Multimodal Information Literacy in Higher Education: Critical Thinking, Technology, and Technical Skill

Multimodal Information Literacy in Higher Education: Critical Thinking, Technology, and Technical Skill

Marlee Givens (Georgia Institute of Technology, USA), Liz Holdsworth (Georgia Institute of Technology, USA), Ximin Mi (Georgia Institute of Technology, USA), Fred Rascoe (Georgia Institute of Technology, USA), Alison Valk (Georgia Institute of Technology, USA) and Karen E. Viars (Georgia Institute of Technology, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0246-4.ch005


This chapter addresses technology in education, multimodal texts, and information literacy in a STEM research-focused university setting. Students produce multimodal content in first year composition classes, but composition instructors lack the skills required to teach students multimedia technology. Librarians respond to the needs of the faculty and students they support. Library instruction takes place within the composition class (course-integrated or “one-shot” instruction) or in a multimedia classroom at the library. The librarians bring technical skills as well as a grounding in information literacy, and their instruction increases students' written, sonic, visual and data literacy. As a result, students become more savvy content consumers as well as creators.
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ACRL has variously defined information literacy as the ability to respond to the need for information by locating, evaluating and effectively using the needed information (1989, 2000). Additionally, it is set of abilities encompassing not only information discovery, but also awareness of the information ecosystem, its production processes, values and ethics, and how information users are also participants in the creation of new knowledge (2016). In creating the Framework, ACRL nullified its previous competency standards, which were a series of tasks and performance outcomes. It now offers flexible, interconnected core concepts, based in part on the emerging theory of metaliteracy, as defined by Mackey and Jacobson (2014). Metaliteracy includes “the collaborative production and sharing of information in participatory digital environments” (p. 1). In other words, 21st century students, as participants in online environments, are approaching information discovery as seasoned information consumers and creators, and the 21st century librarian’s approach to information literacy reflects this new reality.

Key Terms in this Chapter

WOVEN: An acronym that stands for written, oral, visual, electronic, and nonverbal. This represents the multimodal curriculum.

Berrypicking: The theory that information-seeking behavior follows a meandering process, in which serendipitous discovery and changing needs shape the search question itself.

Embedded Librarian: A relationship with a class or instructor marked by continuous, deep engagement by the librarian. Librarians may teach multiple classes, hold office hours, or take part in grading assignments.

STEM: An acronym that stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

One-Shot: A self-contained class that occurs once with a certain set of students and is not part of an ongoing series of lessons.

Course-Integrated: A library-based instruction session, coordinated with faculty and occurring during regular class time, that is directly connected to an assignment or learning outcome.

ACRL Framework: The Association of College and Research Libraries defined six key interconnected concepts, referred to as frames, supporting information literacy instruction. These frames are not prescriptive.

Pearl Growing: A search strategy that has two parts. The bibliography of a relevant document is examined for additional references. The article may also be checked to see if it has been cited by more recently written literature.

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