Information and Digital Literacy at ACU: A Strategy

ACU students need to be equipped with the appropriate skills to become independent lifelong learners upon graduation. The role of the ACU library and information and digital literacy in this development of our students is to provide them with the ability to be:

  • skilled information seekers
  • ethical information gatherers
  • critical information users

Not only does information and digital literacy equip our graduates with the skills to that help them contribute to their profession and community, it is also becoming recognised as a human right that “…can bridge the gap between the information rich and the information poor” (IFLA, 2014). The purpose of this document is to demonstrate how the library will lead the development of our students to become information literate and digital literate graduates by defining terms, identifying tools, and highlighting a collaborative path for library and academic staff.

Graduate Attributes and the strategy

The Information and Digital Literacy strategy is designed to support and align with the Graduate Attributes of ACU, particularly the attributes that state graduates will be “knowledgeable and able to think critically and reflectively” and “skillful and able to locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information (Graduate Attributes, 2015). Through the development of skills that enable them to clarify, search, evaluate, manage, analyse and synthesise information, students can graduate with skills that will support them in their professional and community centred roles. The strategy also recognises and integrates digital literacy skills.

The Terms

Within the educational sector, information literacy is generally defined as an understanding and “set of abilities requiring individuals to recognise when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information” (ANZIIL, 2004). However, increasingly, the skill set is being expanded to include the digital literacy skills of “communication, collaboration and teamwork, social awareness in the digital environment” (Open University, 2015). Digtial literacy skills can be identified as “using technologies in finding, using and disseminating information” (Hagel, 2015b). An extension of this is the ability to create information.
An information literate graduate of ACU will be equipped with the appropriate skills to become independent lifelong learners upon their graduation, including the ability to locate and evaluate information in both print and digital formats.

The Tools

The selected framework for guiding information and digital literacy initiatives at ACU is the Research Skills Development (RSD) Framework (See Appendix A). The framework can be used as a guideline for librarians and academics to work collaboratively on unit learning outcomes to enable the scaffolding of information and digital literacy throughout degree programs.
The Research Skills Development Framework, developed at the University of Adelaide, has been widely adopted by universities around Australia. The framework focuses on 6 ‘facets’ of research that are applicable across all disciplines of research. Each facet is developed through 5 levels that lead students from being able to find and use information with clear guidance to becoming autonomous researchers.
The first three levels are guided and align to exercises and assignments that are generated by the instructor. The remaining two levels of the Framework move the student from being guided by their instructor into being autonomous researchers:

Level 1

At this level, students are expected to conduct their research using set criteria and linear processes provided by their instructor. They will be able to apply research skills using a structured approach.

Level 2

Students still follow guidelines set by their instructors at this level but will be able to select methods and approaches from a limited set of options.

Level 3

Students are able to acknowledge and build upon their skills and apply more detail and depth to the process.

Level 4

Guidance from the instructor is still available at this level but choices regarding research questions and responding to information are made by the students.

Level 5

In this final level, students are able to set their own guidelines for their research process. They are able to independently gather, evaluate, and disseminate information.

Our responsibility to develop Information Literacy does not finish with undergraduate education. Postgraduate and Higher Degree Research students have different, extended Information and Digital Literacy skill requirements and they also require support to expand on those competencies. The Researcher Skill Development Framework assists in identifying these competencies by adding a further two levels:

Level 6

Researchers are able to produce material that adds to their field of enquiry and is cited by others.

Level 7

Researchers are able to generate new directions of enquiry that expand understanding of their field.

The following documents are also relied on to guide the direction and goals of the strategy:

The Implementation

As part of the Students, Learning and Teaching Portfolio, the Library is committed to working alongside other staff within the unit and also across the faculties to ensure that ACU students are able to effectively find and gather information in a digital environment, produce high quality research, and become lifelong learners.
Library staff, Academic Skills staff and Faculty collaborated together to develop Leap Into Learning, the online Information Literacy program. Consisting of 5 modules, the program introduces students to essential Information Literacy and academic skills. Currently, Leap into Learning is a hurdle requirement in some, but not all undergraduate programs. Using the RSD as the framework will assist with information skills being embedded into the curriculum to ensure that it is relevant to assessments and delivered at point of need. Additional resources that support self-directed learning could also be developed as a collaborative project.
Critical to the success of implementing the Information and Digital Literacy Strategy will be the support of teaching and learning staff to adopt it as guiding principles when designing curriculum. Library staff will promote the strategy, highlighting the types of Information Literacy support that can be provided whilst at the same time, emphasising the benefits to students. Establishing a baseline of skills will be part of the implementation.

The Aims

The aim will be to integrate information and digital literacy skills into the curriculum wherever possible, providing a seamless approach to skill development. Digital literacy requires a new approach when compared to information literacy. Good teaching practices will need to apply along with catering for a diverse student body (Hagel, 2015a).

Conclusion

Information and digital literacy skills are essential acquisitions for ACU graduates, in both their student life, and beyond. With the adoption of the RSD framework as the guide for information literacy instruction, The ACU Library is expressing commitment to the development of our students to become skilled graduates who can continue to learn as they move into the professional world.

References

Australian Catholic University. “Graduate Attributes” Last updated June 8, 2015.

Bundy, Alan, ed, Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework: Principles, Standards and Practice, 2nd ed. Adelaide: Australian and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy, 2004.
(accessed August 2nd, 2015)

Hagel, P. (2015a). Deakin University Library research and practice.

Hagel, P.(2015b). What is good practice in the development, assessment and evaluation of digital literacy for graduate employability? discourse: Deakin University Library research & practice. Geelong: Deakin University.

IFLA Media and Information Literacy Recommendations, The Haag, 2014.

Open University, Digital and Information Literacy Framework, Milton Keynes, The Open University, 2015.

Appendix A

Research Skill Development Framework

Appendix B

Researcher Skill Development Framework

Page last updated: 22 Dec 2015

Short url: http://library.acu.edu.au/796573