Information + competency + literacy = fluency

A thought piece.

In part one of an article series, June Wall, Library Coordinator, NSW Department of Education, considers the nature of information fluency and launches a collaborative discussion for teachers.

Information literacy

How do you see information literacy in your learning process? Is it a set of skills, a process or an end product? Can we say that students will be information literate by the end of school or is this a lifelong process? These questions are core to the learning and teaching responsibilities of teacher librarians and teachers.

Information fluency

In recent years, information fluency has also become a discussion point.

Information fluency may be envisioned as the nexus of information literacy (i.e. the library dimension); computer literacy (i.e. the information technology dimension) and critical thinking.

(Rettig & Hagen, 2003)

To be information fluent then requires a series of sub sets of learning or processes. This progression involves the learner being:

  • skilled – having the knowledge, ability or training to perform a certain activity or task well. For example, thinking ‘how do I create a reference list?’
  • competent – going beyond the skill level; being equipped with the abilities and behaviours to be successful. For example, ‘I can create a reference list in correct format and can do this easily’.
  • literate – having the ability to judge the appropriate skill or competence for a particular purpose. For example, ‘I can identify when I need to use a reference list and what type of method is required’.
  • fluent – having the ability to think critically while engaging with, creating, and utilising information and technology regardless of the platform, coupled with the natural disposition to operate without conscious thought in an information environment. For example, ‘I automatically start my research by keeping references in an appropriate tool and include citations as needed. It is done automatically.’

Fluency should be the goal in school libraries. So, the question is now – what are the steps or processes we need to consider to develop information fluent lifelong learners? Our challenge is to identify specific skills, and then consider how they can be developed in a spiral approach for students to become fluent across the wider skill set.

Developing our thinking about information fluency

Become part of the collaborative thinking about information fluency and how it can be developed. Contribute to the discussion via our shared Google Doc – Developing information fluency. This collaboration will form the basis of the next article on how we can move forward to support students’ progression to fluency.

References and further reading

Rettig, J. & Hagen, S.K. (2003). Stakeholders and strategies in information fluency. Transformations: Liberal Arts in the Digital Age 1(1).

How to cite this article – Wall, J. (2018). Information + competency + literacy = fluency. A thought piece. Scan 37(6).

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