Adult User Education/Module 6

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The Future of Information Literacy


In our last module, our topic will be the future of information literacy. Over the course of the semester, we have gone from discussing the history of bibliographic instruction's change to information literacy, to an identification of the adult user and ways to develop instruction programs specific to these users, and finally to ideas of the implications and considerations of diversity and technology within a library program geared for adults. Now it's only fitting that we take a short time to consider the future implications of information literacy for the adult user who is also a lifelong learner.

The Future of Information Literacy

The textbook reading for this module outlines an overview of our topic by discussing:

  • the changing concept of information literacy
  • how content for instructional programs may need to change
  • the idea of assessment based upon possible future needs
  • professional development
  • and the possibilities for restructuring libraries

While our text discusses a move to create more discipline specific standards for information literacy, the papers by Ward and Campbell suggest that a broadening of the term, or the definition of the term, may actually be what is in order. Ward also suggests that providing a more holistic educational opportunity when instructing for information literacy will create users who are able to interact with information in a more satisfying and useful manner. These suggestions build upon the idea of creating more lifelong learners by providing ways for our users to engage more firmly with the ideas and topics that they study and research.

Understanding how users understand information, as well as the many different pathways they take to obtain information, will inform us of changes that need to be made in our instructional content and delivery methods. Our text also addresses the continuing need for education in the areas of proper use, sharing, and citing of information within an environment in which dispersal of information is continuously in flux, something that Westbrook's article from over 8 years ago makes very clear as we look back upon the changes we have experienced since its date of publication.

Exploration of new ways to assess the effectiveness of our instruction will become important not only for the immediate goal of serving our users, but also for a wider goal of changing political and societal norms around standardized testing as a measure of knowledge. In addition, our professional development will most likely tend to shift to a more global view of information literacy needs and education, as the world around us becomes more and more accessible by individuals of every occupation, lifestyle, and location. Campbell's article discusses some of the possibilities for serving such a diverse group and how we will apply and/or change our views on what information literacy is in the 21st century, a new vision which is articulated well by the World Summit on the Information Society in their Plan of Action:

". . . to build a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society, where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge, enabling individuals, communities and peoples to achieve their full potential in promoting their sustainable development and improving their quality of life . . ."

What this does is pass a large responsibility those of us dedicated to educating the adult user to become literate in a world information society. ACRL has provided some guidance for the kinds of skills that will be needed to start us on our way, but in the end, we will each have to make a conscious decision to incorporate the skills and habits that we teach to our adult users into our own lives, and to become lifelong learners ourselves.

Intents and Purposes

My intent for this last module is to provide a glimpse of what lays before us as we begin to move through the 21st century. I hope that we can share ideas in our discussion of ways to meet these challenges, as well as ways to keep abreast of the rapid and continual change that will most likely also increase in complexity.

In our blog entry for this last module, I would like you to share reflections over the entirety of the course. Please share your feelings about the content, interaction, assignments, and overall experience you have had this semester with us!

Back or Continue to Module 6 Objectives & Readings