Saturday, 26 October 2013

MIL vs IL at the European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL)

Not strictly related to Games for Libraries, but I did present on Play and Games for Information Literacy for the ECIL conference. I'll pop a link to what I presented on this blog later ... A few quick thoughts on the tension between Media Information Literacy (MIL) and Information Literacy (IL) as it came up at the ECIL conference! All typed on my phone while taking the children swimming between arriving back from ECIL and setting off to Legoland, so apologies for the typos and rushed, half thought through arguments! Something that kept on coming up at ECIL was the use of the term MIL rather than IL, as per UNESCO (link). This was even to the extent that Ralph Catts in his summing up urged us to switch to using MIL as the preferred term. There were a few reasons for this, largely around it being a broader, more inclusive term. Something that Media Literacy & Information Literacy people could agree on and work under. To illustrate, Ralph asked us which was the broader term - information or media literacy. Most of the room thought 'information', but he said doing the same at a media literacy conference brought back the opposite result. All well and good, but I think this approach is seriously mistaken. First of all, and slightly facetiously, why stop there? Surely Digital Media Information Literacy Skills Fluency would be even better? In fact, I'd argue the opposite. The more 'literacies' you try to bring into the label of a concept, the less inclusive it becomes. Artificially trying to bring groups together just creates even more splinter terms and groups, creating less unity rather than more. When I talk about information literacy I tend to be thinking out of the experiential / relational approach largely originating from Christine Bruce and her colleagues at QUT. That is fairly different from the heavily competency based approach that dominates in the US thanks to the ALA / ACRL standards. I recognise, however, that we are talking about the ideas even though we are coming from different angles at it and I'm really glad they still sit under the same label. The same is true of media literacy, information fluency, meta literacy, or many other of the 'literacies' people talk about, they are different lenses through which we view largely the same things. We all think our term is the broadest because it is - for us. We are looking at broadly similar things from different angles. These things aren't subsets of each other (like Ralph's set picture), they are largely *overlapping* sets. Each new term creates the same problem - someone from outside sees it as smaller, whatever the intention behind it, such as to create a wider encompassing set! Using MIL just creates another largely meaningless splinter term that people spend time & energy defining and arguing about. Surely it's better to publish in each other's journals, speak at each other's conferences, and attempt to break the artificial borders through taking the wider, relational view, rather than picking a new name for a concept (& conference)? I'll think a bit more about how we can do this, starting with the stuff we do through the Information Literacy Group in the UK.