Sunday, 21 March 2010

Education Blogging

My first eprofst715 assignment is basically done: I was asked for a 1500 word essay on a choice of topics - I chose:

The Nature of Information Literacy

[excerpts - non-quote citations stripped]

The term, Information Literacy, became popular in the late 80s, when the Information Superhighway was new. There was, and still is, a lot of loose talk about an Information Age. The association suggests buzz-phrase status for Information Literacy as well. This phrase is particularly associated with institutions, such as brick-and-mortar libraries, which struggle for relevance in an increasingly digital and online World.

The “information” in Information Literacy is not the meaning encoded in a document that a literate person extracts, or assigns, it is the information about the information, and the document itself. This is what the computer literate call “metadata”. A highly literate person is skilled at finding relevant information in even obfuscated documents, an information literate person is skilled at finding relevant documents. The hunter who can quickly and consistently find information-rich spoor to follow is displaying a high level of information literacy.

As a set of skills, Information Literacy is an essential part of meta-learning (learning about learning - the ability to discover how to learn in different situations). How well you can locate and distinguish helpful documents will affect how well you can figure out what you need to learn and how to go about acquiring that learning. It should be stressed that Information Literacy cannot properly give you skills for meta-learning, it is the skills.

Awareness of information management issues, especially privacy, has
lead some to include moral values in their Information Literacy definitions. For example, The NZ Learning Media publication; The school library and learning in the information landscape:  Guidelines for New Zealand schools (p11, 2002) expands on the usual definition to explicitly include ethical use of information. The implication is that I-Literate people will use information ethically - but whose ethics are we talking about?

There is a danger that I-Literate people will be expected to use information in accordance with the mores of the dominant culture and, from context, NZ schools should be teaching this. This risks a kind of cultural colonialism.

Future generations must be empowered to act against the dominant culture or New Zealand cannot advance as a society. At one point it was considered un-ethical to provide contraceptive information to teenagers. Nonetheless we see that teenagers who critically assess sources of information about their sexual practise are displaying high Information Literacy skills. Teenagers who act from the position of knowledge that results may still act unethically in the eyes of the dominant culture.

Information Literacy lies in the critical assessment and production of relevant documents. The ability to make good decisions about information, even if the decision turns out to be wrong.

The ethical use of information demonstrates cultural literacy. The associated meta-skills would involve assessing the ethical implications of an information source; copies of commercial DVDs, remote access to a laptop, personal information on a government database - all issues of recent notoriety. The representation of IL in this paper takes a step back from the usual ideas and allows that the information literate may also choose to act in a manner present NZ society judges immoral, or even illegal.

An information literate person chooses information sources from a position of knowledge rather than of ignorance. They are aware of wider issues and so, while self-empowered, also enrich us culturally.

[Original work written for Assignment 1: EDPROFST 715 at the Faculty of Education, University of Auckland. Lecturer - Liz Probert - cc by-nd 2010 by Simon Bridge]

After I've got the marks - I can upload the pdf. As it is I am haly expecting UAs anti-plagiarism software to spit its dummy over this blog :)

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