Taking as its starting point the view that information literacy (IL) and information literacy education (ILE) are essential for national, social and personal development in countries of the less developed world, this chapter looks at how context informs our understanding of the nature and process of IL and ILE in developing countries of the Asian region, with particular attention to Cambodia and Laos. The principal focus is on definitional issues related to cultural contexts. From the literature and from personal experience as IL/ILE trainers in SE Asia, we maintain that extant definitions and understanding of IL are principally North American in origin and focus, or largely based on the North American perception of IL and ILE. It was not until the mid-years of the first decade of this century that we saw formal recognition that IL competencies are being applied within cultural and social contexts, and that cultural factors are affecting information literacy. Our chapter contributes ‘on-the-ground’ support for this understanding. During the course of a series of IL/ILE workshops in Cambodia and Laos, a series of ad hoc focus groups was utilised to test the contextual effects on understandings of information literacy; contextualised definitions, each specific to and slightly different for individual countries, were developed. What emerged from the focus group discussions about IL was a series of definitional nuances highlighting these key points: (1) information literacy in definition and practice must be contextually grounded; (2) knowledge creation as a product of information literacy is both knowledge based and problem focused; (3) the contexts of a society must be understood quite specifically; and may be unique to each society; and (4) information literacy involves a continuum that comes from and at the same time enables new learning related to the contextual aspects of information. Given these points, we confirm that traditional definitions of IL are not particularly robust in the context of less developed Asian countries. Further, we conclude that local understanding of IL results in definitions aligned with the realities of specific societies. This in our view leads to more robust, contextualised information literacy education.
Dorner, D., Gorman, G. and Gaston, N. (2012), "Chapter 7 Developing Contextual Perceptions of Information Literacy and Information Literacy Education in the Asian Region", Spink, A. and Singh, D. (Ed.) Library and Information Science Trends and Research: Asia-Oceania (Library and Information Science, Vol. 2), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 151-172. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1876-0562(2011)002011b009Download as .RIS
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