Information literacy refers to the ability of a person to identify when they need information and are able to locate, evaluate and use the information as needed (American Library Association, 1989). In order to be information literate, a person needs to learn how to learn by finding new information and using the information to provide a chance for other people to learn. According to Turusheva, students develop learning competence by knowing information sources, chose the appropriate source for particular information, and be able to synthesise information and communicate it well to an audience. In order to be prepared for a life long learning, a person should be able to always find the information they need for any ne task or decision. This essay analyses the impact of information technology, the importance of access to information literacy material, information literacy in leadership, and how to increase information literacy.
The impact of information technology
With the information age, information has been expanding at exceptional rates and big steps are being made in storing, assessing, organizing and analysing information. New technology has enabled students to take charge of their own studies as well as take charge of their information and communication skills. Information technology has led to an immense shift into the provision of education opportunities through distance learning. There has been a shift of provision of distance learning modules to all areas of learning in this era of information technology and this has substantially improved the information literacy of beneficiary populations. The shift however requires scholarship, practice and leadership in order to acquire information that is effective, current and practical to existing needs (Russel, 2009).
The growth of technology has led to storage of information in mass media including library, the internet, electronic journals, among other data sources. According to Russel, students lack an understanding of what constitutes good-quality scholarly information (2009). Students are finding it difficult to use the information sources available and they would most often rely on questionable sources for information like Wikipedia or Dictionary.com. There is therefore a need for teaching staffs and librarians to teach students how to use information sources to search for relevant data.
Importance of access to information literacy material
In this information age, a wide spectrum of resources is therefore needed to enable scholars to obtain and evaluate the needed information. The information age has seen the expansion of information to new levels and according to Turusheva, organizations currently work with an average of 2.7 million documents a year (2009). A lot of information has been made available to scholars through the internet which stores numerous academic books and journals that scholars could use to expand their knowledge. The internet has therefore contributed massively to information literacy as it contains the sources needed for information literacy. This means that if scholars had minimal access to information literacy materials, then they would not be able to access the need information to improve the societal wellbeing. Lack of information literacy materials would also mean that people would not access meaningful information to make good decisions. Scholars would also become dependent on minimal information resources that would be inadequate in this information age. By drawing from different information sources regarding arts, literature and history, scholars are able to access meaningful information and use it effectively such that other people can learn from them. Access to information literacy material would also enable scholars to locate, evaluate and always find information needed for any task (Turusheva, 2009).
Information literacy in leadership
The Scholarship, practitioner, leadership (SPL) Model focuses on encouraging leaders to continue to develop their information literacy so as to become effective leaders. Leadership refers to the ability of using all the resources needed in order to lead a group or organization while still considering that every action has a direct impact on the followers. The SPL model focuses on learning (scholarship), workplace and social contribution (practice), and the ability of individuals to exert positive influence in their personal, professional and academic lives (Zabel, 2004). In information literacy, a person is able to identify when information is needed and obtaining and using it as needed. The SPL model seeks to make leaders to make learning a continuous process such that they are able to obtain information and use it to positively impact the society. Saying so, there is a connection between information literacy and the SPL model as information literacy enables leaders to access and use relevant information needed for their practice. Leaders can only obtain leadership principles through scholarly research and study. In the US, leaders seek to influence public policies, issues and community problems and so without a scholarly background, it would be difficult for a leader to have such an influence. Leadership therefore requires use of information in order to evaluate courses of action and make appropriate decisions (Lauer & Yodanis, 2004).
How to increase information literacy
Information literacy is crucial in this information age and so it is necessary for every scholar, leader and everybody else to be able to obtain, evaluate and use information effectively. In order to increase information literacy, faculty information competency should be constantly developed. Students should be taught how to use technology to receive, use, evaluate and interpret information critically. In addition, students should be taught the ethical and legal aspects of information by using information as intellectual property which recognizing author’s rights. An information literate person should not only be prepared to find, evaluate and use information, but also be able to create information and present it effectively. It has come to my realization that teaching facts and providing information materials is not the best way to learn. For the library project that I am participating in, it would be necessary to give the community the skills needed to evaluate and effectively use the information in their surroundings. The community books and materials should enable learning and problem solving in taking care of their animals (American Library Association, 1989).
Information literacy is the most essential part of a scholar’s learning experience as I have come to learn. Obtaining, evaluating, using and communicating information are the main components of information literacy that one should learn about. Sometimes, it is difficult to evaluate information sources or materials and one is tempted to sue the internet to find information. However, it is important to learn how to use the internet in order to locate authentic and reliable sources of materials. I realize that using peer-reviewed articles and getting the necessary skills in using the library to find the appropriate resources can contribute to information literacy.