Information Literacy: Essential Skills for the Information Age ? Information Literacy: Essential Skills

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  • DESIDOC Jl. Lib. Inf. Technol., 2008, 28(2) 39

    DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, Vol. 28, No. 2, March 2008, pp. 39-47 2008, DESIDOC

    Information Literacy: Essential Skills for the Information Age

    Michael B. Eisenberg

    The Information School of the University of WashingtonRoosevelt Commons Building, 4th FloorBox 352840, Seattle, WA 98195-2840

    E-mail:mbe@u.washington.eduhttp://www.ischool.washington.edu/mbe

    ABSTRACT

    Information literacy (IL) is the set of skills and knowledge that allows us to find, evaluate, and usethe information we need, as well as to filter out the information we dont need. IL skills are the necessarytools that help us successfully navigate the present and future landscape of information. Informationand technology affects every person in every possible settingwork, education, recreation. This paperoffers an overview of IL focusing on three contexts for successful IL learning and teaching: (i) theinformation process itself, (ii) technology in context, and (iii) implementation through real needs in realsituations. The author covers conceptual understandings of IL, the range of IL standards and models,technology within the IL framework, and practical strategies for effective IL skills learning and instructionin a range of situations.

    Keywords: IL, Big6, information problem-solving, critical thinking, information technology, research skills,information skills, information process, technology skills.

    1. INFORMATION LITERACY ANDCONTEXT

    Information and technology literacy is clearlythe basic skills set of the 21st century. This iswidely recognised and accepted for all types ofworkersentry level to top executives. For example,in 1991 the US Department of Labors SCANS reportstated that competencies for all entry level employeesmust include the ability to: (i) acquire and useinformation, and (ii) work with a variety of technologies.1This is information and technology literacy for all.

    On the top-end, Peter Drucker, well-knownmanagement guru stated that executives have becomecomputer-literate...but not many executives areinformation literate.2 Drucker is saying that beingable to use computers is not enough. Executivesmust be able to apply computer skills to real situationsand needs. Executives must be able to identify

    information problems and be able to locate, use,synthesise, and evaluate information in relation tothose problems.

    Information and technology affects every personin every possible settingeducation, public service,and business. Education is fundamentally information-based. That is, every aspect of learning and teachingrequires the gathering, processing, and communicationof information. In the past in education, there wasa reliance on one primary information resource: thetextbook. But this is rapidly changing due in largepart to the explosion in information technology andnetworked information. The same is true in publicservicecitizens are increasingly turning to web-based, electronic sources and services for information.And, todays successful companies are those thatfocus on meaningful uses of information and technologyand hire employees who are able to apply technologyto a range of situations.IL services and instruction

  • 40 DESIDOC Jl. Lib. Inf. Technol., 2008, 28(2)

    are essential components of every 21st Centurylibrary and information program. Whether offeringdirect instruction to users, providing skills-basedhelp functions on websites, delivering one-on-one(physical or virtual) assistance, or even providingmeaningful signage in a physical setting, everyinformation and library situation requires helpingusers to succeed through improving their informationskills or understandings. The purpose of any libraryor information organisation is to meet the informationneeds of its users. IL, by ensuring that users areeffective in seeking and using information, is animportant part of fulfilling this purpose.

    This paper offers specific conceptual and practicalstrategies for effective IL skills instruction. In realestate, they talk about the three key elements:location, location, and location. In education, wecan say a similar thing about implementing a meaningfulIL program: context, context, and context.

    There are three essential contexts for successfulIL learning and teaching:

    The information process itself

    Technology in context

    Real needseither work, educational, or personal.

    These contexts are essential for effective ILprograms at any level or with any age group. Theprocess provides a structure for applying skills thatcan seem disconnected; technology within the processgives focus and flexibility; and real needs makesIL relevant and transferable. Individually, when usersare working on a problem, its easy to get lost orconfused. People are in a much better position tosucceed if, at any point in time, they can identifywhere they are in terms of the three contexts:

    Where are they in the information problem-solvingprocess?

    How does technology boost their capabilities interms of specific information skills?

    What is the professional or personal need beingaddressed?

    The remainder of this paper will consider ILwithin each of these contexts in more detail.

