What is Information Literacy? – Master of Information

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Over three billion people worldwide use the Internet according an article authored by Jacob Davidson, a Time Magazine economy expert. With more people accessing and publishing content on the Internet, it is crucial that learners hone their information literacy skills. This process begins in the academic setting yet quickly expands to career and social environments as well. Various associations network to learn and teach the skills students need to navigate contemporary information sources, and as more citizens adopt smart devices, information and literacy become more difficult to distinguish.

Comprehending the Information Deluge

Information literacy can be defined as a person’s skill at recognizing when it is necessary to seek new information and locating credible information efficiently. With the current information deluge brought forth by the Internet, this skill is increasingly important. This applies whether an individual seeks knowledge for academia, professional or personal reasons. In addition to the Internet, an information literate individual also knows how to extract quality information from libraries, special interest group publications, media outlets and other sources. A professional website appearance no longer indicates quality content. Thus, since almost anyone who knows how to use a computer can post information online, it is critical that those seeking information understand how to vet sources.

Technology and Information Literacy

Although one’s talent with information technology is their foundation for information literacy, this skill involves more than computer savvy. Information literate learners commonly gain needed technological skills while using resources for business, academic and personal reasons. Therefore, these two disciplines often overshadow each other and can be, at times, indistinguishable.
To clarify this matter, the National Research Council penned a report on the subject. The Council cited that the distinguishing ideals between the two concepts is that information technology revolves around skill with computer hardware and software, while information literacy encompasses absorbing and assimilating newfound knowledge – a now monumental task simplified by technology. Knowledge seekers can position themselves with critical lifelong learning skills by gaining information technology and information literacy skills.

Information Literacy in the Academic Setting

Higher learning institutions exist to produce competent, capable learners. These establishments teach students critical thinking skills and provide new learning methods. These skills and methods are important for an individual’s after-graduate career growth.
Information literacy also positively affects how a person functions in society. Because of this, many academic accreditation groups mandate this skill as a required learning outcome. Academics, school administrators and library staff members work together to ensure that students gain this vital skill – each using their given resources to promote the concept.

Teaching and Information Literacy

According to a report written by the Boyer Commission, educators should instill this skill using interactive lessons that gives students the opportunity to develop their information literacy. These exercises involve active participation, problem solving and critical thinking. As students learn to use disparate data sources, they build their knowledge base and learn to teach themselves. They can sharpen their skills using library resources, live investigations and statistical modeling – activities which educators can easily include in school curricula.

Defining Information Literacy Guidelines

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) sets the standards for information literacy for grades kindergarten through twelve. These standards transfer to undergraduate studies and daily life. The standards clearly express the competencies needed for information literacy. Students who learn these skills can confidently navigate the massive information volume available online.

Through exposure and repetition, young learners can gradually absorb information literacy skills. As students’ progress through their education, faculty members can revisit information literacy skills, increasing the learners’ aptitude levels with each training round.

Measuring Student Information Literacy

Educators at all grade levels use several indicators to measure student information literacy. Ideally, all parties involved in the student’s education communicate to produce the best information literacy learning environment for all students; educators who keep an open communication line, in regard to information literacy, can reap the most positive student learning outcomes. As the student’s lessons progress, these educators can also improve on information literacy coursework efficiencies.

More to Consider than Learning

Educators who teach contemporary information literacy face a distinctive challenge. Young learners have virtually unlimited information access. With the advent of much misleading – yet convincing – information sources, students must develop investigative information literacy skills early, which can provide a foundation that will make it easier for future learners to distinguish fact from fiction. In addition to finding credible online resources, students can now easily access and pursue real dialogue with industry professionals via the Internet. It is important that educators teach students to vet theses sources as well.

The Global Information Literacy Environment

Information Literacy advocates worldwide recognize the need to comprehend and manage information. The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) issues a bulletin that updates subscribers on the latest information literacy news from around the globe. One topic the group focuses on is how social media affects information literacy. They question whether social media platforms like Facebook are more relevant as an information source or a cultural staple. The federation also reported on information literacy contests held in China to promote the skill. Other IFLA reports detailed Spain’s initiative to investigate information literacy in the region’s universities and upcoming information literacy conferences in London.

Information Industry Thought Leaders

Rutgers’s School of Communication and Information features scholars and thought leaders that are recognized nationally and internationally for their innovative contributions towards communication, information and media related problems. Most of the faculty address the concerns facing policymakers, community groups and various industry members. Considering that this school reflects Rutgers’s holistic, interdisciplinary approach to education, the faculty’s research often crosses over into other disciplines, some of which include health and wellness, global media, community and democracy and organizational leadership.

Online publishers and Internet users comprise a staggering demographic. In today’s data heavy environment, it is critical that Internet users learn to identify quality information efficiently. A strong information literacy foundation begins in kindergarten. Educators continue to reinforce this skill throughout a learner’s studies. With proficient training, learners will continue to improve their information literacy skills even after graduation. As more well-presented Internet information surfaces, learners must understand how critical it is to judge information sources. Globally, thought leaders in the information literacy arena work together to meet this end.

Learn More

Information means more than knowledge, it means solutions. When technology, people and information intersect, society and industry benefit. You can harness the power of information with our online Master of Information from Rutgers School of Communication and Information.