Information literacy is extensively defined as a set of abilities that require an individual to recognize, locate, analyze and use efficiently information in academic studies, personal lives and in workplaces. With technological advancement, there are numerous and abundant choices of information specially on social media, modern libraries and the internet. As such, information is often reachable in unfiltered formats, multiple media formats such as aural, graphical and textual formats. This raises the question of validity, authenticity and reliability of facts as well as whether individuals possess the complementary skills required to understand and use such information effectively. Information fluency focuses on an individual’s deep understanding of the precise information and the skill he or she possesses to use it. It requires more advanced intellectual abilities through critical reasoning and discernment.
The sole purpose of higher education is to develop lifelong learners and information literacy and fluency is one of the vital components of achieving this purpose. This prompted the need to have Competency Standards that provide a framework on assessment of an information literate student or individual. The standards assist librarians and the faculty to identify specific indicators in a student that reveal information literacy. They also assist students and individuals since they provide a framework that aids in gaining control over their interaction with information. The standards however differ based on the competencies but the aim of the standards remain the same that is to achieve information literacy and fluency in the field of education. The standards focus on student needs at all levels of higher education and also provide a range of outcomes applicable when assessing the progress of students towards achieving information literacy. Implementation of the standards requires that institutions of higher education recognize the different levels of thinking that are associated with the different learning outcomes. “There are five standards adopted in institutions to identify information literate students (Bobbi, 2010).” First, the ability of a student to determine the nature as well as the extent of information that is required. Second, ability to access such information efficiently and effectively. Third, the ability to critically incorporate selected information into a student’s knowledge base and eventually his value system. Fourth, the ability to use information effectively with an aim of achieving a specific purpose wither individually or as a group member. Fifth, the ability to understand the social-economic issues that surround the use of information and to acess it ethically and legally.
Areas of Information Literacy that can be improved
Evaluation of Websites
Technological advancement has had a great impact in the field of education especially because it has improved efficiency in research and availability of information on the internet and social media. The only challenge has been the ability to discern and analyze information to ensure that it is in fact reliable and authentic. It is therefore important for faculties and institution to provide students with up to date research tools and appropriate methods of locating, evaluating and using information from internet sources. Plagiarism software are also important in institutions to address dishonest conduct of students and substantially reduce copying of unacknowledged internet generated information.
Therefore for a student to ensure that they make good use of internet sources and information from websites to become good researchers and to be termed as information literate students when delivering to audiences, it is important to pay attention to a number of aspects. It is necessary to identify the author and research whether the person possesses expertise in the field or whether they are cited in other areas. Also, it is important to critically analyze the target audience and whether the information appropriately addresses the audience as well as its relevance to the research. It is equally important to evaluate the accuracy of the information either through accessing the cited sources or research methodologies employed and the currency of the information. Lastly and most importantly, a student has to access whether the information promotes biased viewpoints or based on personal opinions and the impact it would have in the information the student relies on in their research.
American Library Association. (2000). Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/standards/standards.pdf
Bobbi Newman, Tom Ipri, & Anthony Molaro. (2010, March 3). Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education | Libraries and Transliteracy. Retrieved from https://librariesandtransliteracy.wordpress.com/2010/03/03/information-literacy-competency-standards-for-higher-education/