Obstacles to Information Literacy

Where do I begin with this one?  Obstacles that spring to mind (from past and very real experiences) are:

  • Unclear definition of Information Literacy (what exactly is it?) Does it mean the same for everyone – TLs, school executive, teachers, students?
  • How do you ‘teach’ Information Literacy?  People have many different views around this.
  • Most schools do not have a whole-school policy that includes Information Literacy
  • Schools mostly focus on skills for the student, within a subject, whilst at school.  ie. the ‘end product’ of an assessment task.  Schools don’t cater for IL to be ‘transferred’ beyond school in whatever the person does in the future.  This is what I call ‘lifelong learning’!
  • Subject teachers operate within their own department, believing that their students will gain the IL skills required to complete the outcomes within that subject.  It is assumed that other teachers are also reinforcing IL skills in their subjects.  Some teachers are ‘insulted’ when the TL suggests a focus on particular skills within their subject area. Perhaps they see it as a threat to their expertise within their subject area.
  • Some teachers believe IL skills should be taught by the English department and the TL – this is their job.  Others believe that because children of today have grown up with technology, that they are ‘experts’ in finding information.
  • School executives see the concept of IL as too ‘broad’, so therefore it is hard to pinpoint what is required across to introduce IL across the school curriculum and who in fact should teach it.
  • There is no ‘mandated’ document that states that IL MUST be taught explicitly across the school curriculum.  This means that it is easily ‘ignored’ for more pressing and mandatory requirements of the curriculum.
  • In many schools, there is no set IL model established that the whole school is encouraged to use.  Therefore, if teachers are teaching IL their way, it may be inconsistent and unclear to the students we ae trying to make Information Literate.
  • There is definitely a lack of collaboration around teaching IL between teachers, school executive and TLs.  Lack of time to plan, lack of flexible timetabling, too much subject content to cover so assessments are given as homework, dis-interest in having to teach IL at all, let alone with the TL.
  • Mixed ability and larger class sizes make teaching IL more difficult, with many students left to their own devices with information research.
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