Paper given as part of a symposium at the Society for Research in Higher Education Conference - 9-11th December. The paper suggests that digital literacy is a problematic term - it ignores 40 years of work in information literacy.
Add background to IL and Zurkowski – 40 year history
This is our original graphic of how we perceived the field of IL and its relationships with other areas. Our representation situates information literacy as the central concept, overlapping with areas of specific information application (new learning literacies), practices involving a specific type of information (digital literacies), and information in use in a particular context or community (academic and media literacies). The graphic was designed to show that we perceive information literacy as interwoven with all these areas – but it also suggests visually that information literacy is a grand narrative: the overarching, ‘master’ concept that relates and makes meaningful all the others.
However, we soon began to see an equal degree of complexity in other areas, in particular recognising the strength of the claim that learning development constitutes a legitimate, epistemologically autonomous, and empirically grounded field of inquiry. In other words, learning development could equally validly claim to occupy the central, relational role in our diagram, as a lens through which to see and connect the other areas – including digital and information literacies. And equally, what Jane and I refer to as ‘information literacy’ is now often seen as being subsumed within the larger concept of ‘digital literacy’, which then becomes the grand narrative.
In all these professional areas in the last decade or so we have been moving away from a functional, remedial, simplistic enforced or normalised label-hanging approach. Because of the way our thinking in all these areas has developed, maybe we’ve reached a point where although we’re coming from different specialties and start points, we’re all converging on the same goal: to provide opportunities for our students to construct and sensemake the academic landscape for themselves.
The way in which UCC is approaching this landscape, with a convergence between academic writing, research skills and digital literacies, echoes how our own thinking around ANCIL has developed as well as how we are implementing this thinking in our institutions. We’re excited by your approach!
In the same way as our thinking about learning development has moved on from study skills – Wingate - so information literacy was once distressingly functional, process-based and the province – and the ‘gift’ - of librarians (we decided who got to be qualified as “information literate”). Now, however, it’s starting to be seen as a crucial ingredient in learning and in the development of an individual’s identity as a learner, a graduate, an employee and an informed citizen. Zurkowski ECIL keynote 2013 (Istanbul) – IL is about empowering the general population, making it harder for those in authority to fool people. A revolutionary tool. Information can be dangerous, so if IL is not challenging, we are doing it wrong!
ANCIL is divided into ten strands which together encompass not only key skills but also higher-order critical and intellectual thinking abilities. These strands offer a useful way of investigating existing IL provision within an institution. Each strand has learning outcomes, sample activities and sample assessment. 4 learning bands from key skills through application of those skills within the subject context; advanced information practices like synthesis, argument structuring and problem-framing, and reflective understanding of how our information practices affect our identity in academic, socially and in the workplace It is LEARNER centred – not a competency framework with externally assigned tickbox skills expressed in universal, monolithic language!
What is actually is, despite the name (“curriculum” – assigned to us by the academic lead) is not 10 classes or training sessions but rather a way of thinking holistically across all the ingredients needed to use the appropriate information in the most persuasive way in any academic context (and beyond). So this also gives us a way to audit the insitution’s offering across all these strands. Who’s doing what, and how? Are there gaps? Overlaps? Contradictions? Is the student getting a seamless experience from all the providers involved in helping them to construct and sensemaking their learning?
In the higher education context, information literacy is developed over the whole course of the study career, so there must be an ongoing, modular ‘chunked’ approach.
PART OF WHAT HAS GIVEN ANCIL ITS LONGEVITY?
We looked hard at whether we needed to include ‘digitalness’ or technology as a discrete strand in our curriculum, but ultimately we figured we were looking at it the wrong way up and that ‘digitalness’ is a bit of a red herring.
Our view is that information literacy refers to all forms of information, including analogue, digital, visual and and anything else as a part of a broad landscape of information. What matters is not the platform or the format, but the context, and the uses to which students are expected to put various types of information at each stage of the scholarly career. Our research doesn't split off digital or other literacies into a separate conceptual container - the focus is rather on developing students' abilities, attitudes and values across all aspects of information use and handling so that they are equipped to deal with information judiciously, no matter what format they encounter it in – and no matter when.
