Information practices, literacies and learning research

Information literacies (ILs) research has a broad focus on the transformations in the processes of knowledge production and the role of various tools, sources, embodiments, and types of information in the development of expertise. A major interest in this area concerns changes in the notions of meaningful learning connected to requirements of mastering independent learning and use of digital media and technologies.

Research interests range from hands-on aspects of information handling during work and learning tasks to broader issues concerning information philosophy, different kinds of knowledges and ways of knowing. ILs research advances the notion that "learning to learn" means also helping others learn, that learning is a social, political, and collective/collaborative enterprise, and that information literacies empower learners to transform existing practices and to reflect upon conditions of knowing and learning.

Studies of information use in learning tasks in secondary schools and higher education have shown that aspects related to the seeking, gathering, handling and analysing/synthesising of information during learning tasks are not often explicitly discussed or given attention, for instance, in teacher education or schools. Traditional library instruction and information seeking tutorials do not necessarily fit with out-of-school information and learning environments and practices.

The concept of ”literacies” and competences is closely tied with cultural experiences and interests developed within out-of-school contexts which nevertheless can be powerful learning environments. Social media offers affordances for creating new conditions for cultural learning and sharing, for the creation and mediation of cultural artefacts/products as well as cultural expertise, authority and policy, that differ from those that have reigned within traditional institutions.

Key questions in this area include:

How are information literacies enacted in specific cultures, technologies, and contexts?

  • forms of information literacies in situated learning and work settings
  • epistemic communities and domain-embedded ILs teaching
  • differences in notions of cognitive authority, relevance, credibility, authority and publishing across contexts

How do the material properties and affordances of digital environments shape information access, sharing, and creation?

How do different communities interact with and reshape the tools and infrastructures for information seeking, sharing and use?

How do practitioners in their embodied and performed practices shape and reshape the possibilities for learning?

How should learning assignments and environments be designed so that collaborative creation and recreation of information resources is encouraged?

How does the increasing use of digital media in leisure and everyday life influence traditional information seeking and use practices, and how does it reshape the nature of libraries, museums, documents and online communities?

What kinds of demands does  the increasing use of digital media in work, leisure and everyday life pose for the reshaping of the professional expertise of teachers, librarians, curators, museum educators and other professions?

International Information Literacies Research Network

The key questions and problems related to learning, literacies, and information use are not in any way domain specific. Issues related to the meaningful use of information and the design of fruitful learning tasks and environments are of interest to all disciplines. ILs researchers from Nordic countries, Australia, USA and elsewhere have formed a network (iilresearch; International Information Literacies Research) that arranges opportunities for researchers coming from different contexts but working on the same problems to gather, work and publish collaboratively.

ABM researchers working in this area