Technology-Enhanced Information Literacy in Adult Education

Technology-Enhanced Information Literacy in Adult Education

Lesley S. J. Farmer
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-906-0.ch012
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Economic and social activities rely on information and communication technologies. Information literacy forms the basis for lifelong learning. Particularly with the advent of electronic information, adult learners need to manage technologies knowledgeably. Information Literacy Learning Models show learners’ interaction with information, and inform instructional design. Technology can inform and enrich this process, including supporting anytime/anywhere learning. Technology-enhanced adult education that addresses information literacy has to deal with several issues: e-resources, instructor acceptance and knowledge of technology, collaboration, and interactivity. Future trends are also mentioned.
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To understand how adult education can improve learning through technology-enhanced information literacy, underlying definitions of the contributing factors need to be explained. These factors result in an interdependent approach to adult learning that recognizes today’s technological society.

Defining Information Literacy

One of the goals of education is to help individuals become functionally literate, which involves a continuum of skills that enables students to be able to do something: procedural knowledge. Students need to access, comprehend, and respond to information. In the United States, reading and writing ability are core competencies in that process. However, other skills such as numeracy and visual acuity are also implicated because knowledge can be represented in so many forms. Increasingly, other countries combine information and communication literacies under the heading ICT (Information and Communication Technology).

Information literacy, as defined by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), includes a set of abilities “requiring individuals to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information. Information literacy also is increasingly important in the contemporary environment of rapid technological change and proliferating information resources.” (ACRL, 2000, p. 2) ACRL continues: “Information literacy forms the basis for lifelong learning. It is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning.” (p. 3)

At one time, these competencies were typically labeled “library skills” or “research process skills” but they now encompass much more than a physical library, incorporate many more formats of information, and address the issues of generating new knowledge as much as verifying and applying existing knowledge. Particularly with the advent of electronic information, information literacy also deals with social learning and responsibility.

In this light, information literacy facilitates a major facet of adult education: providing students the means to become critical lifelong learners. Indeed, as students develop and practice these skills, their learning increases across subject domains. Testing a hypothesis can transfer to justifying a thesis statement, for instance. Additionally, information literacy competency standards provide a framework for assessing student achievement.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Constructivism: A learning theory that posits individual construction of meaning through active interaction with the environment or stimuli. Constructivism acknowledges multiple perspectives and contextualized knowledge, and places the learner center in the process with the teacher as coach.

Affective Domain: emotional aspect.

Situated Cognition Flexibility: The ability to begin on the periphery and observes critically; knowledge is constructed socially.

Information Literacy: The ability to access, evaluate, use, manage, communicate and generate information.

Metacognition: thinking about thinking.

Web 2.0: Interactive Web; enables people to collaborate and share online.

Behavioral Learning: A model of learning that places learners in a receptive position. where external stimuli shape the learner’s response.

Information Processing Theory: The theory explaining the mental operations and physiological phenomena (e.g., sensory reception of stimuli, coding, and memory) involved in processing information.

Technology Literacy: A person’s ability to access and use technology responsibly and effectively.

Collaboration: The process of sharing resources and responsibilities to create shared meaning and attain a common goal; interdependent cooperation.

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