Friday, 5 March 2010

Information Literacy 2.0 : hype or discourse refinement

When I came across the reference to this article (Sonja Spiranec and Mihaela Banek Zorica Information Literacy 2.0 : hype or discourse refinement Journal of Documentation 66(1) 140-153.) I feared the worst : another article splitting hairs about what IL is , and full of long words (pedagogies, praxis etc.). In fact I found myself agreeing with much of the content, despite remaining sceptical about the need for the term, "Information Literacy 2.0). I don't normally do long posts (or read long articles with big words...) but this article is so relevant to this blog that I have made an exception.

The authors start with a description of how the term IL has developed "in response to the issues that were necessitated by the developments within the information society". The Web was crucial in this development. Despite digitilisation and shifts toward virtual libraries the basic concepts of IL have remained the same, Web 2.0 has brought new landscapes which are user-centred and very much about participation. Services can be shaped by this participation. New types of information resources have appeared. "What will happen with information literacy now that both [information landscapes and education] have fundamentally changed with the appearnace of Web 2.0? Can information literact remain unchanged?"

When I scoped our book there was very little mention of "Information Literacy 2.0" on the web. The authors have used some of the same sources which I used. Most of them predate our book. The connection between IL and Web 2.0 was new then, and the case studies we included were largely trendsetters. The authors of this article have used the intervening time to accept the importance of the juxtapostion of IL and Web 2.0 and attempt to redraw the map of what IL can be.
In doing this they have been critical of the skills model of IL and moved toward the socio-technical model of Scandinavian authoes like Tuominen. In other words IL stems from particular groups and communities , evolving within subject disciplines, and is practiced by communites using their own technologies.
The authors refer to posts about IL2.0 saying "one could easily get the impression that IL2.0 is entirely about using Web 2.0 services a medium of information delivery and a method of education". Perhaps the authors had seen this blog or read our book after all!! However we always knew it was more than just offering new methods of IL delivery. This happened to be the most attractive and easily understood part three years ago.
Then we move on to the paradigm shift (there always has to be one of these!)following recent developments in information landscapes and approaches to learning, and how this might affect IL.
Web 2.0 is changing what it means to be information literate : the blurring of authority following the erosion of information context (Yes, yes!)Web 2.0 "brought an end to the stability of information context by creating flat and fluid information spaces". This leads to increased emphasis on critical understanding of how information is generated. They say"Information Literacy 2.0 further presupposes the reduction of the contents related to the typical assumptions of information retrieval such as extensive introductions to Boolean operators". Totally agreed : we spend more time teaching how to evaluate what is found and less on the intricacies of search technique. In other words more on SCONUL 7 pillar no. 5 and less on no. 4. This is exactly what I predicted several years ago.
The authors are critical of the one size fits all approach to IL teaching - a mistake which I used to make years ago when having to teach students from many disciplines! The importance of the discipline and the recognition that information searching is seldom if ever done in a structured sequential way (the way we often teach it - for our convenience) are points very well made.I like we should "encourage students to stop seeing research/assignments as a process of collecting information and instead to see in terms of forming their own perespectives and creating new insights, which is in the core of IL 2.0 as well".
The authors note the widening of library instruction beyond what is contained in the library and subscribed to it and which is now widened to include blogs, Wikipedia etc. etc.
"The only way for educational institutions to control or influence information behaviour of students in these new realms is indirectly through IL programmes". Moving away from Booleamn operators toward tagging, issues of reliability etc. Totally agree. Just been teaching that all week to large classes of new Master level students!! I wish that was sufficient :and we were that important! However I am sure that the institution has duties regarding protection of privacy, plagiarism and academics have the key part to play by utilising the new technologies to enhance the educational experience. However I am bound to say that although Web 2.0 is now mainstream and here to stay, I do not think we are anywhere near the tipping point where the educational experience of the students has fundamentally changed. That tends to drive a stake through the whole argument of the paper.
Will we soon be talking about IL3.0? I don't accept we are talking about IL2.0 : merely that we have seen a merging of many literacies around a common core which is fundamentally about information in one form or another, and that Web 2.0 has enabled these artefacts to be created and shared by everyone. This requires a shift in the balance of the way IL is "taught" with more emphasis on evaluation and the ethical issues of re-use of material.

Thanks for staying with this : I hope you have found it interesting! What a way to spend a Friday afternoon, writing this...

Pic is of a "social learning space" years ago here at the library in Luton. Have things changed?

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