What is Information & Technology Literacy?

The American Library Association Presidential Committee on Information Literacy, Final Report defines the Information Literate individual as one who has the capacity to "recognize when information is needed and ... the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information." The Common Core State Standards require educators to re-focus pedagogy to better prepare students for entry into college or the workforce after high school graduation. To that end, the Association of College and Research Libraries defines Information Literacy as: 

Information literacy forms the basis for lifelong learning. It is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning. An information literate individual is able to:

  • Determine the extent of information needed

  • Access the needed information effectively and efficiently

  • Evaluate information and its sources critically

  • Incorporate selected information into one’s knowledge base

  • Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose

  • Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally

The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has developed the 

Standards for the 21st Century Learner to address the need for information and technology literacy instruction at the K-12 level. The Standards for the 21st-Century Learner offer a vision for teaching and learning to guide and shape both the library program and the learning of students in the school.

As the world of information becomes increasingly digital, concomitantly it becomes increasingly difficult to separate information literacy from technology literacy. It becomes self-evident that students will need to be technologically literate in order to be information literate, and vice-versa. As an example, examine The 2016 ISTE Standards for Students: 

The 2016 ISTE Standards for Students emphasize the skills and qualities we want for students, enabling them to engage and thrive in a connected, digital world. The standards are designed for use by educators across the curriculum, with every age student, with a goal of cultivating these skills throughout a student’s academic career. Both students and teachers will be responsible for achieving foundational technology skills to fully apply the standards. The reward, however, will be educators who skillfully mentor and inspire students to amplify learning with technology and challenge them to be agents of their own learning.

ISTE's Standards for Students and the AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner use different terminology to express the shared goal of preparing students for meaningful and productive lives in the 21st Century. Both information and technology literacy emphasize the need for critical thinking skills, developing students as life long learners, and teaching students how to find, use, and communicate information effectively and ethically. So, how do librarians and teachers collaborate to empower students with the necessary 21st Century skills?

There are numerous information process models that have been developed over the years to help students become information and technology literate. The following is a brief but representative list:


  1. The BIG6 - http://www.big6.com/

  2. American Association of School Libraries (AASL) 21st Century Learner -http://www.ala.org/aasl/standards/learning

  3. Information Problem Solving (Kulthau) -

  4. Information Skills (Irving) - http://eduscapes.com/instruction/inquiry/irving.htm

  5. Pathways to Knowledge (Pappas & Tepe) -

  6. Research Cycle (McKenzie) - http://eduscapes.com/infooriginal/cycle.html

  7. Research Process (Stripling & Pitts) -

  8. New South Wales Information Process - http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/schoollibraries/teachingideas/info_skills/index.html

  9. Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Objectives for Information Literacy Instruction - http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/objectivesinformation

  10. Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education -

The information process models listed above share a number of common threads between them. While there is much overlap, they are not mutually inclusive, and technology literacy is often only covered in a cursory manner. To meet both information and technology literacy instructional needs, the Highland High School Library uses the BIG6 Information and Technology Literacy process model. The BIG6 model is simple, straight forward, and easy for students to learn and remember. While no model is perfect, and teachers are certainly free to use whichever model best suits their specific pedagogic needs, the BIG6 has been widely disseminated, and offers a large range of supporting materials and resources on the BIG6 web site, and across the Internet generally. The Library also has materials available in the Profesional Collection to support impelmenting the BIG6 in the classroom.

