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Closing the U.S. Skills Gap: Is Digital Literacy Enough?
Unfulfilled high skills jobs are America's Achilles Heel, a major impediment to securing this nation's sustainable economic recovery. Our digital ecosystem demands not only tech skills, but the often, undervalued information management ones as well.
Digital literacy, however, is not the same as information literacy. The former addresses the ability to use technology tools; the latter addresses how to maximize the intellectual utility of these tools in the workplace. Our digital ecosystem demands workers who are not only skilled in the use of information and communication technologies, but who can also think creatively, use the best information to make informed decisions, and communicate information effectively.
The National Forum on Information Literacy (NFIL), http://www.infolit.org, recently began a nationwide information literacy gubernatorial proclamation campaign. In 2009, President Obama established October as National Information Literacy Awareness month, the first such recognition of its kind on the national level. In 2011, Governor Deval L Patrick of Massachusetts was the first governor to issue an information literacy proclamation, http://infolit.org/?
The goal of this initiative is to raise awareness among policy makers in the other 49 states that information literacy is a critical force in state educational reform and economic recovery initiatives. Led by Dr. Sharon A. Weiner, Vice President of the NFIL and Professor and W. Wayne Booker Chair on Information Literacy at Purdue University, this initiative has already captured the attention and imagination of information literacy advocates in a number of states, already beginning to draft recommendations for gubernatorial proclamations. “You can always teach information literacy-with or without- the use of technology, but you cannot teach digital literacy without the availability of technological tools,” says Dr. Lana W. Jackman, President of NFIL.
Practicing information literacy in today’s digital ecosystem should be a fundamental outcome of every American’s K-20 educational experience. Promoting state recognition of this critical skill set as an essential component to any state’s current and long term plan for economic recovery supports the mission of the National Forum to mainstream information literacy in society.
Our successful transformation into a thriving, democratic information society and closing the U.S. skills gap demands that we do so. The economic and social benefits of digital literacy simply cannot flourish across the American landscape without the companion skill set of information literacy practice.
Originally established in 1989 by the American Library Association, today the National Forum on Information Literacy (NFIL) is a 501c3 whose primary mission is to promote information literacy practice throughout all segments of American society. For more information on the NFIL gubernatorial information literacy policy initiative and the National Forum on Information Literacy, visit http://www.infolit.org.
Dr. Sharon A. Weiner
National Forum on Information Literacy
Cambridge, MA. 02138
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The National Forum on Information Literacy has evolved into one of the pre-eminent advocacy organizations dedicated to mainstreaming information literacy competencies and practice in the U.S. and worldwide.