Information Literacy & Digital Fluency

In a world of global information, the ability to handle information effectively has never been more vital. The school library is much more than a gateway to information sources. It is where pupils learn to make sense of their reading and acquire the essential building blocks of information skills – a key to lifelong learning.

The school must adopt a whole school approach to teaching information skills so that skills are  taught in context and are reinforced in the classroom and the library as the curriculum requires.

The research report published by Demos (Bartlett and Miller, 2011) Truth, Lies and the Internet  highlights that the internet is the greatest source of information for people today. However, many young people are unable to find the information they are looking for, and   lack the careful critical discerning skills to evaluate that which they find.

“ A specific body of skills and knowledge is required to make informed judgments. We use the term “digital fluency” to describe the competence: the ability to find and critically evaluate online information. It is a combination of the “old” critical thinking skills, such as source verification and the “new” knowledge about how the digital world works… These are the bedrock skills necessary for the individual to use the internet to search, retrieve, contextualise, analyse and synthesise information effectively.” Bartlett and Miller  (2011) p4

The use of a recognised “Research Model” such as that developed by Michael Marland will assist pupils in developing the ability and dexterity to locate information, and effectively evaluate information.

Michael Marland’s Nine Questions

Question Skill
1. What do I need to do? Formulation and analysis of need
2. Where could I go? Identification and appraisal of likely sources
3. How do I get the information? Tracing and locating individual resources
4. Which resources shall I use? Examining, selecting and rejecting individual sources
5. How shall I use the resources? Interrogating resources
6. What should I make a record of? Recording and storing information
7. Have I got all the information I need? Interpretation, analysis, synthesis, evaluation
8. How should I present it? Presentation, communication
9. What have I achieved? Evaluation

The success of such a research model lies within it being used systematically throughout the school and across the curriculum in:-

a) Project/ independent work


b) Where opportunities within the context of “real learning” are given to explore and evaluate book based information with digital information.

Reinforcing the learning sequence

  • Pupils need time and opportunity to learn how to make full use of the library and to handle information efficiently and effectively
  • Information literacy must be taught and reinforced through out the pupils’ school careers and across the curriculum
  • Pupils need systematic guidance and experience in the selection and use of information books and other digital sources
  • The seeking of information and the resulting organisation and presentation needs to be within the everyday demands of each curriculum subject

N.B. Your nearest School Library Service may be able to provide a trainer for this work

Other ideas can be obtained from the FOSIL group (framework of Skills for Inquiry Learning)




Bartlett, J. and Miller, C. Truth. lies and the internet: A report into young people’s digital fluency. DEMOS, 2011

Marland, M. Information skills in the secondary curriculum. Schools Council, Methuen, 1981

Wray, D. and Lewis, M. Extending literacy: Children reading and writing non-fiction. Routledge 1991