Following on from yesterday. My head is in an epistemological, ontological, pedagogical three way over information literacy right now. There, I've used all my big words, now I can get down to business (or try to make some sense anyway).
The traditional notion of the library and librarian are changing (when are they not).
Libraries are no longer the gate-keepers of information and knowledge they once were. With easy access to an explosion of information online, today's learner can find almost anything without the mediation of a library. Despite this change, libraries have evolved since the spread of web 2.0 into an important part of the new information seeking ecosystem. Rather than become redundant repositories of the old way, libraries have become vibrant social spaces.
Learners now have access to more information than ever in a multitude of media. However, with great freedom comes great responsibility and that's where librarians come in. The stereotype of the scary pearl and twinset wearing librarian is slowly dissapearing as learners begin to consider us a partner in their everyday life information seeking. We are on facebook, twitter, YouTube and other spaces they inhabit and when they can't find something in google we know how to help (among other things). We need to reexamine our role as mentor and focus our teaching on ways of thinking/seeing rather than technology to be mastered.
Web 2.0 and social media has led to a more social and collaborative approach to information seeking and this is where we should look to reinvent our framing of information literacy (IL). Traditionally IL has been described as a set of skills or competencies that we can teach individuals regardless of context. However, we must consider information seeking as a social process based on the context of learners. By this I mean the socio-cultural time and space within which learning occurs. Too often the tools are the focus of IL training when it should be on the symbiotic relationship between technology and changing social practices. By situating learning in context, we allow learners to construct and attach meaning to new skills rather than seeing them as apart from their everyday life information seeking.
Web 2.0 has created a blurring of work/play in everyday life as new technologies enable collaboration and sharing like never before. Social learning and collaborative construction of meaning in context is the crux of a 21stC model of information literacy. With my postmodernist hat on, 'there is no truth, all meaning is socially constructed'. This theory brings to mind the creative commons movement and how critical it was in developing the 'share and reuse' revolution that has led to a more open web. This open, sharing and collaborative online environment allowed a new way of finding, reusing, sharing and creating information which is available via multiple pathways in a multitude of media and user-created content. Learners are now active content-creators and we must take up the challenge ourselves and collaborate in creating shared meanings. All this creativity has led to a push for more fun and games in the library which should of course be integral to any 21stC model of information literacy.
To sum up, I've been thinking about how information literacy came to be and where it's at now. Since developing out of a print paradigm (sorry another big word) IL has failed to naturally adapt, as it should have in response to constantly evolving technologies within a wide range of socio-cultural contexts. I believe we have an opportunity to revitalise IL by taking a more social approach to the way we consider learning, and situating it in socio-cultural context, rather than as a set of competencies or skills/tools that need to be mastered.
Hope that wasn't too out there...
I'm now reading it back and wondering what the hell I'm going on about...
Interested in: developing digital literacy, mobile literacy, game-based, learning, emerging trends in communications and technology, developing innovative services, 21stC information literacy, augmented reality, QR codes, mobile learning, The Cloud and so much more.
This blog contains the personal opinions of the author, which do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or any other organisation with which she is associated.