IFLA Media and Information Literacy Recommendations

Great statement from IFLA about the importance of media and information literary followed by some recommendations.

IFLA Media and Information Literacy Recommendations:

In order to survive and develop, make decisions, and solve problems in every facet of life – personal, social, educational, and professional, individuals, communities, and nations need information about themselves as well as their physical and their social environments. This information is available via three processes: observation and experimentation, conversation (with other persons), and consultation (with memory institutions). The competence to do this effectively and efficiently is called Media and Information Literacy.

Media and Information Literacy consists of the knowledge, the attitudes, and the sum of the skills needed to know when and what information is needed; where and how to obtain that information; how to evaluate it critically and organise it once it is found; and how to use it in an ethical way. The concept extends beyond communication and information technologies to encompass learning, critical thinking, and interpretative skills across and beyond professional and educational boundaries. Media and Information Literacy includes all types of information resources: oral, print, and digital.

Media and Information Literacy is a basic human right in an increasingly digital, interdependent, and global world, and promotes greater social inclusion. It can bridge the gap between the information rich and the information poor. Media and Information Literacy empowers and endows individuals with knowledge of the functions of the media and information systems and the conditions under which these functions are performed. Media and Information Literacy is closely related to Lifelong Learning. Lifelong Learning enables individuals, communities, and nations to attain their goals and to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the evolving global environment for the shared benefit of all individuals, not just a few. It assists them and their institutions and organisations to meet their technological, economic, and social challenges, to redress disadvantages, and to advance every individual’s well-being.

Under the umbrella of the developing information/knowledge society at all levels – local, regional, national, and international, we urge governments and intergovernmental organizations as well as private institutions and organisations to pursue policies and programs that advocate for and promote Media and Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning for all. In so doing, they will provide the vital foundation for fulfilling the goals of the United Nations Millennium Declaration and the World Summit on the Information Society.

In particular, IFLA recommends that governments and organisations to do the following:

  • Commission research on the state of Media and Information Literacy and produce reports, using the Media and Information Literacy indicators as a base, so that experts, educators, and practitioners are able to design effective initiatives;
  • Support professional development for education, library, information, archive, and health and human services personnel in the principles and practices of Media and Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning;
  • Embed Media and Information Literacy education in all Lifelong Learning curricula;
  • Recognise Media and Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning as key elements for the development of generic capabilities which must be demonstrated for accreditation of all education and training programs;
  • Include Media and Information Literacy in the core and continuing education of information professionals, educators, economic and government policymakers and administrators, as well as in the practice of advisors to the business, industry and agriculture sectors;
  • Implement Media and Information Literacy programs to increase the employability and entrepreneurial capacities of women and disadvantaged groups, including migrants, the underemployed and the unemployed; and,
  • Support thematic meetings which will facilitate the acquisition of Media and Information and Lifelong Learning strategies within specific regions, sectors, and population groups.

Endorsed by the Governing Board of IFLA, at its meeting in Den Haag, The Netherlands, 7 December 2011

“Multiple literacies”? Who really talks like that? (Survey)

You may recall that last February we highlighted a great article by Trudi Jacobson and Thomas Mackey introducing  ‘metaliteracy’ as a framework for understanding information literacy. The number of alternative “literacies” has seemed to explode over the past few years, and the article does a great job of reining competing literacies in and organizing them under a more manageable conceptual framework.  But, certain questions remain. In particular, how are terms like ‘metaliteracy, ‘transliteracy’, ‘information literacy’, and other literacies understood in the library profession? Well, to find the answer, Jacobson and Mackey have come up with a survey to find out how “librarians and faculty members worldwide who teach information literacy in some form conceive of information literacy” in light of the explosion of alternative literacies.

I’ll let Jacobson explain, from a message circulating on various listservs:

If you teach information literacy at an academic institution (in any format, such as a stand-alone course, a component of another course, or single sessions), I welcome your participation in a survey. The online survey is available at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/metaliteracy

The purpose of the survey is to learn more about the impact of the changing information environment and social media on the teaching of information literacy. This research follows up on my work with Dr. Thomas Mackey in connection with our article, “Reframing Information Literacy as a Metaliteracy,” which appeared in the January 2011 issue of College & Research Libraries. Data gathered via this survey will contribute to a book we are currently writing on the same topic, which will be published by Neal-Schuman in 2012.

Your feedback will be most helpful in getting a sense of changes that may be occurring as a result of the evolving information environment and emerging literacy frameworks. Learning what others are doing, through the information that will be presented in the book and through other venues, may be beneficial in considering your own teaching.

So, if you’re interested in transliteracy, metaliteracy, information literacy, or some other putative literacy (hyperliteracy, anyone?), please chime in on the metaliteracy survey. The more data they collect, the better will be the picture of multiple literacies in librarianship. Once again, the survey is available at:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/metaliteracy

As a bit of a bonus, Trudi Jacobson was kind enough to send me a selected reading list. Go ahead and check it out if you’re interested in the concept of metaliteracy (or of transliteracy).

