Information Literacy and Web 2.0

One of the books on my reading pile was Information Literacy Meets Library 2.0 by Peter Godwin and Jo Parker (2008). I found the book written by different authors for different chapters very useful to update my knowledge about Web 2.0 tools and to see how they are being used in different sectors / situations and countries. Although most of the writers are from HE and are writing about HE I think the information could be useful to other sectors too. I was particularly interested in the chapter by Sheila Webber on Educating Web 2.0 LIS students for information literacy which also has some relevance for educating teachers. Among the many things she said here are the ones that I thought were most relevant the project and what we are doing.

I agree with her that there is no need for a new definition for IL in a Web 2.0 world. “.. key issue is how you understand the concept of ‘information’.” “Commentators on IL make the assumption that ‘information’ in IL definitions refers to textual information, but that is not necessarily the case. The notes on IL skills which accompany the CILIP definition make it clear that ‘information may be available on paper (books, reference works, journals, magazines, newspapers, etc), digitally (on CD-ROMS, over the internet or the world wide web, on DVDs, on your own computer or network etc), through other media such as broadcast or film or from a colleague or friend’ (Armstrong et al., 2005). p40.

“Web 2.0 has made publication and information combination easier. This means that ethical and legal use of information come to the foreground, as well as issues of data protection and privacy. It also means that there are exciting possibilities fro encouraging people to develop their understanding of IL through creating a variety of information products.”
“… working with others in an information-literate way. Developing more effective habits in sharing information, and in managing information for use within a group, are skills which are essential in many workplaces. Freely available Web 2.0 tools for sharing and aggregating information can be used to develop such skills.” p42-43

“When it comes to librarians’ skills in teaching IL, the European working party identified four main areas for learning:
1 Curriculum design and planning (one of the elements listed here is understanding appropriate use of technology in designing learning environments).
2 Understanding learners and learning theory (which includes understanding e-learning models and the needs of e-learners).
3 Understanding basic concepts, theories and practice of teaching.
4 Understanding the context for teaching and learning (e.g. issues concerned with the teaching and learner-support role of the librarian).

Learning to teach using Web 2.0 tools fits within these four areas: there is increasing consensus that ‘good strategies for e-learning’ are part of ‘good strategies for learning’, so that teaching with technology should not be seen as a strange and separate activity. It is always valuable to learn more about specific tools, to put theory into practice. However, technology changes so fast that it is more crucial to learn some of the underlying concepts. Thus you can develop an approach to teaching that enables you to evaluate new tools and see how they can been used effectively in learning and teaching.

One problem for LIS educators is fitting everything that needs to be taught into the curriculum.” p45

Other chapterrs which were of interest was John Kirriemuir – Teaching information literacy through digital games which is an interesting idea in it’s early stages and Judy O’Connell – School Library 2.0: new skills, new knowledge, new future.

I had hoped for more in the chapter on Public Libraries but then it is still early days and the idea of using blogs for learners in Public Libraries to record their thoughts, experiences etc came from reading this chapter and the chapter on Engage or enrage: the blog as an assessment tool – Georgina Payne.

As always the Open University seems to be ahead of the game but then I always find the work Jo Webb and the OU team do is amazing and an inspiration to us all. It’s not surprising that she is one of the co editors on this book. The chapters by Peter Godwin are good at setting the scene and the conclusions which the following are exerts from.

“In the world of information scarcity, publishers mediated the content which was published and added to the world’s knowledge. At first the web simply continued this process. Although at that time individual expression was possible on the web it was technical and difficult. Web 2.0 changed all this and in the age of the amateur, we are beginning to see the development of new forms of authority. “ p176

“The importance of the information-literate person being able to interpret the context of what is found, based on healthy scepticism of everything they see on the web of the future is crucial. In other words, we help students to construct meaning from what they find (Jastram, 2006). What has changed is that they will be doing this more often in a collabotative, active way because of the use of Web 2.0 tools. IL, the most important of the patchwork of capabilities which will help them make sense of their world, has undoubtly been greatly enriched by the availability of these new participatory tools.” p178.

Jastram, I. (2006) Information Literacy 2.0, Pegasus Librarian (blog),

See the Information Literacy meets Library 2.00 blog for updates.


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