    2. CONTEXT #1: THE PROCESS

    Information is a pervasive and essential part ofour society and our lives. Humans are, at theiressence, processors and users of information. Thisis not a recent development. Humans have always

    been dependent upon information to help them makedecisions and guide their actions. Increases in thesheer volume of information and the complexity ofinformation systems, have come about largely becauseof advances in information technology and the acceleratedrate at which we live our lives.IL is the set of skillsand knowledge that not only allows us to find,evaluate, and use the information we need, butperhaps more importantly, allows us to filter outthe information we dont need. IL skills are thenecessary tools that help us successfully navigatethe present and future landscape of information.

    There are a number of different informationskills standards and models that seek to explainthe scope of IL including:

    Carol Kuhlthaus information search process3

    The Big6 approach of Eisenberg and Berkowitz4

    AASL/AECT IL Standards5

    ACRL IL Competency Standards for HigherEducation.6

    Figure 1 is an updated version of various chartsauthored by Eisenberg and others7,8 comparing thesemodels of IL that were developed through research,practice, and committee, respectively. This side-by-side view of IL models shows that there aremany similarities among them. In fact, there ismore agreement than disagreement among the models,as is true of IL research itself. For example, thedriving force behind almost all of the models, andmany of the findings, is processthe understandingthat information skills are not isolated incidents,but rather are connected activities that encompassa way of thinking about and using information.

    My own approach, the Big6, is the most widelyused model in K-12 education, world-wide(www.big6.com). With six major stages and twosub-stages under each, the Big6 covers the fullrange of information problem-solving actions.

    The Big6 is an approach that can be usedwhenever people are faced with an information problemor with making a decision that is based on information.StudentsK-12 through higher educationencountermany information problems related to courseassignments. However, the Big6 is just as applicableto professional or personal life.

    The Big6 Skills comprise a unified set of informationand technology skills (Fig. 2). Taken together, theseskills form a process. The process encompasses

  • DESIDOC Jl. Lib. Inf. Technol., 2008, 28(2) 41

    Figure 1. Comparison of information skills process models.

    the Big6, people learn how to recognize their informationneeds and how to progress through a series ofstages to solve information problems effectivelyand efficiently. Many problem-solving models providea set of specific activities, or outline of isolatedskills. These models may encourage a lockstepstrategy that forces one specific method for problem-solving and decision-making. Like these others,the Big6 approach is systematic; however, it differsin a significant way. Big6 Skills provide a broad-based, logical skill set that can be used as thestructure for developing a curriculum or the frameworkfor a set of distinct problem-solving skills. Thesefundamental skills provide students with a comprehensiveset of powerful skills to conquer the informationage.

    But the Big6 is more than simple a set ofskillsit is also an approach to helping studentslearn the information problem-solving process. Learningmore about the Big6 as a process and as anapproach should make it easier and more usefulfor any instructors and students. For instructors,the Big6 provides a definitive set of skills thatstudents must master in order to be successful inany learning context. Teachers can integrate instructionalmodules or lessons about the Big6 into subjectarea content and assignments. For students, theBig6 provides a guide to dealing with assignmentsand tasks as well as a model to fall back on whenthey are stuck. The Big6 represents metacognitionan awareness by students of their mental statesand processes.

    1. Task Definition1.1 Define the problem1.2 Identify info requirement

    6. Evaluation6.1 Judge the product6.2 Judge the process

    5. Synthesis5.1 Organize5.2 Present

    4. Information use4.1 Engage (read, view, etc.)4.2 Extract info

    3. Location & access3.1 Locate sources3.2 Find Info

    2. Information seekingstrategies

    2.1 Determine range sources

    2.2 Prioritize sources

    1. Accessesinformation

    efficientlyand effectively.

