DIL/Development of DIL definition (DoDD)

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Starting Information

Some progress in creating a definition for Australasia has already been made as a result of the research project.

Definition to be used in the report

Digital Information Literacy is the ability to recognise the need for, access, and evaluate electronic information. The digitally literate can confidently use, manage, create, quote and share sources of digital information in an effective way. The way in which information is used, created and distributed demonstrates an understanding and acknowledgement of the cultural, ethical, economic, legal and social aspects of information.

The digitally literate demonstrate openness, the ability to problem solve, to critically reflect, technical capability and a willingness to collaborate and keep up to date prompted by the changing contexts in which they use information. (DIL project, 2009.)


Recognise the importance of formats and standards compliance, e.g. open document formats. Layers of literacy, entry level, middle and advanced and often people do not worry about information in relation to others.

The skills and attributes around creating digital information, that is, the how. It is a matter of awareness and degree of awareness - when are you DIL and when are you not. Is DIL about the appropriate level so a person is using information in a way which is fit for purpose. Dispositions have to be flexible to change with the dynamic environment we are operating in. May need to upskill.

A starting definition for digital information literacy (DIL) was previously developed as part of creating content for a DIL module in the OIL (Online Information Literacy) modules project. This definition included three categories:

  • access;
  • interpret;
  • create.

The categories were developed from the six ANZIIL standards. They also took into account definitions from two other areas:

1. The American Library Association, 2006 - Information Literacy is defined as the lifelong ability to recognise the need for, to locate, evaluate and effectively use information.

2. The 21st Century Digital Information Fluency (DIF) project and model.

"Digital Information Fluency (DIF) is the ability to find, evaluate and use digital information effectively, efficiently and ethically. DIF involves knowing how digital information is different from print information; having the skills to use specialized tools for finding digital information; and developing the dispositions needed in the digital information environment."

Wikiversity material was developed later.

Some terms used in the field

These were prepared by Dawn. All these terms connect to Digital Information Literacy.

Overview Here is a link from Mexico which sums up a lot of what we are looking at. [1] It begins with definitions of "information " and "literacy" and links to lifelong learning. An interesting reference with similarities to our three part definition is included. This is attributed to Jamie Mackenzie known for the "fromnowon" web site [2]. The variant quoted is "prospecting, interpreting and creating".

  • Literacy - (Oriel and Lisa) We quite like the definition of the Centre for Literacy of Quebec: Literacy is a complex set of abilities needed to understand and use the dominant symbol systems of a culture – alphabets, numbers, visual icons - for personal and community development. It's more than reading, writing, it's interpretation of a set of symbols in order to develop.

  • Information Literacy - (Oriel and Lisa) - This has to be the starting point for our definition, because we are looking at a particular aspect of information literacy. ANZIIL standards. Ususally defined as something like: The ability to access, evaluate, organise and use information in order to learn, problem-solve, make decisions - in formal and informal learning contexts, at work, at home and in educational settings.(Bruce 2003)

or there is: the ability to navigate through an information space, locate and retrieve relevant information resources through systematic and thorough investigation; employ thoughtful study and rational reflection on the information found and apply the information in useful contexts (Stern, 2002).

And we found

Digital information literacy Digital information literacy can be defined as the ability to understand and use information in multiple formats from a wide variety of networked computer sources and it involves the skill of deciphering multimedia images, sounds and text (Gilster, 1997; Lanham, 1995).

  • Digital Literacy - (Merrolee) - This term could be wider than what we want as it could include technical knowledge of digital devices which is not necessarily a part of DIL. It does not have IL as its starting point.
  • Digital - (Merrolee)- Digital describes electronic technology that generates, stores, and processes data in terms of two states: positive and non-positive. Positive is expressed or represented by the number 1 and non-positive by the number 0. Thus, data transmitted or stored with digital technology is expressed as a string of 0's and 1's. Each of these state digits is referred to as a bit (and a string of bits that a computer can address individually as a group is a byte).

Prior to digital technology, electronic transmission was limited to analog technology, which conveys data as electronic signals of varying frequency or amplitude that are added to carrier waves of a given frequency. Broadcast and phone transmission has conventionally used analog technology. Digital technology is primarily used with new physical communications media, such as satellite and fiber optic transmission. A modem is used to convert the digital information in your computer to analog signals for your phone line and to convert analog phone signals to digital information for your computer. (reference: http://www.google.co.nz/search?hl=en&defl=en&q=define:Digital&sa=X&oi=glossary_definition&ct=title) another definition: 1. Expressed in numerical form, especially for use by a computer. 2. Computer Science Of or relating to a device that can read, write, or store information that is represented in numerical form. (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/digital)

Today, digital is synonymous with computer (http://www.pcmag.com/encyclopedia_term/0,2542,t%253Ddigital%2526i%253D41280,00.asp)

  • Computer Literacy - (Oriel and Lisa) - This could be similar to digital literacy, but it may relate only to computers and not to other digital devices such as camera and mobile phones.

