Thursday, November 14, 2013

Information Literate Lives in the 21st Century #ecil2013

This is the presentation that I gave at the European Conference on Information Literacy in Istanbul in October 2013.
Information Literate Lives in the 21st Century from Sheila Webber

This was the abstract
"The aim of this paper is to outline a curriculum for an information literate lifecourse, sensitive to the context of the individual within a changing information culture. Citizens need to be able to self-audit their changing information literacy needs through life, so they can identify strategies for meeting those needs. Developing this kind of information awareness is vital to empower learners. It should also focus the efforts of professional educators and librarians on lifelong IL, and not only on the immediate needs of a specific course or job. This is different from the more usual generic approach which aims to intervene to develop skills for a citizen’s immediate needs at particular life-points, most generally within formal education.
In presenting our argument we draw on our own work (e.g. Johnston et al., 2012; Johnston & Webber, 2006) and that of Schuller & Watson (2009). A key element is our model of the information literate person in the changing information environment, introduced in Webber and Johnston (2000). This locates the Information Literate person at the centre of five powerful social and economic vectors. These are: the nature of the information economy, technology, organisational culture, local/national culture & society, and personal goals. In order to develop as an information literate citizen, each person needs to be able to identify changes relevant to their life path. This process of creating and updating a personal information literacy map would be the central focus for preparing people to cope with, and plan for, information literacy transitions.
The curriculum for an information literate lifecourse is framed, on the one hand, by these vectors. It is also framed by the life stage of the individual, using the four key stages and transitional points proposed by Schuller & Watson (2009). Schuller & Watson (2009) recommend that people at these transition points should be entitled to guidance and learning opportunities, and they note the current lack of support and investment post-formal education.
We will further identify that as well as personal transitions (age and life events), transitional points emerge from the dynamism of cultural, economic and political circumstances, such as revolution and recession. Living examples from today’s world (from knowing how to find the information to escape from a country torn by civil war, to drawing on the resources which can make life with an old-age-related illnesses tolerable) demonstrate that educating citizens to develop their information literacy to changing circumstances is a necessity in the 21st Century world.

Johnston, B., Anderson, T. & McDonald, A. (2012) Improving pre-entry access to university: Towards a model of transformational alignment. Adult Learner: The Irish Journal of Adult and Community Education , 82-96.
Johnston, B. & Webber, S. (2006) As we may think: Information Literacy as a discipline for the information age. Research Strategies, 20 (3), 108-121.
Schuller, T. & Watson, D. (2009) Learning through life: Inquiry into the future for lifelong learning (IFLL). Leicester: National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE).
Webber, S. & Johnston, B. (2000) Conceptions of information literacy: New perspectives and implications. Journal of Information Science, 26(6), 381-397.

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