September 6, 2015 at 9:10 pm #1671Will WoodParticipant
This week the topic of discussion was Information and Digital Literacy which is something that I find myself increasingly interested in the more we explore it.
The first question that was posed to us was a nice broad one that got the conversation started by asking “Why are information and digital literacy programs important?” The general consensus was that both Information and Digital literacy programs do a great number of things including but certainly not limited to empowering individuals by encouraging self-directed learning and providing access to skills needed in this digital age. Kirsty Jade – @xKirstyJade highlighted that “they help bridge the divide and ensure that disadvantaged groups are no longer being left behind” which raised questions about the rights an individual has to access information including the idea that access to the internet should be viewed as a basic human right due to the fact that participating in all aspects of life in this digital age now requires a connection to the ever growing online community. The importance of digital inclusion becomes clear when you consider that there is a large cross section of society that does not have access to technology, cannot afford it or does not have the digital literacy skills required to use it and thus is not represented or given a voice in the digital conversation. Kathleen Smeaton – @kathleensme furthered this idea by saying that Information and Digital Literacy are important because of “Social justice! Information is a right, not a privilege, if you can’t access info you miss out socially & economically”
We were then asked to define what it means to be information and technology literate. For me to be information literate is to be able to seek and find, read and understand, extrapolate and apply information. To be technologically literate is to be able to utilise tech as a vehicle for information access, storage, management and dissemination. My thoughts on the matter were echoed by many including Chris Brander – @cj_brander who tweeted that being literate was about “being able to use technology and also being able to critically analyse information”.
This conversation led into the third question which asked us to what extent all library staff should have the skills and knowledge to support customers’ use of technology. The majority of contributors agreed that library staff should strive to meet the technological expectations of their customers’ to the fullest extent possible. This included library staff striving to stay up to date as the technology landscape changes. This led into a discussion about how the younger generations will have a much greater depth of technological knowledge due to being raised in this digital environment but also with schools placing a greater emphasis on tech skills such as coding.
The fourth question asked what types of programs, products and services libraries should offer to support the development of information and digital literacy. Many people focussed on the practical skills that are now necessary to participate fully in the modern age including Chris Sonneveld – @C_Sonn who listed “online banking, potential privacy and security threats, use of mobile devices, ebooks/ereaders” as part of the requirements of contemporary life. The chat then turned to how many government services are now able to be accessed most easily through online portals. This reduces the chance for those who need the services most to be able to access them without public library facilities or support from the government agencies themselves.
I found that the required readings for this week approached the idea of literacies with an open mind that was willing to be changed just as the context in which these literacies are rooted is constantly changing and developing to stay in stride with the modern day. In Chapter 20 of Information Literacy Beyond Library 2.0. Godwin explores that among the many literacies that have been substantiated “overlap is common and literacies change and develop.”
This sentiment left me with questions that I will now leave with you.
Should the many literacy concepts be separated as they currently are? Or should we accept that literacy is the core concept regardless of how it is presented? Does this separation help or hinder the overarching goal of these pedagogies?
September 7, 2015 at 8:54 pm #1686Sarah RossParticipant
Really good summary of the Twitter chat and it helped me navigate through storify as I could not join in.
In answer to your question, I ended up thinking that labelling the various literacies rather obscured the central idea articulated by @cj_brander, the need for critical analysis. I would call it critical thinking and feel it should be exercised a lot. The idea that it is written, spoken, broadcast, posted, blogged, etc, etc does not mean you should believe it absolutely.
September 12, 2015 at 1:26 pm #1867Leena RiethmullerParticipant
Thanks for your summary of the Twitter chat. I enjoyed it at the time and it was nice to read over your comments to solidify in my mind all the different ideas we covered.
In answer to your question: I think giving something a label is useful in order to get a face-value idea of what it might be, but it’s necessary for people to know that a label is only a label and that we need to go deeper in order to understand the differences and complexities of context. Because of this, I think it is important to teach people how to identify different contexts and become literate about those contexts by themselves. It’s a big ask, and I don’t really know where to start. I am excited to do more reading about it. When considering the digital divide, I don’t think it is realistic to expect people to learn for themselves, at least when they are still learning the basics of technology. I think in order to get people to feel confident enough to learn on their own, we need to do a lot of facilitation. In my week 7 blog post I write a bit about Lifelong Learning. It may interest you to have a read.
September 15, 2015 at 1:19 pm #2032Stacey LarnerModerator
I guess literacy is a word that has a specific primary meaning, so putting the label at the front helps people to flag that we’re not just talking the ability to read and write. In fact now I want to go on a big tangent exploring why it is the word literacy was co-opted to mean fluency in different areas… why not information and digital fluency? But I digress. I think I like what Leena says about lifelong learning, because I actually think that’s easier to grasp than “information literacy” as a concept. But (more buts!) again having the label helps to contextualise what specific life area we are talking about. So… in answer to your question, I suppose I err on the side of letting sleeping labels lie, while pushing for the recognition that lifelong learning encompasses all the above ;).
September 16, 2015 at 12:50 am #2045Luke MysliwyParticipant
Hi will thanks for posting your summary of the twitter chat. In answer to your question I think different types of literacy should be seperated, and also well defined. This would help us (as librarians) to establish what it is people actually need and identify gaps in their (as well as OUR) knowledge and skill base. It was great to see everyone’s points of view on what defines ‘technical literacy’, ‘digital literacy’, ‘information literacy’, and even just ‘literacy’, but I don’t know if we came to any consensus on how to define any of them. There are different grades of literacy, and perhaps some kind of definition of those grades of literacy can help us figure out what stage people are up to with their ‘digital/IT literacy’.
September 20, 2015 at 5:17 pm #2120Robynne Kilborne BlakeParticipant
Hi Will, that’s a great summary of the Twitter chat.
I really enjoy reading the Twitter chat champion summaries because they help to clarify in my mind the different strands of the arguments – the chats themselves are so frantically fast it’s not always easy to grasp and consider all the interesting things people have to say. In answer to your questions, I thought, when I was doing the readings, that the different definitions of literacy were rather artificial and tended to obscure rather than reveal meaning. But having had time to think about this a little more I’m coming around to a more tolerant view. I like too Leena’s remark that labels can be helpful in getting an initial understanding of what something is about but then deeper understanding results from learning and the label becomes less important. It’s more of a signpost than a destination.
I loved this topic and feel very excited about exploring it further. Enjoyed chatting with you also! Maybe I’m starting to get the hang of Twitter a little bit – never thought I’d say that ……
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