Has been defined as:demonstrated ability to use technology to access, manipulate, evaluate, use and present information.

or a functional knowledge of the use and application of computers, from word processing to data management. (Free Dictionary defintion)

or: Simonson, Maurer, Montag-Torardi & Whitaker (1987) who define computer literacy as: “An understanding of computer characteristics, capabilities and applications, as well as an ability to implement this knowledge in the skilful and productive use of computer applications suitable to the individual roles in society. (p. 232)”

These all suggest more than just using computers. It's why you need to use them that's important.

  • Internet Literacy - (Dawn) This would appear to be a subset of DIL. DIL is not only concerned with the internet but also with the use of digital applications and devices which are not necessarily internet based.

The Council Of Europe material relating to Internet Literacy provides an overview of what is considered, by the Internet Literacy Handbook compilers, to be its components. These range from developing understanding of portals, spam and security through to practical advice on distance learning, shopping on line, music and images and a host of other facets of internet literacy - 21 in all. The introductory paragraphs are quoted here to allow us to consider their rationale for developing the fact sheets and promoting "internet literacy". It is found at [[3]]

In the space of only a decade or so, the Internet has revolutionised the way we work, learn and play. Traditional literacy skills are no longer sufficient for those who wish to take advantage of the opportunities and avoid the pitfalls presented by the Internet. Indeed, the lack of basic information literacy skills is as much a factor of the so-called digital divide as the lack of material technology.

These new skills are rapidly becoming a prerequisite for the active participation of citizens in democratic society - one of the corner stones of the Integrated Project “Making democratic institutions work” which has developed the fact sheets below in cooperation with the media and education sectors of the Council of Europe, experts in the various fields related to information literacy, as well as the European Commission.

There are different versions available. In one set of fact sheets - Educational benefits, Ethical Considerations and risks, How to and Best Practice are considered.

Another version found at [4] is directed at parents and teachers and includes classroom ideas.

  • Digital Network Literacy - (Dawn/Leigh) -

The following is taken from the Power of design in flexible learning (PDFL) project.

Digital network literacy - while still emerging as a new form of literacy, may be defined by the following statement: "...the set of abilities and skills where aural, visual and digital literacy overlap. These include the ability to understand the power of images and sounds, to recognize and use that power, to manipulate and transform digital media, to distribute them pervasively, and to easily adapt them to new forms" (The New Media Consortium (2004). A global imperative: The report of the 21st Century literacy summit.

  • Multimedia Literacy - (Bron) - This is another subset of DIL. It intersects with internet literacy, but is both less than and more than internet literacy.

Here is some information from Wikipedia about Multimedia literacy.

Multimedia is media that utilizes several different content forms to convey information. Several are already a part of the canon of global communication and publication: (text, audio, graphics, animation, video, and interactivity). Multimedia mainly but not exclusively refers to electronic media because content forms such as audio recordings and video footage are delivered electronically.

While looking for information about multimedia literacy, I came across this information on Wikipedia about Another conception of information literacy:

Since information may be presented in a number of formats, the term information applies to more than just the printed word. Other literacies such as visual, media, computer, network, and basic literacies are implicit in information literacy.

Digital Strategy

The New Zealand Draft 2.0 Digital Strategy is available online at [5]

The key aspects identified are:

• New digital environment • Confidence • Content • Collaboration • Achieving our digital potential

This draft includes postings relating to the consultation phase which has now ended. Be sure to follow the “next section” links at the top of the pages or you will miss the more detailed information

Links to potentially important aspects for our project include:

Enabling Confidence [6]

Enabling content [7]

Enabling collaboration [8]

Enabling collaboration – Maori aspect [9] The latter provides comments from interested parties with reference to Maori and Information Literacy.

Skills for Digital Information Literacy

(Bron to start us off in this section) This relates to the dispositions required for DIL and includes confidence/self-efficacy. As suggested by Jenny, some guidelines for the skills needed to be digitally information literate would be helpful.

ANZIIL standards

This is the top level of the ANZIIL standards used to support the OIL modules. The principles frame six core standards which underpin information literacy acquisition,understanding and application by an individual. These standards identify that the information literate person: 1. recognises the need for information and determines the nature and extent of the information needed.