    2. Evaluatesinformation criticallyand competently

    3. Uses information accuratelyand

    creatively

    1. Determine the nature and extent of theinformation needed

    3. Evaluates sources critically

    2. Accesses neededinformation effectively andefficiently

    5. Accesses and usesinformation ethically and legally

    3. Evaluates informationcritically

    5. Understands many ofthe economic legal and social issuessurrounding the use of info

    3. Incorporates selectedinfo. into his or herknowledge base andvalue system

    5. Individually or as a member of a group uses informationeffectively to accomplish a specific purpose

    1. Initiation2. Selection

    4. Formulation(of focus)

    3. Explor-ation(Investiga-te info on the general topic)

    5. Collect-ion(gather info on the focussedtopic)

    6. Presentation

    7. Assessment (of outcome/process)

    Kuhlthau information seeking

    Eisenberg/Berkowitz Information Problem-Solving (The Big6 Skills)

    AASL/AECT Information Literacy Standards

    ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards

    1. Task Definition1.1 Define the problem1.2 Identify info requirement

    6. Evaluation6.1 Judge the product6.2 Judge the process

    5. Synthesis5.1 Organize5.2 Present

    4. Information use4.1 Engage (read, view, etc.)4.2 Extract info

    3. Location & access3.1 Locate sources3.2 Find Info

    2. Information seekingstrategies

    2.1 Determine range sources

    2.2 Prioritize sources

    1. Accessesinformation

    efficientlyand effectively.

    2. Evaluatesinformation criticallyand competently

    3. Uses information accuratelyand

    creatively

    1. Determine the nature and extent of theinformation needed

    3. Evaluates sources critically

    2. Accesses neededinformation effectively andefficiently

    5. Accesses and usesinformation ethically and legally

    3. Evaluates informationcritically

    5. Understands many ofthe economic legal and social issuessurrounding the use of info

    3. Incorporates selectedinfo. into his or herknowledge base andvalue system

    5. Individually or as a member of a group uses informationeffectively to accomplish a specific purpose

    1. Initiation2. Selection

    4. Formulation(of focus)

    3. Explor-ation(Investiga-te info on the general topic)

    5. Collect-ion(gather info on the focussedtopic)

    6. Presentation

    7. Assessment (of outcome/process)

    Kuhlthau information seeking

    Eisenberg/Berkowitz Information Problem-Solving (The Big6 Skills)

    AASL/AECT Information Literacy Standards

    ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards

  • 42 DESIDOC Jl. Lib. Inf. Technol., 2008, 28(2)

    From experience and research, we found thatsuccessful Big6 information problem-solving doesrequire completing each stage at some point intime: defining the task; selecting, locating, andusing appropriate information sources; pulling the

    information together; and deciding that the task isin fact completed. However the stages do not needto be completed in any particular order or in anyset amount of time. A stage can be repeated orrevisited a number of times. Sometimes a stage iscompleted with little effort, while at other times astage is difficult and time consuming.

    From experience and research, we found thatsuccessful information problem-solving does requirecompleting each stage at some point in time: definingthe task; selecting, locating, and using appropriateinformation sources; pulling the information together;and deciding that the task is in fact completed.However, the Big6 is not linear and prescriptive.Its not necessary to complete the stages in order,however all the stages must be completed for overallsuccess.

    Figure 3 illustrates that the Big6 is not necessarilya linear, step-by-step process. For example, imaginethat after a team has defined a task and decidedon their information seeking strategies in terms ofthree specific sources, they find them unavailable.

    Figure 2. The Big6.9

    Figure 3. The Big6 as a feedback process.

    1. Task Definition1.1 Define the problem1.2 Identify the information needed

    2. Information seeking strategies2.1 Determine all possible sources2.2 Select the best sources

    3. Location and Access3.1 Locate sources3.2 Find information within sources

    4. Use of Information4.1 Engage (e.g., read, hear, view)4.2 Extract relevant information

    5. Synthesis5.1 Organise information from multiple sources5.2 Present information

    6. Evaluation6.1 Judge the result (effectiveness)6.2 Judge the process (efficiently)

  • DESIDOC Jl. Lib. Inf. Technol., 2008, 28(2) 43

    In that case, they would loop back to informationseeking strategies to reformulate their plans. Or,suppose when compiling a report (synthesis), amanager isnt sure if he/she has done everythingrequired. Here, he/she would jump back to taskdefinition to review the problem and requirements.The point is to be flexible and able to move backand forth in the process, but to be able to do whatis essential in each stage.

    From a learning perspective, knowing whereyou are in a process is very helpful for anyone. Ithelps to know whats been completed and what isstill to do. When working on an assignment, project,report, or even an information problem of personalinterest, users should be able to identify wherethey are in the process. For example, are theyreading an article related to current events? ThatsUse of Information, Big6 #4. Are they searching forsources using a periodical database or search engine?Thats Big6 #3, Location & Access.

