Friday, May 20, 2011

One department - part 2: Information literacy as an umbrella term

As I wrote yesterday, I'm continuing to search for up-to-date research on library and IT departments in schools coming together as one.  I've heard of a number of cutting-edge international schools that have gone this route, as well as many schools in various countries.  This morning I came across a post at Synechism by Doug Belshaw, whom I had the pleasure of meeting last summer at the Google Teacher Academy.  Doug recently put together a presentation for the 2011 Association of Independent Schools IT Manager's Conference about the essential elements of digital literacies.  Please click here to read the whole post.  Doug is currently writing his Ed.D. thesis on new literacies.

This is what I learned from Doug's presentation:

  • Information literacy is an umbrella term that covers many literacies (media literacy, digital literacy etc)
  • Digital literacy is the ability to participate in a range of critical and creative practices that involve understanding, sharing and creating meaning with different kinds of technology and media (Futurelab 2010).
  • Terms vary across countries:  for example media literacy in the UK, digital media literacy in the EU and in Australia, Info Comm in Singapore, digital kompetanse in Norway,  and information literacy in the USA.
So I'm thinking - if we are talking about umbrella terms, if we have the same information literacy processes in library and IT (these processes are outlined in the 5-step model - define, access, understand and evaluate, create, communicate as mentioned in Doug's post) which seem to match the strands we too are using when writing our learner outcomes, then surely the practical manifestation of this umbrella is a single department?

Leaving aside literature appreciation, there are 4 more strands in our information literacy programme delivered through the libraries:
  • Define an information task 
  • Access and select information
  • Organise and reference information
  • Evaluate the process and the product 
At the same time we originally came up with IT strands (as part of the inquiry cycle) which were:
  • Investigate
  • Create
  • Discuss/Evaluate/Reflect
and we have the ICT in the PYP strands which are:
  • Investigate
  • Organize
  • Create
  • Communicate
  • Collaborate
  • Be responsible digital citizens
Clearly we have about a 70% overlap which in a practical sense we realised last year led to inefficiencies, with both departments covering the same things but with conflicting messages (at times students even had different log ins for the same tools that were being used in both library and IT such as Glogster and Animoto) and at other times led to gaps as each department thought something was being covered by the other when in fact it wasn't being covered at all.

And so the discussions go on .....

Photo Credit:  I love Rainbows and Sunshine by D. Sharon Pruitt Attribution 

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