Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Thinking About Information Literacy

I think about information literacy a lot. What college librarian doesn't? But a couple of interesting reports have come out recently and Rollins is going through a process of curriculum review at the moment so I am particularly interested in the role of information literacy in the curriculum.

The AACU 2007 report of its Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative "College Learning for the New Global Economy" lists information literacy as one of six "intellectual and practical skills" that are "essential learning outcomes" should be "practiced extensively, across the curriculum, in the context of progressively more challenging problems, projects, and standards for performance" (p.22.)

On the other side of the pond JISC and the British Library just released a report on the Google Generation. According to the Executive Summary, they aimed to, "identify how the specialist researchers of the future, currently in their school or pre-school years, are likely to access and interact with digital resources in five to ten years’ time. This is to help library and information services to anticipate and react to any new or emerging behaviours in the most effective way" (p.5.)

Although they define the Google generation as people born after 1993, they note that the information seeking behaviors of that generation are now common to us all, "horizontal, bouncing, checking and viewing in nature. Users are promiscuous, diverse and volatile" (p.9.)

There is so much in this report it is tough to pick out just a couple of thing, but here is what really concerns me. "The information literacy of young people, has not improved with the widening access to technology: in fact, their apparent facility with computers disguises some worrying problems" (p.12.)

The JISC report is aimed at helping libraries change to serve this new generation, but I am more concerned with the how liberal arts colleges like Rollins need to change our curricula to effectively educate such students.

Information literacy isn't the point of a liberal education but I agree with the LEAP report. It is an essential skill that should be practiced repeatedly in increasingly complex ways throughout the four years that students spend with us.

No comments: