Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Polymathic Information Literacy: deconstructing what it means to be interdisciplinarily literate #ecil2013

Earlier today at the ECIL conference in Istanbul, Robert Labaree (University of Southern California, USA) talked about Polymathic Information Literacy: deconstructing what it means to be interdisciplinarily literate. He was reporting on a study in which he asked the question: What are the information-related strategies needed to develop interdisciplinary skills? The speaker examined academic articles on interdisciplinarity, and statements from integrative classes, and programmes promoting interdisciplinarity. He identified some key learning objectives that recurred in the literature and for each of them he highlighted some sub-objectives that he thought were particularly aligned with information literacy (with particular emphasis on the information seeking aspect of IL). The learning objectives were: creative thinking, integrative learning and synoptic problem-solving, epistemological proficiency, collaborative enquiry, and comprehend and appreciate working with complexity. I didn’t have time to note down the aspects that he highlighted.
The speaker proposed some competencies for IL in interdisciplinarity, using each of the learning objectives listed above. Again, I did not have time to note down many of these, but for example “Locates accesses and evaluates contrarian ideas and perspectives” is one of the items for Creative Thinking (see also the picture of his slide, above) and “Recognises and can apply the preferred units if analysis methods and validation criteria of other disciplines” for Epistemological Proficiency. At the end of the presentation, the speaker emphasised that the competencies and outcomes had not been tested or put into practice, and that different learning outcomes might be needed for different study levels.
It was interesting to hear about an interdisciplinary approach rather than a discipline-specific one, and I hope to read more detail about this.

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