Information literacy, the ability to access, evaluate, organize and use information from a variety of sources, is a necessary component of education that must be implemented in curriculum for maximum student success. Though there are many different mediums through which to gain access to information, a major tool used in today’s school systems other than the printed word is technology through the use of computers. Why this shift? According to Holly Barton, in her article “Information “Literacy: Learning How to Learn”, the use of technology “provides acquisition to greater volume and depth of information than was ever possible before”(Barton, 2009, p.2). This has made it vital to educators, teachers and librarians alike, to shift the way they allow students to engage in learning.
If schools and libraries were incapable of providing technology, then it would be near impossible to create the type of lifelong learners that we envision our world to be full of in the future. Technology has allowed us to shift from direct instruction to discovery by “doing”, from teacher centered to learner centered activities, from learning as torture to learning as fun, and from teacher as transmitter to teacher as facilitator. When this type of learning is established, we are creating students who learn faster and more in depth, which is more motivating and encouraging for students, teachers and parents. (Barton, 2009)) Technology for information literacy is necessary for both schools and libraries to help our youth master the critical thinking process.
What does this mean for schools?
Schools will have to be capable of providing technology to make it possible to produce information literate students and it will have to begin at the earliest grades. In her article “Understanding Information Literacy”, Barbara Humes insists that students need to learn early on “how to learn” so that they can be independent seekers of information throughout their lives. In order to do this, teachers of all subjects must “blend their traditional fact-based approach with an emphasis on learner-based inquiry and the scientific inquiry process” (as cited in Lennox, 1993). This is more of a self-discovery type learning that would be beneficial for the student to master.
The fight for information literacy is being tackled on all fronts in the school as well. This isn’t just a job for the teacher. The principal is at the forefront of the process and is to advance resource-based learning by providing ample planning time and a respectable budget. Humes also cites, “As instructional partners, the classroom teacher and library media specialist are actively involved in identifying the learning needs of the students, developing teaching units that facilitate activities which offer meaningful practice in using a variety of information resources, and guiding student progress” (as cited in Wisconsin Educational Media Association, 1993). With all of these positions hard at work, information literacy is something that a school should be able to accomplish. Schools can become a place where learning is fun and teachers act as facilitators more than anything. The idea is to get the ball rolling for the students and allow them to take it from there.
What does this mean for libraries?
As more schools make this shift to include information literacy in the curriculum, we will see a more active role for librarians. This type of learning will create a demand for varied media sources, and in turn will create the need for staff to re-evaluate how money is disseminated between text books and library media resources. Not only will school libraries be affected, but public libraries will have more responsibilities as well. They will have to work harder to keep up with what the surrounding schools are studying to ensure that students and parents will be able to locate necessary materials outside of the school atmosphere. Librarians will also be called upon more frequently than ever to provide guidance to teachers and learners to facilitate information literacy and lifelong learning. (Humes, 2003)
Librarians will have the opportunity to use their skills to the fullest to help these kids succeed. Imagine walking into your public library and seeing students hard at work with their local librarians. You might see the hustle and bustle of excited students searching through information and sharing it with each other while looking to the librarian for verification. You might also see siblings helping each other become problem solvers through the use of media equipment, maybe even with the help of mom or dad. This is what a community library should look like, especially when we are promoting life long learning.
Something to consider:
Schools are currently cutting media specialists and replacing them with non-certified people to save money. How will this affect the progress of information literacy in schools?
Barton, H. Information Literacy: Learning How to Learn. Rhode Island Network for Education Technology. Retrieved on October 20, 2009, from http://www.ri.net/RITTI_Fellows/Barton/infolit.html
Humes, Barbara. Understanding information literacy. Retrieved on November 15, 2009, from http://www.libraryinstruction.com/infolit.html
Plotnick, Eric. Information Literacy. Retrieved on November 15, 2009, from http://www.libraryinstruction.com/infolit2.html