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Information literacy: a catalyst for educational change. Keynote speech delivered at the Seminar on Information Literacy, Consortium of National University Libraries (CONUL), 2 February 2006, Dublin, Ireland

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  1. 1. Information Literacy, a catalyst for educational change Susie Andretta Senior Lecturer in Information Management London Metropolitan University
  2. 2. Information literacy: a definition To be information literate, a person must be able to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information. [... ] Ultimately, information literate people are those who have learned how to learn. They know how to learn because they know how knowledge is organized, how to find information, and how to use information in such a way that others can learn from them. (ALA, 1989)
  3. 3. Overview of information literacy CONUL Report: Our ability to think and to select and use the information at our disposal will be the critical determinant of future success of the Information Society in Ireland (CONUL, 2004: 1) Catalyst for educational change - addressing the challenges (Candy, 2002; Bruce, 2002; Lupton, 2004) Empowering the learner and the educator (Bundy, 2004; Andretta, 2005a; Information literacy: challenges of implementation, Italics, 5(1), January 2006)
  4. 4. HE challenges Lifelong learning requirements (OECD, 1996) The knowledge-based economy is characterised by the need for continuous learning of both codified information and the competencies to use this information. […] Capabilities for selecting relevant information, recognising patterns in information, interpreting and decoding information as well as learning new and forgetting old skills are in increasing demand. (O’Sullivan, 2002: 8)
  5. 5. HE challenges The creation of a learning culture which produces graduates with a capacity and desire for lifelong learning in a rapidly changing, complex, and information abundant environment, requires a major shift in the educational paradigm. (Bundy, 2001) From prescribed reading to the excitement or the burden of choice. (Leon, 2004)
  6. 6. HE Challenges ICT-driven learning and teaching strategies: e-learning (DfES, 2003) • The creation of a professional workforce and fulfilled citizens through the mastery of self-directed lifelong learning practices. • The development of innovative provision geared to address the needs of a global knowledge society and the offering of a more flexible education system that responds to the needs of learners irrespective of their location.
  7. 7. HEIs challenges Content and Competency Pedagogical Frames (Bruce et al) Culture of prescribed knowledge-acquisition  Preferred by HEIs - indicators of students’ retention, progression and achievement  Preferred by faculty staff - the sage on the stage approach (Doherty, 1999)  Preferred by students - “what do I do now?” syndrome (Andretta and Cutting, 2003) [Learning is] a qualitative change in a person’s way of seeing, experiencing, understanding, conceptualising something in the real world - rather than a change in the amount of knowledge which someone possesses.(Bruce, 1997: 60)
  8. 8. HEIs challenges Diverse student population and learning needs  Low information literacy skills and dependent attitude (Stern, 2003; Andretta and Cutting, 2003) Problems of plagiarism (Brine and Stubbings, 2003) General lack of engagement beyond the assessment- driven approach - low motivation (Andretta 2005a). Need to adopt a more flexible approach to learning and a more dynamic/critical investigation of the disciplines (Bruce et al; Whitworth)
  9. 9. Information literacy in Ireland Report of the CONUL Working Group on Information Skills Training 1. Arrive at shared terminology, assumptions, expectations and best practice (4.1: 8) 2. Promote a common Information Literacy framework (IST initiatives: 11) 3. Develop a policy of implementation (capitalise on current information literacy practices)
  10. 10. Exploring the terminology How would you describe you view of learning, teaching and information literacy? (extract from Bruce et al) 1. In my view learning is 2. In my view teaching is 3. I see information literacy as 4. My colleagues see information literacy as 5. Our students see information literacy as Handouts collected for analysis. Feedback after this event.
  11. 11. Information literacy as a catalyst Empowering the learner by fostering an independent learning attitude  Taking responsibility for own learning (Andretta, 2005a)  Experiencing variation in learning (Bruce et al; Lantz et al; Stubbings et al)  Developing motivation through relevance to subject and personal requirements (Lantz et al; Hepworth et al)  Developing own voice, advocacy (Williams; Stubbings et al)  Developing active citizenship (Whitworth; Lantz et al)
  12. 12. Information literacy as a catalyst Empowering the librarian by claiming the facilitator’s role […] a librarian should be more than a keeper of books; he should be an educator [….] All that is taught in college amounts to very little; but if we can send students out self-reliant in their investigations, we have accomplished very much. (Robinson, 1876: 129) Librarians as information literacy educators:  Resistance from faculty staff and students (Stubbings et al UK)  Institutional acceptance and integration of information literacy education in civic and health literacies programmes (Lantz et al, Sweden)  Opportunities for CPD and knowledge transfer (Hepworth et al, Tanzania)
  13. 13. Information literacy as a catalyst Clear strategy of collaboration between faculty, library and administrative staff to ensure flexible provision  Embedded approach (ACRL, 2000; Bundy, 2004)  Top-down & Bottom-up (Lantz et al, Stubbings et al) Learning and teaching institutional strategies Critical and reflective pedagogy (Lantz et al, Whitworth, Hepworth et al) Learning and teaching provision by staff Learning outcomes (Stubbings et al) Prevention of plagiarism (ibid.) PDP (ibid.) Real- world assessment (Lantz et al)
  14. 14. Information Literacy Education • Pedagogical framework suitable for lifelong learning • Emancipation of learners and staff • National and institutional competitiveness From prescribed reading to the excitement of choice.
  15. 15. References ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries) (2000) Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education: standards, performance indicators and outcomes, Chicago, ACRL. Available at: (Accessed: 9 November 2005). American Library Association (1989) ALA Presidential Committee on Information Literacy, ALA, Washington D.C., 10 January 1989. Available at: (Accessed: 7 March 2004). Andretta, S. (ed.) (2006) Information literacy: challenges of implementation, Italics, 5 (1), January 2006. [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 16 January 2006). Andretta, S. (2005a) Information literacy: empowering the learner “against all odds”, Paper presented at the LILAC Conference, 4 -6 April 2005, Imperial College, London. Andretta, S. (2005b) Information Literacy: a practitioner’s guide. Oxford: Chandos Publishing. Andretta, S. & Cutting, A. (2003) ‘Information Literacy: a plug and play approach’, Libri, 53(3): 202 – 209. Brine, A. & Stubbings, R. (2003) ‘Plagiarism and the role of the library’, Library & Information Update, 2(12): 42-44.
  16. 16. References Bruce C. (2002) Information Literacy as a Catalist for Educational Change A Background Paper, White Paper prepared for UNESCO, the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, and the National Forum on Information Literacy, for use at the Information Literacy, Meetings of Experts, Prague, The Czeck Republic, July 2002. Available at: (Accessed 7 April 2004). Bruce, C. (1997) The Seven Faces of Information Literacy, Auslib Press, Adelaide. Bundy, A. (2004a) Zeitgeist: Information literacy and educational change. Paper presented at the 4th Frankfurt Scientific Symposium, Germany, 4 October 2004. Bundy, A. (ed) (2004b), Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework. Principles, Standards and Practice, 2nd edition, Australian and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy (ANZIIL), Adelaide. Available at: (Accessed 7 April 2004). Bundy, A. (2001), Information Literacy: The Key Competency for the 21st Century, available at: (accessed 8 November 2001). Bundy A. (1999) Information Literacy: the 21st Century Educational Smartcard, Australian Academic & Research Libraries (AARL), 30 (4), December 1999: 233-250.
  17. 17. References Candy, P.C. (2002) Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning, White Paper prepared for UNESCO, the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, and the National Forum on Information Literacy, for use at the Information Literacy, Meetings of Experts, Prague, The Czeck Republic, July 2002. Available at: (Accessed 07/04/04). CONUL Working Group on Information Skills Training: Final Report, March 2004. Department for Employment and Skills (DfES) (2003), Towards a Unified e-learning Strategy. Available at: (Accessed 12 June 2004). Doherty, J.J., Hansen, M.A. and Kaya, K.K. (1999) Teaching information skills in the Information Age: the need for critical thinking, Library Philosophy and Practice, 1(2): 1-12. [Online]. Available at: (Accessed 12 June 2004). Leon, P. (2004) “Time to cut the cables?”, Times Higher Educational Supplement, 30 April, pp. 8-9 Lupton, M. (2004) The Learning Connection. Information Literacy and the student experience, Auslib Press, Adelaide. O’Sullivan, C. (2002) “Is information literacy relevant in the real world?”, New Library World, 30(1): 7-14.
  18. 18. References Office of Economic Co-operation and Development (1996) The Knowledge-Based Economy (OECD), Paris (OECD/GD (96) 102). Robinson, O.H. (1876) The Proceedings, American Library Journal, 1: 92-145. Stern, C. (2003) Measuring students’ information literacy competency, in Martin, A. & Rader, H. (eds.) Information and IT literacy enabling learning in the 21st century, London: Facet Publishing: 112-119.