For Further Information about Information and Technology Literacy and Critical Thinking:

PRO 025.0407 EISE Teaching information & technology skills : the Big6 in secondary schools
PRO 025.524 EISE The definitive Big 6 workshop handbook
TEC 027.8 CHUR Leveraging your library program to help raise test scores: a guide for library media specialists, principals, teachers, and parents

TEC 027.8

The power of the media specialist to improve academic achievement and strengthen at-risk students
TEC 027.8097
Empowering learners : guidelines for school library programs
TEC 027.8222
The standards-based integrated library : a collaborative approach for aligining the library program with the classroom curriculum
TEC 027.8223
Collaborating to meet standards : teacher/librarian partnerships for 7-12
TEC 028.7071
Using pop culture to teach information literacy
PRO 371.33 NATI National Educational Technology Standards for Students: connecting curriculum and technology
TEC 379.158 STAN Standards for the 21st-century learner in action

BIG6 Resources Assignment Ideas

Best Practices
  BIG6 Teacher's Guide for Black Line Masters

Evaluating BIG6 Units

Instructional Unit Design Template

Handouts for the BIG6

Wallet Card-sized Overview

Videos The Big6 Approach to Information & Technology Literacy

The Big6 Will Save the Mission!

Web Resources
  • BIG6 Matrix: Janet Murray has developed a BIG6 Matrix that aligns the BIG6 with both AASL's Standards for the 21st Century Learner and ISTE's NETS for Students (NETS*S), including great links to relevant resources for educators.
  • BIG6 Process Model: The Big6™ is a process model for information problem-solving. It integrates information search and use skills along with technology tools in a systematic process to find, use, apply, and evaluate information for specific needs and tasks.
  • The BIG6 Research Process: Explains the value of the BIG6 as an information-problem solving model, and how the BIG6 integrates both information literacy and technology skills as part of a systematic discovery and learning process.
  • Big 6 Resources: A collection of resources for the BIG6 maintained by the Utah Education Network in partnership with the Utah State Office of Education and Higher Ed Utah.
  • Ilene F. Rockman Instruction Publication of the Year Award: This annual award recognizes an outstanding publication related to instruction in a library environment published in the preceding two years. The award honors Ilene F. Rockman's professional contributions to academic librarianship in the area of information literacy.
  • International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE): The ISTE strives to ensure that technology improves learning and teaching to help more students achieve their full potential. ISTE developed the ISTE Standards for learning, teaching, and leading in the digital age and are widely recognized and adopted worldwide.
  • IS Innovation Award: This annual award recognizes a project that demonstrates creative, innovative, or unique approaches to information literacy instruction or programming.
  • Learning4Life (L4L): This implementation plan was created to support states, school systems, and individual schools preparing to implement the Standards for the 21st-Century Learner and Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Programs.
  • NewsBank's BIG6 Resource Center for 21st Century Libraries: For over 30 years, NewsBank has helped students to develop their research and critical thinking skills. Today, NewsBank proudly features the widely-known information literacy model... the Big6™! These resources and activities help students easily and effectively develop their Big6™ skills.
  • Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21): The Partnership for 21st Century Skills is a national  organization that advocates for 21st century readiness for every student.   
  • Project Information Litearcy (PIL): Project Information Literacy is a national study about early adults and their information-seeking behaviors, competencies, and the challenges they face when conduction research in the digital age.
  • School Library Programs Improve Student Learning: The School Library Programs Improve Student Learning is a series of advocacy brochures designed to help school librarians generate and guide discussion with stakeholder groups in the school library community. The teacher brochure in the series outlines goals and key questions specific and important to teachers, allowing them to visualize a model school library program from their perspective.
  • S.O.S. for Information Literacy: S.O.S. for Information Literacy is a dynamic web-based multimedia resource that includes peer-reviewed lesson plans, handouts, presentations, videos and other resources to enhance the teaching of information literacy (K-16).
  • Standards for the 21st Century Learner: The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Standards for the 21st-Century Learner offer a vision for teaching and learning to guide and shape both the library program and the learning of students in the school.
  • Standards for the 21st Century Learner Lesson Plan Database: The Standards for the 21st-Century Learner Lesson Plan Database is a tool to support school librarians and other educators in teaching the essential learning skills defined in the AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. Users can search the database for lesson plans by learning standards and indicators, content topic, grade-level, resources used, type of lesson or schedule, keyword and much more. In addition, registered users can bookmark lesson plans in a portfolio for future use, rate and comment on lesson plans in the community, print to PDF and socially share lesson plans on the web, and create and publish their own lesson plans in the database.