Suggested Reading (thanks to Trudi Jacobson)

  • Bobish, Greg.  2011. “Participation and Pedagogy: Connecting the Social Web to ACRL Learning Outcomes.”  The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 37, no 1: 5463.
  • Breivik, Particia Senn and E. Gordon Gee.  1989.  “Taking a New Look at Libraries,” In Information Literacy: Revolution in the Library, 1-29.  New York: Macmillan.
  • Dunaway, Michele Kathleen. 2011.  “Connectivism: Learning Theory and Pedagogical Practice  for Networked Information Landscapes.”  Reference Services Review 39, no. 4: 675-685.
  • Ipri, Tom. 2010. “Introducing Transliteracy: What Does It Mean To Academic Libraries?” College and Research Libraries News 71, no. 10: 532-567.  http://crln.acrl.org/content/71/10/532.full.pdf+html
  • Mackey, Thomas P. and Trudi E. Jacobson. 2011. “Reframing Information Literacy as a  Metaliteracy.” College and Research Libraries 72, no. 1: 62-78. http://crl.acrl.org/content/72/1/62.abstract 
  • Siemens, George.  2004.  “Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age.” Elearnspace: everything elearning. http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm
  • Society of College, National and University Libraries. 2011. “The SCONUL Seven Pillars of Information Literacy, Core Model for Higher Education.” Society of College, National and University Libraries. http://www.sconul.ac.uk/groups/information_literacy/publications/coremodel.pdf
  • Thomas, Sue, Chris Joseph, Jess Laccetti, Bruce Mason, Simon Mills, Simon Perril, et al.  2007.    “Transliteracy: Crossing Divides.” First Monday [Online], 12 no. 12.                       http://www.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2060/1908

A reasonable objection to transliteracy

'Disagreement' by cabbit, on Flickr

A legitimate criticism

‘Transliteracy.’ Is it a bold new concept or the current enfant terrible of librarianship? It’s no secret that transliteracy has a polarizing effect, with the past year’s worth of commentary ranging from uncritical acceptance to critical analysis to dogmatic skepticism, and everywhere between. Obviously, this blog leans towards a more positive approach to transliteracy, But, what of the objections to the concept? Are there substantive concerns that we should be addressing, or is it all just snark?

Given the novelty of the term, the enthusiasm of early-adopters, and the “almost-but-not-quite” similarity of transliteracy to other “literacies”, it’s only natural for librarians to be skeptical. Unfortunately, this skepticism frequently manifests itself as snarky comments on Twitter, false analogies with Library 2.0, or obsessively pedantic linguistic prescriptivism. Some critics hammer away at style rather than substance. Others object to any nontraditional uses of the word “literacy” or the prefix “trans-”. Yet others lament that librarians would be interested in a concept that doesn’t come pre-packaged with a precise, committee-approved definition and bulleted-list of standards, objectives, and outcomes. And, my personal favorite, the red herring that we’re just confusing our patrons. These are all common objections to transliteracy, but they don’t amount to much more than impassioned rhetoric.  (Of course, there’s also a lot of empty rhetoric in support of transliteracy, but that’s a topic I’ll save for another post).

However, there is at least one really good objection to transliteracy as it is currently being applied by libraries, namely, that the concept of transliteracy is redundant…it’s already covered under existing information literacy standards. As Meredith Farkas wrote several months ago,

“The way librarians and other instructors teach information literacy instruction has grown and changed in response to the changing information ecosystem…And while there are librarians who don’t change the way they teach, that’s just being a bad instructor. It has nothing to do with information literacy instruction somehow being insufficient.” (12/21/2010)

So, existing information literacy standards already have mechanisms in place to cover transliteracy. Moreover, any real or perceived failures to meet the stated goals of transliteracy (communicating across media, reading and writing across platforms, etc.) are failures on the part of lazy librarians who resist change, not on information literacy. So, why do we need some new, faddish term when we already cover the same concepts under information literacy? I think this is a fair criticism, though I’m not convinced that information literacy already covers transliteracy. So, here goes an attempt at addressing this legitimate criticism of transliteracy. I have two responses…

Read the rest of this entry »

Transliteracy as pedagogy (LOEX 2011)

Image courtesy of longhorndave on Flickr (CC BY-2.0)

I’d like to thank the organizers of LOEX 2011 for a great conference in Fort Worth this past week-end; my head is still swimming with great ideas for tweaking our instruction program. I would also like to thank the attendees, who provided overwhelmingly positive feedback on my presentation, “Bridging the Gaps: Transliteracy as Informed Pedagogy”.

