Information Literacy Definition – Looking for El Dorado

My search for the ‘right’ definition of Information Literacy has certainly taken me on a path of self discovery. It was a fool hardy quest to think I would find the perfect one, but still I proceeded through hoards of definitions, trawling through books and database journals and still that true definition eluded me. Confronted with this information deluge, reduced to tears of frustration, I was suddenly aware that I was drowning in a sea of information. How had I got here? I began to reflect. Did I formulate the right questions at the beginning? Did I forget to use a concept map to clarify my direction? Did I spend too much time locating and collection information and not enough time ‘consuming’ it? Loertscher (2001) cites this as a common mistake. On answering these pertinent questions I was forced to admit I had not approached this assignment as an information literate student. I had made all the mistakes that my students make. I needed to approach the question with creative problem solving strategies. I needed a coffee break!
Perkins (as cited in Claxton, 2006) says that to develop a disposition involves two kinds of learning in addition to mastering the skill. I certainly had displayed a disposition for information literacy. I had reached the ‘ready and willing’ stage. I was ready to transfer my knowledge of the information seeking process and to use it to tackle the present problem. I was willing to use it without support or encouragement.
I have reached out for a life buoy and suddenly do not feel as overwhelmed. I employed some critical thinking, self evaluation and reflection skills which are so imperative to information literacy. I have a low pain threshold which may never improve but maybe I should push the boat out on my tolerance for confusion. I am no longer on the quest for the right answer but enjoying the process of possibility.
My journey has forced me to rethink my guided inquiry unit. I have deliberated on the key question; I have kept a journal and made adjustments to my teaching based on my reflections. I have also asked the students to document a Timeline of Emotions. Kulhthau’s ISP model of incorporating thoughts, feelings and actions has appealed to me and I am interested to note the students’ journey in order to identify the zone of intervention. I have always tended to teach strategies in sequence disregarding whether students were at that stage or not. I just presumed when they got there they would remember the skill and use it appropriately. The just-enough-just-in-time is an exciting new way for me to approach my teaching.

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