In the research I did back in 2011 with Emma Coonan – here are the first few strands
Transition is not just the first few weeks at university – it can happen when a student gets their first bit of feedback, when they first write a dissertation
Following our findings being endorsed at the Teaching, Learning and Assessment committee we spent some time devising an appropriate IL framework Purpose to inform academics of info & digital literacy skills with examples Enable mapping of existing provision Tool can be used by teaching librarians and learning technologists when planning Informed by work of other institutions 8 competencies
First up – let’s dispell a few myths – digital natives do not exist – fact
Some students may be tech savvy – some are not –
Students may use Facebook, students are not experts in their discipline and scholarly practices
The Trouble with Terminology: rehabilitating and rethinking digital literacy
The trouble with terminology:
rehabilitating and rethinking
Dr Jane Secker
London School of Economics and
SRHE Conference: 10th December 2015
The trouble with terminology…
Image: ‘Path path path’ by Hockadilly, CC BY-NC 2.0
What is information literacy?
Information literacy empowers people in all
walks of life to seek, evaluate, use and create
information effectively to achieve their
personal, social, occupational and educational
goals. It is a basic human right in a digital world
and promotes social inclusion in all nations.
UNESCO (2005) Alexandria Proclamation
Information Literacy and other
Secker and Coonan, 2011
IL as a threshold concept
ACRL Framework for Information
Literacy for Higher Education (2015)
Authority Is Constructed and
Information Creation as a Process
Information Has Value
Research as Inquiry
Scholarship as Conversation
Searching as Strategic Exploration
A New Curriculum for Information Literacy
Secker and Coonan (2013)
Is technology a red herring?
Information literacy ...
… supports transition
Higher education is “not just more education, but different”. Students coming from
school are not sure what learning is - it’s always been managed for them.
… develops independent learners
It involves students being able to articulate the expectations of a new information
context, and also being able to reflect on their own learning. Part of the process of
becoming an independent learner also involves helping a student understand more about
the process of learning.
… includes the social dimension of information
As a profession, we need to think about what students need to know and be able to apply
in the information environment. Our commitment should be to life-long learning rather
than the longer life of our library resources.
(ANCIL Expert Consultation Report, 2011)
Secker and Coonan, 2011
But too easily can be outside the
Image by Miki Yoshihito: SAKURAKO looks in the window.
Licensed under CC-BY 2.0
Technology and information are not
“Broader literacy practices are not going to
emerge spontaneously as a result of
Hinrichsen and Coombs (2013)
Teaching outside the curriculum risks
alienating academic staff
Who’s responsibility is it anyway?
Developing an LSE Framework
Developed in 2013
Covers digital and
Based on ANCIL and other
Provide examples and used
to review existing provision
Can be used to plan
But needs to avoid being
Image cc from http://www.flickr.com/photos/markhillary/302630220/in/set-72157594327649691 /
Photo by Flickingerbrad licensed under Creative Commons Photo by starmanseries licensed under Creative Commons
Closer working between
Aligning digital, academic
and information literacy
Joined up approach to
liaising with academic
CILIP (2013) Information Literacy Definition. Available at http://www.cilip.org.uk/cilip/advocacy-campaigns-
Godin, Seth (2011) The Future of the Library. Available at: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2011/05/the-
Hinrichsen, J and Coombs (2013). The five resources of critical digital literacy: a framework for curriculum integration.
Research in Learning Technology. 21: 21334. http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/rlt.v21.21334
Jacobson, Trudi E., and Thomas P. Mackey. (2013) “Proposing a Metaliteracy Model to Redefine Information Literacy.”
Communications in Information Literacy 7, no. 2: 84–91.
Mary R. Lea & Brian V. Street (1998) Student writing in higher education:
An academic literacies approach, Studies in Higher Education, 23:2, 157-172.
Meyer, Jan, and Land, Ray. (2003). Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge: Linkages to Ways of Thinking and
Practicing within the Disciplines. Edinburgh, UK: University of Edinburgh.
Secker, J and Coonan, E. (2013) Rethinking Information Literacy: a practical framework for supporting learning. Facet
UNESCO (2015) Media and Information Literacy. Available at: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-
Zurkowski, P (1974). The Information Service Environment: Relationships and Priorities. Related Paper No.5." National
Commission on Libraries and Information Science.