This week on the SLIC staff blog we talk to Literary Project Manager Amanda Joykin on the progress being made creating an Information Literacy Toolkit.

 

It’s been four months since I started work on developing the Information Literacy Toolkit and a good time to provide an update on what’s taken place so far. Putting my Info Lit hat on (which is almost never off, so it was more of an adjustment of said hat) I identified my information need for the project.

I needed to find out how the toolkit could support teaching IL skills to children and young people in schools. I wanted to meet school librarians that were already delivering IL sessions and it was important to find out about the barriers faced with regards to IL delivery in their schools. Meeting and gathering insights from experienced educators and those new to the profession would be very valuable in informing the direction of the toolkit.

Information Gathering

The first step was to send out a survey to schools in Scotland - Primary, Secondary and Additional Support Needs. The aim of the survey was to get a better idea about the state of IL provision. Follow-up visits and phone calls were arranged to find out more about how schools delivered sessions, what challenges they faced, examples of good practice and how the toolkit could support them.

It was a real pleasure visiting school librarians, finding out about the various settings in which they worked and how they promoted reading for pleasure and information literacy skills. There is great work being done and yet there are significant challenges faced by library staff in schools. 

I would like to thank everyone for their insights and for helping the toolkit take shape. The toolkit just wouldn’t be possible without your input – it is being made for you, with you.

Findings & Challenges

Key findings from the survey and visits were focused around themes of resources and communication. School library settings are very varied, and this has had an impact on the way school libraries are run. However, factors like time, budget and training were all mentioned as areas which are having an impact on IL provision.

The relationship with the School Management Team is also key. Could we forge stronger relationships with them if we thought more about the terminology we use? Should we be promoting information literacy skills but with more emphasis on links with the Experiences and Outcomes of the Curriculum for Excellence?

For IL skills to really take root relevance is crucial. It needs to be made clear that it is a lifelong learning skill and not just for research. Research from the 5Rights Foundation has shown that the age of children using mobile devices to access information is getting younger. Should we be looking at starting formal IL instruction at a younger age?

Identified Gaps

IL delivery at the start of young people’s formal learning journey appears to be inconsistent, so it has been difficult to gauge its true extent. Respondents from primary schools indicated that there was either no IL delivery, that they were unaware of whether it was being delivered or that they thought that some teachers were delivering IL. Some responses also indicated that there was a lack of understanding of the term “information literacy” or that it was already taught in schools but not under that specific term. Experiences and Outcomes from the Curriculum of Excellence do align with IL principles which would imply that IL instruction is taking place in an embedded way. All respondents to the survey stated that they thought it was important for there to be IL provision in schools.

Best practice and support are always improved when there is good communication and SLIC has already set-up a School Libraries group on Basecamp to start conversations going. It’s hoped this will lead to further sharing of ideas.

IL as Lifelong Learning Skill

Based on the information gathered about IL sessions in schools, a lot of programmes are focused on library skills and research skills. Sessions are being taught on online safety and privacy, fake news, disinformation, copyright and it would be good practice to use CILIP’s (2018) IL contexts and ensure that a holistic approach is taken when delivering this to young people. For example, including critical thinking, health literacy and digital citizenship, to ensure that students understand the relevance and significance of these lessons to their personal lives.

Aims of the Toolkit

Based on the information gathered a draft Toolkit structure has been created and resources are currently being compiled. These resources will include guidance/tips for staff, examples of good practice, activities, lesson plans, research articles, IL frameworks, videos and ideas for taking different approaches to IL delivery in schools. However, there is still work and research to be done; IL teaching in ASN school settings, IL skills that employers value and bridging the gap between ‘what students are taught in school to real-world issues, problems, and applications; learning experiences should mirror the complexities and ambiguities of real life.’ (ACEL, 2016).