This continues my report from the meeting, held on 11th August in San Juan, Puerto Rico, about developing Media and Information Literacy indicators (the meeting was organised by IFLA and UNESCO).
Jesús Lau (Instituto de Ingeniería, Universidad Veracruzana, Veracruz, México) gave the main presentation before our small-group discussion about the UNESCO Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Indicators which are under development. Lau (who I am pleased to say got his doctorate in my own department, at Sheffield University) has led key information literacy initiatives with UNESCO.
He started by identifying some initiatives that provided a rationale for UNESCO being interested in MIL. Examples are its own Education for All (EFA) and Information for All (IFAP) programmes, and action lines from the World Summit on the Information Society C 3 “Access to information and knowledge”, C 7 “e-learning” and C 9 “Media”. Lau felt that “Inclusive knowledge societies require tools to measure media and information access and especially use” and there was currently a lack of data for decision making in this area. Some of the related statistics (e.g. number of books borrowed in libraries) were not good indicators for MIL.
Lau introduced a cycle which he felt that applied to bothIL and ML: an iterative cycle with Creation/ availability; Distribution/ supply; Information supply; Distribution/ use MIL skills. Lau also presented a “contellation” of info-communication skills (including onformation literacy, ICT and media literacy, literacy, oral communication, and reasoning). He saw the core skills of MIL as being: Access; Evaluation/ understanding ; and Use. Media Literacy (ML) has a mediating role in active citizenship (e.g. governance), public health (e.g. as regards risky behaviours) and aesthetics (e.g. creativity and self expression). Information Literacy (IL), on the other hand, he viewed as focusing more on the “Information Quality” elements (such as data/information reliability).
Lau felt that “both literacies aim to develop the same skills” (which he illustrated with a slide depicting convergence of IL and ML) but IL has in the past tended to focus more on academic side of things (as opposed to everyday behaviours). He also identified that some cultural factors will be more important than others, or will define attitdes to MIL, in different countries.
Lau moved on to talk about some principles of indicator development, and the practical options for developing MIL indicators. The first two options he presented were: independent survey specifically for MIL (expensive); and as a set of questions in an existing survey (for example PISA, national education surveys etc.). The remaining two options meant collecting no data specifically about MIL, but using existing statistics: either combining index of international indexes and international surveys; or index of secondary international indicators (e.g. statistics about creating/distribution of information like books).
Lau mentioned a number of pieces of work which the current MIL work is building on, some of which UNESCO has sponsored itself. These are some of those items (I’ve blogged most of them at some point, I think, some of them more than once!).
- Catts, R. and Lau, J. (2008). Towards Information Literacy Indicators. Paris: UNESCO.http://www.ifla.org/en/publications/towards-information-literacy-indicators
- Horton, F. (2007) Understanding Information Literacy: a primer. Paris: UNESCO. http://portal.unesco.org/ci/en/ev.php-URL_ID=25956&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html
- ITU (2010). Measuring the Information Society. Geneva: ITU. http://www.itu.int/dms_pub/itu-d/opb/ind/D-IND-ICTOI-2010-U2-SUM-PDF-E.pdf (ITU is the United Nations agency for telecommunications)
- Lau, Jesus (2005). International Guidelines for Information Literacy for Lifelong Learning. The Hague: IFLA. http://www.ifla.org/en/publications/guidelines-on-information-literacy-for-lifelong-learning
- Partnership for 21st Century Skills. http://www.p21.org
- Thompson, S. (Ed)(2003). Prague Declaration: Towards an Information Literate Society. http://portal.unesco.org/ci/en/ev.php-URL_ID=19636&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html
- UNESCO (2005). Beacons of the information society: Alexandria Proclamation on Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning. Alexandria: UNESCO. http://portal.unesco.org/ci/en/ev.php-URL_ID=20891&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html
Photos by Sheila Webber: The first picture shows the tiny straw baskets which our Puerto Rican hosts gave us (on a printout of the presentation) and the second shows some of the participants coming from lunch, Lau is second right.