    From a teaching perspective, its important toanchor instructional and learning experiences relatedto information and technology skills instruction withinthe information process. For example, teachingPowerPoint for organizing and presenting oralpresentationsthats Synthesis, Big6 #5. Workingwith users to determine the most appropriate andavailable sources for a projectthat thats InformationSeeking Strategies, Big6 #2.

    Connecting instruction of individual skills ortechniques within the overall Big6 process providesusers with a familiar reference point. They see thelinks among seemingly separate skills and are ableto reflect on what came before and anticipate whatcomes after.

    Therefore, we recommend continually workingwith users to help them recognize where they arein the process. Some ways that educators can dothis is by:

    Identifying for users the various information processstages as they go through to complete anassignment, project, report, or even to make apersonal decision

    Using a narrative or self-reflection to point outthe Big6 related to the actions of one or morecharacters

    Modeling information process recognition bypointing out when they themselves are engagingin a particular information stage

    Asking users, verbally or in writing, to identifywhich information stage they are working on

    Some would call this a metacognitive approach.The Big6 (or any other process model) gives studentsa vocabulary to describe process and become moreself-aware. By continually emphasizing a processcontext, users learn to recognize their own stylesas well as their strengths and weaknesses. Theyalso have a model to fall back on should they getstuck or have difficulties.

    3. CONTEXT #2: TECHNOLOGY FORINFORMATION PROBLEM-SOLVING

    There seems to be increasing understandingamong educators as well as in the general publicthat technological proficiency is more than simplyknowing particular set of commands or even howto use a particular type of software. We want studentsto use technology flexibly and creatively. We wantthem to be able to size up a task, recognize howtechnology might help them to fulfill the task, andthen use the technology to do so. People need tobe able to use computers for a purpose.

    Helping peopleespecially studentslearn toapply technology in these ways requires a changein the way computer skills are traditionally taught.It means moving from teaching isolated computerskills to teaching integrated information and technologyskills. From an IL perspective, that means integratingcomputer skills within the information problem-solvingprocess. Individual computer skills take on a newmeaning when they are integrated within a process,and students develop true computer literacy becausethey have genuinely applied various computer andtechnology skills as part of learning.

    Moving from teaching isolated computer skillsto helping people learn integrated information andtechnology skills is not just a good ideaits essentialif we are to put users in a position to succeed inan increasingly complex and changing world. Druckerspoint about executives not being information literate(see endnote 2) is still true today. Being able touse computers is not enough. Executives all mustbe able to apply computer skills to real situationsand needs. Executives must be able to identifyinformation problems and be able to locate, use,synthesize, and evaluate information in relation tothose problems. These same needs exist for allpeople living in an information society.

    There are many good reasons for moving fromteaching isolated computer skills to teaching integrated

  • 44 DESIDOC Jl. Lib. Inf. Technol., 2008, 28(2)

    information and technology skills. Technology ischanging at a breath-taking pace and will continueto do so for the foreseeable future. Bill Gates oncesaid (National Educational Computing Conference,1996) that computing power has increased 1 milliontimes over the past 20 years and will likely do soagain in the next 20 years!

    A million times more powerful. Will learningisolated specific skills such as word processing,electronic spreadsheets, and even World Wide Websearching suffice? Clearly not. Will learning to usewhatever technologies come along to boost ourskills within the overall information problem-solvingprocess? Absolutely! Thats what it means to lookat technology from an information skills perspective.

    Consider a common technologya pencil andpaper. From an information process perspective,how can a pencil and paper help us to be moreproductive? Clearly, a pencil and paper boosts ourability to present information. In the Big6 process,this is Big6 #5synthesis. What are the electronicequivalents of a pencil and paperthe tools thathelp us even more to synthesize? Clearly, theresword processing. Theres also desktop publishing,word processing, desktop publishing, PowerPointand other presentation software programs. All theseare used to organize and present information, Big6 #5.

    Reflect on another common technologya phonebook. The phone book is a tool for accomplishingBig6 #3Location and Access. Electronic equivalentsto the phone book are online library catalogs, periodicaldatabases, and of course, web search engines.

    Any technology can be analyzed in this wayas part of the information problem-solving process.

