How can information literacy be modelled from a lifelong learning perspective?

Irving, C., Brettle, A., Hall, H. (2015, June). How can information literacy be modelled from a lifelong learning perspective?. Paper presented at Information: interactions and impact (i3) 2015, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland.



**Slides for this presentation are available at**

Traditionally much research into information literacy has focused on one area: it prioritises investigations into the information literacy skills of those in education. Provision for students in higher education (for example, Bruce, Edwards & Lupton, 2006; Johnston & Webber, 2003), and the development of frameworks and/or models in this sector are most readily found here (for example, Association of College and Research Libraries, n.d; Bent & Stubbings, 2011; Bruce, et al, 2006; Society of College, National and University Libraries, 1999). There is also good coverage of frameworks and models for the school sector. This includes the Big6 information literacy process (Eisenberg & Berkowitz, 1987) and the PLUS model (Herring, 1996, 1999). However, while such frameworks and models are valuable in their own right for the particular constituencies that they serve, they are not easily applied to other contexts.

There is now a growing interest in information literacy research that examines in detail contexts other than education. For example, Lloyd has conducted empirical studies of information literacy in the workplace (Lloyd, 2010; Lloyd, 2011) in research situated at the intersection of the themes of information, learning and work practice.

There is also a body of work that considers information literacy in the context of lifelong learning (Crawford and Irving, 2013). This can be traced back to 2004 and the Scottish Information Literacy Project. To date, however, no other information literacy researchers have presented any frameworks or models of information literacy built around the concept of lifelong learning. This i3 paper addresses the question of how information literacy can be modelled from a lifelong learning perspective, and concludes by presenting a model for such a purpose. This new model of information literacy exposes how practitioners can deliver information capability across the stages of lifelong learning, as well as provides theoretical explanation for how such goals are achieved.

The model has been developed iteratively with reference to a number of extant frameworks and models of information literacy. These include The National Information Literacy Framework (Scotland) , which was developed between 2005 and 2010 by the presenter of this i3 paper. The framework is one of a number of outputs from the Scottish Information Literacy Project that have informed a range of initiatives that includes:

• the development of an information literacy strategy for the Scottish Government (Foreman & Thomson, 2009)
• an information literacy framework for Wales (Head & Jackson, 2001)
• the Open University’s Information and Knowledge at Work (iKnow) project (Reedy, Mallett & Soma, 2013)

Initially The National Information Literacy Framework (Scotland) , linked information literacy skills and competencies in secondary education to those in tertiary education as preparation for the world of work (Crawford & Irving, 2007). As a further development subsequent research projects undertaken by the presenter explored (1) information literacy in the workplace (Irving, 2006; Crawford & Irving, 2009); (2) adult literacy and public library activities with specific reference to employability training (Crawford & Irving, 2012); and (3) information literacy as an early years issue (Irving, 2013). The research findings from these later projects highlighted the importance of information literacy across life stages additional to secondary and tertiary education, and were used to expand and strengthen the National Information Literacy Framework (Scotland). With the application of these findings the National Information Literacy Framework (Scotland) has evolved to treat information literacy as an aspect of lifelong learning (Irving & Crawford, 2007; Irving, 2011).

The approach taken in the development of the framework over the five-year period between 2005 and 2010 was, however, a pragmatic one and very much practitioner-focused. It demonstrated how “information literacy can be viewed as the practitioners’ model for delivering information capability” (Hepworth & Walton, 2013). Therefore, as well as describing the development of the new model from the initial framework, a key focus of this i3 paper to situate the framework within an academic context with reference to well-established theoretical perspectives on information behaviours and use. The new model thus integrates extant knowledge and theoretical perspectives with new insight.

The presentation will explore how concepts of information literacy differ at various points, and highlight strategies for addressing these differences in the delivery of information literacy support. It will take into account the multifaceted nature of information literacy and demonstrate how information literacy takes on new meaning at different stages of lifelong learning, not least because information comes in many different forms. It will examine the need for different types of provision for specific groups, and reveal how information literacy and the patterns of information behaviour in different contexts vary depending on experience and the context of the prevailing information environment in question.

The work will also make reference to a number of recent high-profile, and often idealistic, declarations on the importance of, and necessity for, an information literate population (e.g. Garner, 2006; IFLA, 2014). It will show how these have been handled by information literacy practitioners as tools for advocacy, despite the general problems associated with such documents, as identified by the research community (for example: Pilerot, 2015; Pilerot & Lindberg, 2011).

This paper is aimed at i3 delegates who are researchers and practitioners with interests in:

• how information literacy is relevant beyond formal education settings, and across all aspects of life
• information literacy and the patterns of information behaviour in different contexts
• the social, cultural and economic impact of engagement with information
• the value of information and knowledge as enablers of change in organisations and communities (especially communities of lifelong learners).


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