Information and data literacy

Cyberspace can be a perfect and valuable environment, but it needs to be approached with some criticisms and discretion.

In a digital competence model, information and data literacies are a base or starting point for using technology. It shows that cyberspace can, on the one hand, be a perfect and valuable environment. It needs to be treated with a specific criticality and discretion, thought about, and work with information. 

In this context, Peter Jarvis writes about the differentiation between information, knowledge, and learning societies. What is significant for the information society is that information is the primary economic good. The information revolution has caused them to increase exponentially, with mass production leading to new occupations and forms of entrepreneurship. The information produced changes a society that is not adequately prepared to work with it. 

The knowledge society is different in that its members are able (in some excess) to search for information and use it adequately for their benefit. Information is not a raw material for them but something more valuable. Its members can retrieve, store, process information. So it's a company that's involved with this part of Digcomp. 

But Jarvis stresses that there is no stopping there for at least two reasons. The first one, which he does not explicitly write about, is artificial intelligence. We need to transform the way we learn and learn to encourage learning activities that will lead to a person not competing with artificial intelligence or machine learning but to work or research more efficiently and better. Therefore, it is an overall transformation of the concept of learning, which will have to be seen as significant in lifelong learning as schooling. In school, one should first learn to teach oneself. It is impossible to think that a school (whatever it is) will prepare a person to pursue a profession with a horizon of more than five to ten years (perhaps most interesting is the table of occupations at the end of the chapter). 

The second fact is equally crucial. The increase in information should promote democracy and a liberal pluralist society, but that is not happening. It is, therefore, necessary to learn to judge and evaluate information critically, to be able to identify fake news, and to combat disinformation effectively. Only this form of education, which will lead to critical thinking in the information age, can ensure the maintenance of democracy. At the same time, however, it is clear that it cannot just be a school education but must be broader because it needs to include the population's whole (or as comprehensive as possible). 

All these changes should lead to a society that can be described as learning, responding dynamically to changes in the outside world while being ready to actively participate in its transformation. 

Some models of information literacy

Big6 is a circular process model to address the information problem. It takes into account both skills and technology. It is a systematic process of finding, using, and evaluating information. The model contains a total of six steps an informally literate individual goes through to solve a problem. As shown in the image, the model also includes arrows showing the progress of the information work. 

The first step is defining the need. The second step is defining the search strategy and the subsequent information search process. The third step involves identifying and locating sources. The fourth step is using them, that is, critically reading and writing notes. In the fifth step, there is the organization of resources and the subsequent presentation of information. The final sixth step is the evaluation, that is, the evaluation of whether the process and selection of resources were correct and led to the resolution of the problem. 

The seven pillars of information literacy represent seven areas of information work and reflect the environment in which the individual is located, as it is the environment that influences how the individual's work will evolve. The pillar names are information organization, evaluation, presentation, collection and identification of location and access, identification of need, planning of search strategies, and availability of resources and knowledge. 

The basis of the model is the assumption that increasing information literacy is not a linear process. Still, each pillar can function independently of the other as it can be closely related to the others. The metaphor of pillars evokes the idea that the more a person becomes informally literate, the closer they get to the top of the pillar. At the same time, the model stresses that it is possible to develop individual competencies separately and pursue them relatively individually. Very much the way the Digcomp model works with them. 

Briefly, we should also mention Markless and Streatfield's model of information and critical literacy. This describes three main pillars: connecting with information, interacting with information, and using information. Compared to the previous two models, all three pillars are entirely interconnected. Connection with information is primarily the ability to navigate a problem and resources, to be able to locate resources through search and survey. Interaction with information is thought mainly of by critical thinking and evaluating information and its construction and transformation (structure building, interpretation). The use of the information then includes application, communication, referral (citation), and transformation (learning, restructuring). 

The ALA works with an information literacy model that contains the following areas of competence, which it then dissects further by the target group. The user can determine the scope of the information needed, can access the information needed, critically assess the information, and their sources, include the selected information in their knowledge base, and make meaningful and efficient use of the information. The ALA, then, is characterized by one last circuit, the reflection of the economic, legal, and social issues of information work. 

This model is of interest to the university environment because it emphasizes the relationship between scientific work and information literacy. It carefully describes what competencies a college or general scientist must acquire to do good and meaningful science honestly. So in this respect, it is a model that is certainly worth exploring. 

So far, we have left data literacy to the side, which we will also be less concerned with because we will see it as part of information literacy. Tomáš Marek offers an excellent overview and, at the same time, a critical text on the topic. This is the relatively new literacy, more vaguely or less consensually accepted so far. Erica Deahl understands it as the ability to understand, find, interpret, visualize, and argue using quantitative or qualitative data. Data literacy is a way of thinking that allows you to enter problems through data. 

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