In a nutshell, my presentation was an examination of what the concept of transliteracy has to offer library instruction. Specifically, what does the ability to read, write, and interact across a range of platforms, tools, and media mean for library curriculum design? Moreover, doesn’t information literacy already cover everything relevant to library instruction? This last question is unfortunately common, so I’ll answer it first…

No. Information literacy is primarily an evaluative concept that only barely touches on the operational skills needed for effectively navigating the web. Though ACRL Standard Two comes close to covering information media (“The information literate student accesses needed information effectively and efficiently”), the desired outcomes involve the sort of linear, syntax-driven search behaviors that librarians love, while ignoring the more discovery-based, refinement-driven search behaviors students learn outside of our databases (cf. Holman 2011). As I’ve argued elsewhere, transliteracy is tied to the descriptive, medium-specific, literal “literacies” that are distinct from the evaluative literacies covered by information literacy (See Slide 27). This is pretty much just a rehashing of the original Transliteracies Project research and subsequent PART discussions, but it is important because it shows that transliteracy is not a replacement for information literacy, it is a complement to information literacy and the two are conceptually and logically distinct. So, library instructors out there, put down your pitchforks! Transliteracy is not a replacement for information literacy, it is just an incredibly useful concept to add to your instructional toolbox.

So, anyway, here are the slides. If you don’t want to go through the whole presentation, the moral of the story can be found in three keys for library instruction that I think logically follow from the concept of transliteracy:

  1. Effective information use requires several information sources. (Slides 30-34)
  2. Information resources do not stand alone, they interact (Slides 35-39)
  3. Navigating this interaction requires transferable skills (Slides 40-50)
Putting them together, we find that transliteracy encourages instructors to take students’ pre-existing skills seriously and harness them for academic research, rather than try to replace them with something else.
Anyway, here are the slides. (Make sure you view it on Slideshare if you want to see the speaker notes.)

Ideas for Incorporating Transliteracy in the Classroom

from Horia Varlan on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

One of the frequent questions I’ve encountered from academic library instructors goes something like this: “Transliteracy sounds like an interesting concept, but how do I use it in my library instruction sessions?” It’s a very good question; how can transliteracy inform the typical one-shot library instruction class? I’ll be addressing this issue at LOEX in a few weeks, so I can’t give away the answer just yet. But, in the meantime, I’d like to point out a recent article that provides substantive, practical, and engaging classroom techniques founded in transliteracy.

The word ‘transliteracy’ does not appear anywhere within Greg Bobish’s recent contribution to the Journal of Academic Librarianship. His article, “Participation and Pedagogy: Connecting the Social Web to ACRL Learning Outcomes,” is directed at effective methods for incorporating social media into the traditional library instruction session. Importantly, he makes the case that “instruction designed to take advantage of [Web 2.0] tools’ capabilities on their own terms,  however, will prepare students to directly apply information literacy skills as these technologies are increasingly encountered in daily life” (p. 55). Put another way, incorporating social media into the library instruction curriculum can add a familiar, effective, and transferable skill-set for addressing the critical ACRL Information Literacy Standards. As Bobish concludes his article, social media and related technologies

present a golden opportunity, not generally available previously, for students to see the real world relevance of the skills that they learn through information literacy instruction and to learn how information is created and shared by doing it themselves rather than hearing about it. (p. 63)

Yet, though he does not directly address transliteracy, his approach is an excellent example of transliteracy in practice. Transliteracy is all about the ability to move across competing literacies, and one way to address this in instruction is to emphasize cross-platform (or “multimodal”) research skills. That is, we need to teach skills and concepts that are transferable between radically different media. So, rather than treat library instruction as a class on “library skills” we can address information literacy more broadly, divorced from any particular information source. Bobish’s article reinforces this need for transferable information literacy instruction, insofar as he provides great examples for classroom activities that engage the students on their own information turf (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), yet still teach the kinds of skills that are needed in academic research.

Best of all, Bobish suggests an activity for each and every performance indicator in the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards. For example, to meet the performance indicator I.1.e (the student identifies key-concepts and terms that describe the information need), we might have students run blog-posts, articles, or wiki-pages through Wordle to find the best keywords. To meet  performance indicator II.2.c (selects controlled vocabulary specific to the discipline or information retrieval source), we might use social bookmarking sites like Delicious or CiteULike as a parallel to subject headings. In total, there are 87 suggested activities for using social media to teach information literacy skills in the library classroom.

Of course, not all of the selected activities are going to work in your library instruction program. Many of them require a level of interaction that is difficult to achieve in the traditional one-shot library session. Several of them require some reworking to address possible FERPA concerns. Others can be met using different social media. But, at the very least, the ideas presented can be helpful if you are trying to figure out new and engaging ways to address information literacy competencies that transfer across multiple literacies. As an earlier review on Ink and Vellum sums it up, Bobish’s article “takes a step beyond simply using Web 2.0 for its entertainment value (or just because we can) and asks students to question the platforms they use daily to communicate information, both personal and professional.” In other words: it’s one way to answer how we can teach transliteracy in the classroom.

Recommended Reading: Bobish, Greg. “Participation and Pedagogy: Connecting the Social Web to ACRL Learning Outcomes.” Journal of Academic Librarianship, 37, no. 1 (2011): 54-63.

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