Information Literacy in the Digital Age: Implications for Adult Learning

Information Literacy in the Digital Age: Implications for Adult Learning

Terry T. Kidd (Texas A&M University, USA) and Jared Keengwe (University of North Dakota, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-828-4.ch012
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The current debate within the realm of information sciences focuses on a new threat to society – the threat of an information and technologically illiterate population. This chapter focuses on a critical discussion of information literacy and the fallout of academic achievement amongst adult learners. The chapter takes into consideration the current research on information literacy, a historical perspective on information literacy, current best practices in supporting information literacy in the digital age, and as well as an active action plan on combating this new threat. Central to this discussion, the author evaluates the current literature on information literacy and best practices highlighting research from years 1998-2005.
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Increasingly, among 18-30 year olds, the Internet has been used as the primary tool for communication and research. Gerard Delanty, a British sociologist, has argued that a major cognitive shift is currently taking place in society. The divisions between professional and lay knowledge (in the sense of expertise) are dissolving (Delanty, 2003: 80). A new profession, the learning technologist, is emerging. The application of technologies to teaching and learning has created a new term – cybergogy. Research on the impact of technologies on educational practice is only beginning. Most of this research is focused on ‘blended’ (online and face-to-face) learning and on the introduction of information and communication technologies for curricular and instructional purposes. Studies drawn from psychological analysis have shown that technology has an active role in fostering the development of higher cognition.

Teaching and learning in the digital age is a moving away from the passive acquiring of factual information towards the active application of knowledge. The focus is on assisting adult learners to construct knowledge both as independent self-directed enquiry and communally in peer groups in order to demonstrate their knowledge attainment through enactment and application.

To meet this goal, scholarship has identified the need to engage in active research; develop professional enrichment to engage the learner with the content; share research findings and develop students with the skills and abilities to critically think and analyze information from a variety of resources including print and electronic mediums. However, with the lack of opportunities to engage adult learners within a technologically rich learning environment that concise with opportunities for critical thinking, we must begin to rethink our approach to developing adult learners into information literate knowledge producers and consumers. This leads to the discussion of information literacy in the digital age.

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