    Web pages, electronic reference resources, Q&Aservices, are all part of an effective InformationSeeking Strategy (Big6 #2) and when we engagethem and extract relevant information thats Big6#4Use of Information. E-mail, chat, or text messagingis highly useful for linking students with their teachersor with other students for Task Definition activities(Big6 #1), and later for Evaluation (Big6 #6).

    When integrated into the information problem-solving process, these technological capabilitiesbecome powerful information tools for students.Table 1, a summary of how some of todays technologiesfit within the Big6 process and Table 2 flips itaroundconsidering technology within the process.This is the most powerful way to consider technologyas a boost to peoples abilitieswithin the informationproblem-solving process.

    4. CONTEXT #3: REAL NEEDS

    As noted earlier, information is a pervasive andessential part of our society and all our lives. Informationis pervasive, and so are information skills. Therefore,there are many opportunities for teaching and learningthe IL. From research and experience, we knowthat the information skills are best learned in thecontext of real needsschool or personal. Studentstoday, more than ever, want to see connectionsbetween what they are learning and their lives.They want to know how something is relevant. Weneed to take advantage of this and emphasize theapplicability of information skills across environmentsand situations.

    In school settings, the context for IL instructionis the curriculum. In K-12, this includes the subject

    Table 1. Technological capabilities and the Big6

    Use of information4Copy-paste (in various programmes)

    All (particularly Task Definition, Evaluation)1-6E-mail

    Information seeking strategiesUse of information

    24

    Full-text electronic resources

    Location & Access3Search engine

    Location & Access3Online library catalog

    Synthesis5Electronic spreadsheets

    Synthesis5Presentation/Multimedia software

    Evaluation6Spell/grammar checking

    SynthesisUse of information (notetaking)

    54

    Word processing

    DescriptionBig6 StageTechnology

    Use of information4Copy-paste (in various programmes)

    All (particularly Task Definition, Evaluation)1-6E-mail

    Information seeking strategiesUse of information

    24

    Full-text electronic resources

    Location & Access3Search engine

    Location & Access3Online library catalog

    Synthesis5Electronic spreadsheets

    Synthesis5Presentation/Multimedia software

    Evaluation6Spell/grammar checking

    SynthesisUse of information (notetaking)

    54

    Word processing

    DescriptionBig6 StageTechnology

  • DESIDOC Jl. Lib. Inf. Technol., 2008, 28(2) 45

    area units and lessons of study. In higher education,we focus on courses, class topics, and lectures.Most importantly in both, the emphasis should beon the assignments on which students will be evaluated.Throughout the academic year, teachers and studentsengage in a rich range of curriculum subjects, topics,and assignments. In fact, one of the current problemswe face in education is curriculum information overloadtheres just too much to cover in limited time.

    Thats why, in implementing information skillsinstruction, we do not promote adding new curriculumcontent, units, or topics. Theres plenty going onin the curriculum already. The last thing that facultyand students need is more content. Therefore, froman IL perspective, the challenge is to determinegood opportunities for learning and teaching informationskills within the existing curriculum. To do so involvesthe following actions:

    Analyse the curriculum to

    Select topics and assignments which are well-suited to information skills instruction

    Determine which skills are particularly relevantto the selected curriculum topics and assignments.

    Develop a broad plan that links the informationskills program to various curriculum topics

    Design integrated topic and lesson plans toteach information skills in the context of thesubject area curriculum

    We strongly advocate a collaborative approachto information instruction. That is, classroom teachers,librarians, technology teachers, and other educatorscan work together to analyze the curriculum, develop

    a broad plan, and design specific unit and lessonplans that integrate the information skills and classroomcontent. These educators can also collaborate onteaching and assessment.

    Effective information skills instruction startswith selecting existing curriculum units which arebest suited to integrated instruction. In the Big6program, we refer to these units as big juiciesthose information-rich curriculum units that are filledand dripping with Big6 potential. Big juicy unitsare rich in information needs, resources, and processing.These are the units that offer particularly goodopportunities for teaching specific Big6 Skills withinthe overall Big6 process, for example:

    Units or topics that involve a report, project, orproduct rather than those that rely on a test forassessment

    Units that require a range of multiple resourcesrather than only the textbook

    Units that reach a large number of studentsand span a reasonable timeframe.

