teachers are desperate for help to incorporate technology within their teaching areas, IL is not even considered and the IT department maintain that their role is solely to keep the technology ‘running’ efficiently.
Lee,M. (2004).  The school ‘Chief Information Officer’-their centrality & importance. In K. Bonanno & J. Bales (eds.), Constructing communities of learning and literacy:  ASLA online conference 2004 proceedings (pp. 66-69). Zillmere, Qld:  ASLA Inc.

We MUST look at technology from an information skills perspective.  Collaboration between teachers, Teacher Librarians, school executive and students is the key to the success of IL within the school..


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