Information Technology Literacy

Authored by: James W. Marcum , Denise I. O'Shea

Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, Fourth Edition

Print publication date:  November  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781466552593
eBook ISBN: 9781315116143
Adobe ISBN:


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Information technology literacy is a broad, many-dimensional description of the skills and knowledge needed for effective participation in business and education in the twenty-first century. First considered to be generic, those capabilities are now understood to be contextual, social, determined by the specific situation, be it workplace, academic, or social. This becomes clear when the term is compared to information literacy (knowing when information is needed, search strategy development, accessing and managing the information, and using it legally and ethically to meet the need). Information literacy (IL) is extensively explored and discussed in a vast literature. There remains considerable disagreement about what it is and how it should be taught and assessed; yet IL is relatively simple compared to the less developed concept of IT literacy. Information technology literacy involves using the tools of information technology (hardware, software, networks) as well as the data and information (as with IL), as well as working in a specific context (which might be professional, social, industrial, or academic). Workplace, social, behavioral, and cognitive issues become, therefore, part of the complexities in play. Furthermore, complexity accelerates as new media, new communication technologies, and new collaborative capabilities combine to create a dynamic information universe of participation and interactivity. This emergent reality changes the way people learn and the very nature of knowledge. Librarianship, scholarship, research, business, and the professions are all being reformulated in the process of adapting to these new conditions. Information technology (IT) literacy provides a useful concept for tracing, exploring, and better understanding this world-changing phenomenon.

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