    The following is an example of how this mightwork in practice. It is on the high school level, butthe same approach can work in elementary or middleschool, higher education, or even in public library,business, or community situations.

    High school biology teacher, Ms Lowe, andlibrary media specialist, Mr Bennett, meet to discusshow they might collaborate to help students improvetheir information problem-solving skills while theystudy biology. They analyze the major units thatMs Lowe plans to teach during the school year, and

    Table 2. The Big6 and Technology

    e-mail, group discussions (listservs, online forums), brainstorming software, chat, videoconferencing, groupware

    Evaluation6

    word processing, desktop publishing, graphics, spreadsheets, database management, presentation software, down/up load, e-journals, blogs, wikis, web-authoring

    Synthesis5

    upload/download, word processing, copy-paste, outliners, spreadsheets, databases (for analysis of data), statistical packages

    Use of information4

    online catalogs, electronic indexes, search engines, browsersLocation & Access3

    online catalogs, info retrieval, networked electronic resources, Intranet), Web resources, digital reference services, online discussin groups, blogs, wikis

    Information seeking strategies 2

    e-mail, group discussions (listservs, online forums), brainstorming software, chat, videoconferencing, groupware

    Task definition1

    TechnologyBig6Stage

    e-mail, group discussions (listservs, online forums), brainstorming software, chat, videoconferencing, groupware

    Evaluation6

    word processing, desktop publishing, graphics, spreadsheets, database management, presentation software, down/up load, e-journals, blogs, wikis, web-authoring

    Synthesis5

    upload/download, word processing, copy-paste, outliners, spreadsheets, databases (for analysis of data), statistical packages

    Use of information4

    online catalogs, electronic indexes, search engines, browsersLocation & Access3

    online catalogs, info retrieval, networked electronic resources, Intranet), Web resources, digital reference services, online discussin groups, blogs, wikis

    Information seeking strategies 2

    e-mail, group discussions (listservs, online forums), brainstorming software, chat, videoconferencing, groupware

    Task definition1

    TechnologyBig6Stage

  • 46 DESIDOC Jl. Lib. Inf. Technol., 2008, 28(2)

    agree that there are three key units because they(i) result in some form or product of project, (ii)require lots of different types of resources, (iii)involve the whole class, and (iv) span more thanjust a week or two. In other words, these threeunits seem to be particularly information-rich, andare perfect candidates for integrated biologyBig6instruction. These are the big juicies:

    The anatomy unit: taught early in the school year,takes three weeks, involves significant use of theWWW, results in individual PowerPoint-supportedoral presentations.

    The circulatory system unit: taught in the secondmarking period, takes two weeks, involves a seriesof worksheets that combine to make a study guide,also requires students to identify structures andfunctions, and to analyse the effect of oxygenationon various other systems (e.g., nervous system,immune system, digestive system).

    The digestive system unit: taught in the third markingperiod, results in group presentations on the digestiveprocess in different animals, and usually involvesextensive information seeking and searching.

    What now? Do they select among these unitsor do they just integrate the Big6 with all three?Do they teach all the Big6 Skills with each unit orfocus on specific information skills?

    These choices depend upon other factors includingthe time available for Big6 instruction and what elseis going on during the school year. We do, however,recommend that while they review and reinforce theoverall Big6 process with each unit, Ms. Lowe andMr. Bennett should provide targeted Big6 Skillsinstruction on one or two of the specific skills. Forexample:

    The anatomy unit relies on PowerPoint and theWeb, so lessons can be taught on both. PowerPointis a synthesis tool, so thats a Big6 #5 lessonfocusing on organising and presenting principlesusing PowerPoint. Lessons on the Web might focuson identifying useful types of websites (InformationSeeking Strategies, Big6 #2), using keyword searchterms (Location & Access, Big6 #3), and recognisingand extracting relevant information, (use of Information,Big6 #4).

    The circulatory system unit might be a goodunit in which to focus on Task Definition, Big6 #1,since each worksheet has a different focus. Theresalso a great deal of targeted analysis, so Use ofInformation, Big6 #4, is again important.