2. finds needed information effectively and efficiently

3. critically evaluates information and the information seeking process

4. manages information collected or generated

5. applies prior and new information to construct new concepts or create new understandings

6. uses information with understanding and acknowledges cultural, ethical, economic, legal and social issues surrounding the use of information

Standards from the American Library Association

These are the top level standards which can be compared with the ANZIIL standards.

Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education

These standards were reviewed by the ACRL Standards Committee and approved by the Board of Directors of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) on January 18, 2000, at the Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association in San Antonio, Texas. These standards were also endorsed by the American Association for Higher Education (October 1999) and the Council of Independent Colleges (February 2004).

  • Standard One

The information literate student determines the nature and extent of the information needed.

  • Standard Two

The information literate student accesses needed information effectively and efficiently.

  • Standard Three

The information literate student evaluates information and its sources critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system.

  • Standard Four

The information literate student, individually or as a member of a group, uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose.

  • Standard Five

The information literate student understands many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and accesses and uses information ethically and legally.

Detail about the ALA Standards can be found in this document.

Suggestions and ideas

Put your starting thoughts around the DIL definition here.

Ideas from Dawn

I think we need to sort out the Information Literacy basis for the definition first giving it a firm underpinning, then the digital aspect which should emerge as a subset of that, can be tackled. Although it is possible that we might identify that the standards, largely developed without a digital focus, may have gaps because of the changing nature of information literacy.

The wikieducator DIL pages created for the OIL modules refer to the American definitions and standards for Information Literacy. The OIL modules (except for the DIL module) used the ANZIIL definitions and standards. We have picked up some words “access, interpret and create” which relate to some aspects of the standards and used them to guide our approach. They don’t directly come from either recognised set of standards.

In looking at the similar but differing definitions, and arising from my experience in the project, I feel more inclined towards the ANZIIL standards. Standard 4 “……. manages information collected and generated” brings in an element which I think has been important in the project hence the setting up of Google Reader, Igoogle etc . This aspect is difficult to find in the American standards. We may have to stretch our interpretations of the chosen words in order to include this element too. I would favour “evaluate and use” which are in the original DIL material and equated with “interpret and create”

Ideas from Jenny

In terms of the definition of DIL...I think a big part of it is being being confident to know how to approach something new in the digital domain. What makes someone confident?

Could we identify some standard groups of skills?? This could be very hard..!!** but could be something that the groups could help us with?

What are the basic skills? For example.. navigating directory trees? basic browser management? Understanding menu settings, bookmarks, feed managers? copy, paste and right click menus? understanding e-mail...pop, imap and smtp? security issues: phishing scams, extra security steps, username and password good practice (recent incident @ otago springs to mind) ?

These are just ideas off the top of my head. Not sure if they are really basic?

Can we identify a set of basic skills that stand one in good stead when approaching a new task in the digital domain?

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that unless we can make concrete what DIL is, we run the risk of having a vague notion/definition that is less than helpful.

Conversely, there is a danger that the basics end up being prescriptive ..look at basic literacy.

Is a literate person: A) someone who does not dangle their prepositions? B) someone who can spell C) someone who reliably places commas and apostrophes? D) someone who can write and understand "Standard English"? E) someone who can reliably understand and be understood?

The trick, it seems to me, is to be able to understand what makes a person an E) without too dogged adherence to A, B, C and D.

It is perfectly possible to fail to be an A), B), and C) and yet still be an E).

Perfectly possible too to be a D) yet fail to convey any real meaning (Colloquially a bore....)


Some recent web findings in addition to our Wikieducator contribution

  • Wikiversity material which starts the same as the Wikieducator pages but then goes much further using “assess, interpret and create.”

Has this also been developed from OT? I see Leigh is cited.

The quote below, taken from the abstract of the above paper uses simple language to describe this sort of literacy. “Information now plays a vital part in the lives of individuals, organizations, and institutions, and information literacy is the key to the optimum use of information. Digital media pose new challenges for individuals in collecting, organizing, accessing, evaluating, and using it. This survey presents the results of a survey of faculty, who were asked about their use of digital resources and their knowledge of searching for and evaluating these resources”

  • A key book often referred to is Paul Gilster’s 1997 “Digital Literacy”. Just as a little diversion I looked at this blog which examines Gilster’s definitions and comments. I do, however, note how old the book is.

I found it at the appropriately named http://www.shambles.net/pages/school/infoskills/ where I was overwhelmed by information and gave up.