Throughout history, the movements of open education and information literacy have been traveling on parallel tracks, pursuing similar ends but generally independent of each other. One significant connecting theme throughout history has been that of control.
In our current environment, surveillance is a means of social and economic control. Openness enables this. The collection and collation of information enables this. In Zurkowski’s (1974) seminal paper on information literacy, he points out that value of information lies in the control it provides. He saw this in terms of individuals: control over what they are and what they can be. Predating Zurkowski, Resnick’s (1972) seminal paper listed the central concern of open education as “increasing the degree of control the individual exercises over the shape of his own life.” Today we could rephrase Zurkowski: Information has value in direct proportion to the control it provides the collector over what society is and what it can become.
Understanding how information is produced and disseminated, and how those processes are financed, is a fundamental yet underappreciated aspect of information literacy. The ACRL Framework for Information Literacy (2016) recognizes that Information Creation is a Process, but has little to say about who controls that process, and how. The Framework also recognizes that Information Has Value, noting “Experts understand that value may be wielded by powerful interests in ways that marginalize certain voices,” but primarily seeing it as intellectual property. But other voices in the library community have advocated for information literacy as a liberal art, specifically addressing control in saying “information literacy is essential to the future of democracy, if citizens are to be intelligent shapers of the information society rather than its pawns” (Shapiro and Hughes, 1996). The care in the open ed movement is shared by the info lit movement.
This research presentation will examine the connections among open education, information literacy and control. Both movements would benefit from closer integration (Cape Town Open Education Declaration, 2018) in the pursuit of open education for civic engagement and democracy. The goal is to open a discussion of how to further this alliance.
ASSOCIATION OF COLLEGE AND RESEARCH LIBRARIES. 2016. Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education [Online]. Available: http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework [Accessed April 30 2019].
CAPE TOWN OPEN EDUCATION DECLARATION 2018. Cape Town Open Education Declaration 10th Anniversary. https://www.capetowndeclaration.org/cpt10/img/cpt10-booklet.pdf
RESNICK, L. B. 1972. Open Education: Some Tasks for Technology. Educational Technology, 12, 70. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED078694
SHAPIRO, J. J. & HUGHES, S. K. 1996. Information literacy as a liberal art. Educom Review, 31, 31. https://www.educause.edu/ir/library/html/erm/31231.html
ZURKOWSKI, P. G. 1974. The Information Service Environment Relationships and Priorities. Related Paper No. 5. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED100391
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