Tuesday, April 12, 2022

#LILAC22 Information literacy: elements of a maturing discipline

 Pam McKinney here live blogging from the Lilac conference. Dr Karen Kaufmann and Dr Clarence Maybee presented a session about the discipline of information literacy. IL is a soft applied discipline (c. Sheila Webber and Bill Johnston!) “emerging” in 1999 and “maturing” in 2017. Sheila and Bill outline the historical progress of IL, and a case for IL as a discipline, and the factors that negatively affect this (see here). Il is a sociocultural practice through the life course. The elements of a discipline are outlined by Becher and Trowler (2001), as having knowledge practices and knowledge community. Karen mentioned the paper very recently published by myself, Alison Hicks, Geoff Walton, Annemaree Lloyd and Charles Inskip where we examine the way that IL has been leveraged in other disciplines, where we say that IL is often conceptualised as a skill, but this impoverishes our view of IL. 

Karen spoke about the need to theorise IL, and understand how this relates to practice. We need a shared vocabulary, to strengthen our IL narrative. In the university context, If IL is understood by other disciplinary faculty, it’s easier to integrate into the curriculum, and it’s possible to develop credit-bearing courses, which in turn allows for more dialogue about IL as a transdisciplinary concept. 

Karen then introduced some characteristics of a discipline, developed by a global interdisciplinary group, and how these relate to IL as a discipline. First is that there is a community of scholars, with groups, organisations and communities, that meet and discuss, present research findings and methods. Next communication networks e.g. academic and scholarly avenues for publication, online platforms and special interest groups. The third element is about having ethical concerns, addressing equity in the use of information such as privacy. Next is the tradition and history of inquiry, so we can identify a timeline of maturation and history of the literature, and that we have standards and frameworks adopted by professional bodies. The next characteristic is having specific modes of inquiry, using specific methodologies e.g. phenomenography, acknowledging epistemological approaches, or ways of knowing. The last element is knowledge and curricula, the body of knowledge, skills and values that comprise IL.

Karen posed the question, say we said that IL was a discipline (like Psychology), what would be the sub disciplines? E.g. media literacy, digital literacy, visual literacy etc. We then had a small group discussion to explore the idea of IL as a discipline. There were some really interesting ideas shared in a lively discussion, but I really feel that this was a useful and timely discussion to have at LILAC.
Photo: Karen with Sheila Webber and Bill Johnston, 2022

No comments: