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Information Literacy Tools @ Pitt: Other Literacies

This guide takes an advanced look at integrating information literacy into library instruction sessions for students.

Traditional Literacy

Traditional literacy is defined as "the quality of being literate; knowledge of letters; condition in respect to education, esp. ability to read and write" (OED Online, "literacy," 2nd ed.).

According to the CIA World Factbook, 83.7% of the world is literate - literate meaning anyone age 15 or older who can read and write (2012).

Alphabetic literacy is still extremely important and a major focus in schools, public libraries, and organizations like the Library of Congress.

Traditional literacy is the building block for all other literacies; without it, they would be impossible to master.

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PowerPoints and Documents

The information in this guide is based on information in a series of presentations and documents associated with an Information Literacy Workshop presented by the ULS Information Literacy and Assessment Working Group.

21st Century Literacies

1. Library instruction/information Literacy

  • Set of abilities requiring individuals to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information" (ALA)
  • First introduced in 1974
  • Commonly addressed in academic libraries

2. Visual Literacy

  • Ability to construct meaning from visual images
  • Ability to think, learn, and express oneself in terms of images
  • Making judgements on accuracy, validity, and worth of images

3. Media Literacy

  • "Provides a framework to access, analyze, evaluate, and create messages in a variety of forms - from print to video to the Internet. Media literacy builds an understanding of the role of media in society as well as essential skills of inquiry and self-expression necessary for citizens of a democracy" (Center for Media Literacy)
  • Participatory culture
    • Low barriers for engagement
    • Strong support for sharing creations with others
    • Informal mentorship
    • Members believe contributions matter
    • Care about others' opinions of self and work
    • Social connection with one another

4. Technology Literacy

  • Can encompass digital literacy, computer literacy, etc.
  • As simple as using a PC or writing an email or as advanced as data-analysis or manipulating hardware
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Literacy
    • Use digital technology and communication networks for problem solving and critical thinking
    • iSkills: define, access, evaluate, manage, integrate, create, communicate, use technology ethically

5. Network Literacy

  • Have an understanding of the system by which networked information is generated
  • Can retrieve specific types of information from the network using a range of information discovery tools
  • Can use networked information to analyze and resolve both work and personal related decisions
  • McClure, C.R. "Network Literacy in an Electronic Society: An Educational Disconnect?" Annual Review of the Institute of Information Studies, the Knowledge Economy Queenstown, MD: Aspen Institute: 193, 160.

6. Cultural Literacy

  • "The ability to analyze and understand a particular society or culture; familiarity with the customs and characteristics of a culture" (OED Online, "cultural," 2nd ed.)
  • Understand that culture impacts their behaviors and beliefs, and the behavior and beliefs of others
  • Are aware of specific cultural beliefs, values, and sensibilities that might affect the way that they and others think or behave
  • Appreciate and accept diverse beliefs, appearances, and lifestyles
  • Are aware of the similarities between groups of different cultural backgrounds and is accepting of differences between them
  • Understand the dangers of stereotyping and other biases; are aware of and sensitive to issues of racism and prejudice
  • Are familiar with existing cultural norms of new technology environments (instant messaging, virtual workspaces, email) and are able to interact successfully in such environments

Potential Pitfalls of 21st Century Literacies

1. Digital divide - can't assume that all students have 24/7 access to technology

2. Transparency - students might not have the right vocabulary, an environment where information is out there for everyone to see and access

3. Ethical challenges - ownership/authorship, working with someone else's text or media

Implications for Libraries

1. Not a radical change - we are already familiar with these literacies because of social networking, using media, and instructing students on how to access electronic resources

2. Education on ethical issues and participatory challenges - offer guidance and coaching on how to behave and use the tools to survive in a digital world

3. Unique opportunity to embrace and encourage 21st century literacies through instruction, reference, and collection development

Tools for Integrating Other Literacies into Instruction

  • Video hosting (visual, media, technology, network)
    • YouTube, Metacafe
  • Photosharing (visual, cultural)
    • Flickr, Photobucket
  • Wikis (media, technology, cultural)
    • PBWiki, Wetpaint
  • Blogs (media, technology, cultural)
    • Blogger, Wordpress
  • Tag clouds (visual, cultural, technology)
    • Wordle, Tagcrowd, Bubbl

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