Taking a step back. Information, transliteracy and the TL

Has the school in which you work (or know best) developed an information literacy policy?

At this stage we have no such policy in place. I have a sneaking suspicion that the development of one will fall directly to me…

Should this be an essential policy for a 21st century school? 

An IL policy is unquestionably essential. There are so many different kinds of information and so many different ways to utilise this information, that a comprehensive IL policy would be needed just to help staff to recognize half of it. A good IL policy gives staff and students the tools to dismantle and ‘unpack’ the mountains of information they view on a regular basis.

How is information literacy approached in your school or experience? Do you see gaps in the approach used, and if so, where? 

Information literacy is approached with varying degrees of enthusiasm in my current school. As mentioned above, there is no current IL policy so we’re all, as it were, singing from different sheets. The biggest gap I can see is that the teachers who are educating students in IL are not fully aware they are doing so. Teachers create research tasks that require students to compile and utilize print, video, images and links toward a singular presentation. The students must also learn how to operate the software and systems that will allow them to create their presentation. Then they have to publish and share their work with others. These are rich tasks, they engage students utilizing multiple media types and ICT, they educate students in the meta-literacy needed to identify and manipulate the information they have, but they fail to step back and look at the bigger picture. Teachers teach IL and expect IL, but they never point out the IL is something that can be taught. Teachers can tend to fall into the trap that Thomas (2006) points out; that some educators can mistakenly assume that because they are teaching digital natives, the students should have some latent abilities when it comes to processing complex digital information(in Lorenzo, 2007. p. 3).

How can a transliteracy approach expand the teaching role of the TL beyond the traditional information literacy paradigm?

Approaching information literacy with effective transliteracy as an over-arching goal is very important for a TL. Transliteracy gives students the ability to read and interpret the greater world around them. Considering that traditional literacy was limited to singular forms (eg print or images), this is a huge expansion. If a TL views IL as the ability to read and interpret a static text with images, then they are neglecting social literacy, video literacy, ICT literacy, and literacy in the tools that can manipulate and combine literacies. If we are to expand our roles to become educators and guides of transliteracy then we need to teach students to understand the wider social system they operate in (Ipri, 2010). Transliteracy is ‘big picture’ literacy; literacy in the systems that sit behind what we see on the surface.

For instance:

We see an ad on a website.

  • Traditional literacy tells us this ad is for shoes.
  • Visual literacy tells us this ad is designed to be exciting because of the colours used.
  • Social literacy tells us that the shoes being advertised are ‘fancy’ shoes that you could wear to a party.
  • Numeric literacy tells you that you cannot afford these shoes.
  • ICT literacy reminds you that that web ads are created based on personal data that websites collect about you.
  • Transliteracy is being able to see this ad, realise all of this simultaneously and then find the shoes for less on another site.



 Ipri, T. (2010). Introducing transliteracy. College & Research Libraries News, 71(10), 532-567.

 Thomas, W. in Lorenzo, G. (2007) Catalysts for Change: Information Fluency, Web 2.0, Library 2.0, and the New Education Culture, Clarence Center, NY: Lorenzo Associates, Inc., March.

What Does it Mean to be Literate in the 21st Century? (n.d.). Retrieved from You tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Wn0_H-kvxkU


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