    The digestive system unit is a group projectand comes later in the school year. This would bea good opportunity to review the entire Big6 processwhile emphasizing defining tasks and dividing upthe work (Big6 #1Task Definition) and how to putgroup presentations together so they make senseand flow easily (Big6 #5, Synthesis). Evaluation(Big6 #6) can also play a big role in group projectsas students may be required to judge themselvesand other group members or to assess the finalproducts of other groups.

    In actual school settings, selecting topics forintegrated instruction and overall information skillsplanning depends upon the specific needs of thestudents as well as the setting and situation. Theultimate goal is to provide frequent opportunities forstudents to learn and practice information problem-solving.

    Repetition is crucial. While these skills mayseem to be simple or common sense at first, theyactually are quite involved and can be difficult tomaster. This point cannot be overstressedwe learnthrough repetition. Its not enough to teach a skillor sub-skill once. Students proficiency with specificskills as well as the overall process will improveover timeif they have regular opportunities to learnand to apply the information problem-solving process.

    5. CONCLUSION

    We live in a very complex and often overwhelminginformation world. Information, library, and educationorganizations have a responsibility to do our bestto help people succeed. Our job is to meet peoplesinformation needs. The school librarians say it evenmore boldly and directly: The mission of the schoollibrary media program is to ensure that studentsareeffective users of ideas and information.10 This isan audacious and highly ambitious statementandits right on target.

    Providing services, resources, and facilities isone way that libraries, schools, and other organizationsseek to meet needs. The other way we do so isto teach and to provide opportunities to learn. If wetruly believe that information and technology skillsare essential for success, then we must make surethat people have frequent opportunities to learn andpractice these skills. Systematic planning and deliveryof integrated information skills instruction acrosssettings is essential if we are to make a difference.Itsnot enough to work one-on-one or to offer an isolatedlesson in note taking or Web search engines. Peopleneed lessons in the full range of skills, delivered

  • DESIDOC Jl. Lib. Inf. Technol., 2008, 28(2) 47

    in the contexts of the overall information process,including relevant technologies, and based in real,subject area assignments. Accomplishing comprehensive,integrated IL instruction requires library and informationprofessionals in collaboration with others to makea concerted and systematic effort to plan and deliverprograms in context.

    REFERENCES

    1. Secretarys Commission on Achieving NecessarySkills (SCANS). What work requires of schools:A SCANS report for America 2000. (US GovernmentPrinting Office) Washington, DC 1991, p. vxii.

    2. Drucker, P. Be data literateknow what to know.Wall Street Journal, 1992, 12(1), A16.

    3. Kuhlthau, Carol C. Seeking meaning: A processapproach to library and information services.Ablex Publishing, Norwood, NJ, 1993.

    4. Eisenberg, M. & Berkowitz, R. Information problem-solving: The big six skills approach to library& information skills instruction. Ablex, Norwood,NJ, 1990. http://www.big6.com.

    5. American Library Association and Associationfor Educational Communications and Technology.Information power: Building partnerships for learning.American Library Association, Chicago, 1998.

    6. Association of College and Research Libraries.Information literacy competency standards forhigher education. American Library Association,Chicago, 2000. http://www.ala.org/acrl/ilcomstan.html.

    7. Eisenberg, M. & Brown, M. Current themesregarding library and information skills instruction:Research supporting and research lacking. SchoolLibrary Media Quarterly, 1992, 20(2), 103-09.

    8. Eisenberg, Lowe & Spitzer. Information literacy:Essential skills for the information age. LibrariesUnlimited, Westport, CT, 2004, pp. 39-42.

    9. Eisenberg, M. A Big6 skills overview, 2006.http://www.big6.com/showarticle.php?id=16.

    10. American Library Association and Associationfor Educational Communications and Technology.Information power: Building partnerships for learning.American Library Association, Chicago, 1998, p. 1.

    Dr Mike Eisenberg, a leading scholar in information literacy programme development andresearch, is the founding dean of the Information School at the University of Washington,serving from 1998 to 2006. During his tenure, Mike transformed the unit from a single graduatedegree programme into a broad-based information school with a wide range of research andacademic programmes.

    Mike is also widely known for his work in information literacy including creating (with BobBerkowitz) the Big6 approach. He has worked with thousands of people in education, business,government, libraries, and communities to improve their information and technology skills.Mikes current efforts focus on information literacy, the expanding role of libraries, andinformation science education K-20.

    About the Author