If someone outside of library and information science (LIS) or education asked me to briefly define information literacy (IL), I might say something like, “Information literacy is the ability to recognize what information you need, and then know where to find it, how to find it, how to tell if you can trust it, and use it efficiently.” While this definition works, I don’t know if it truly encompasses all of information literacy.
During our class discussion on IL, one part of information literacy I couldn’t stop thinking about was using information ethically. When we discuss information literacy, we tend to think in tangible skills. I’m writing from an academic library point-of-view here, but we focus on skills that will help students succeed in school: defining research topics, choosing the best databases and keywords, using subject headings, etc.
Whether we’re in an academic setting or not, using information ethically is an important part of information literacy. The Internet has brought us greater and easier access to information, but it has also made it easier to misinform or misrepresent someone’s ideas, intentionally or unintentionally. As future librarians, thinking about ways to encourage ethical information use should be an important part of IL instruction. But I am curious. What would teaching ethics about using information look like in a public library? Or what about with younger students in an elementary or high school library?
4 Components of Instructional Literacy
My textbook, Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning by Char Booth, discusses instructional literacy–the skills and knowledge that make someone an effective and responsive teacher. Booth breaks it down into four parts. Since I’m just starting the course, I’m going to rate my comfort level with from 1 (highly uncomfortable) to 5 (very comfortable).
- Reflective Practice: 2. While I enjoy teaching, it also still makes me nervous. I’m usually very good about reflecting on my teaching after it is over, but I feel less aware and reflective while I’m actually teaching.
- Educational Theory: 1. I don’t have any formal background in instruction. My first job that included instruction (teaching computer classes at a public library) had me jump in and start teaching without any guidance at all. I’ve done a bit of reading here or there, but I don’t know much about theory.
- Teaching Technologies: 3.5. I enjoy learning about and trying new technologies. While I know less about assessing their use, I feel like I have a basic understanding about what technologies are out there and how they could be used.
- Instructional Design: 2.5. I feel like I have something of an understanding of how the previous three elements work together when designing and delivering a lesson. I feel comfortable with the basic elements of a lesson plan, if only because I’ve sought out and studied a bunch when I was trying to improve my computer classes.
Obviously there is a lot I have to learn, but I’m looking forward to the challenge!