• Anne Pemberton

Rockstar: Jane Secker

Dear Interwebs,

It is a huge relief (and of course an example of confirmation bias) to read that others are having the same discussions about information ignorance AND are calling for new, or at least shared, terminology. It is also slightly depressing that these same conversations have been going on for "many moons" as my Dad would say. Back to the positive, the specific technology (software, hardware) changes all the time, while the conceptualizations of IL are steady.

In a previous post I mentioned geeking out when I discovered the upcoming keynote ("Frame, Models and Definitions: Rethinking Information Literacy for the Digital Age") to be delivered by Jane Secker at Creating Knowledge 2021. I would absolutely give Dr. Secker rockstar status. How have I not been following her work all these years? And she is a mindfulness practitioner!

From the conference abstract, Dr. Secker writes:

  • "Those who complete my module on the same topics have reflected on the plethora of terms and frameworks which are designed to support them which in fact sometimes leave them further confused."

  • "For us to achieve true universal information literacy, as Paul Zurkowski first envisaged, (Zurkowski, 1974) I will argue information literacy needs to become an ongoing concern [f]or everyone who works in education, government, the media or who cares about social justice."

True that, Dr. Secker. True that.

From "The Trouble with Terminology: Rehabilitating and Rethinking ‘Digital Literacy’" (2018), Secker writes:

"Whether we call it ‘media and information literacy’ (UNESCO, 2015), ‘metaliteracy’ (Jacobson and Mackey, 2013) or digital literacy, terminology matters because it helps academics, librarians, learning developers and learning technologists develop a shared understanding of their aims. However, in many institutions there is still work to be done to map these abilities onto a common framework and to develop an approach for embedding this in the curriculum. By recognising the overlaps and unique aspects of each literacy, those supporting digital, academic and information literacies can work together with academic staff. Moreover, it should then be possible to develop a shared framework that has a measurable impact on student learning, but which avoids prescribing the tools and technologies that students should be able to use. This approach can also challenge the myth of the ‘digital native’ that persists amongst many discipline teachers, despite much evidence to the contrary (more on that story later!). Assumptions about how students develop their digital, academic and information literacies need to be challenged if we want to empower students to consider the information they trust, the digital tools and technologies they use, and the ethical issues when using and creating knowledge. The solid foundation in information literacy teaching positions librarians as key players as institutions develop digital literacy programmes, but there is much to learn from critical and academic literacy models and from embedding these beyond the library across an institution."


I feel seriously ignorant that I was not already aware of Secker and Coonan's book, "Rethinking Information Literacy: A Practical Framework for Supporting Teaching" published in 2013. The little hamster in my head is trying to piece together how this would have influenced the Framework. I see in "Appendix 3: Sources for Further Reading," Secker's "A New Curriculum for Information Literacy: Expert Consultation Report" is recommended which seems to be the basis of the "Rethinking Information Literacy" book which outlines the ANCIL Framework.

I am just that level of nerd that I want to explore these notes from the discussions that led to the development of ANCIL (including the picture of the whiteboard below). "This wiki is an archive of the research workspace used by Jane Secker and Emma Coonan while developing the New Curriculum for Information Literacy as part of the Arcadia Programme. The project ran from 3rd May until 8th July 2011. Project outputs and ongoing work can now be found on our new site,"

Back to the hamster ...

"The Trouble with Terminology" provides what might be the most helpful advice I have come across in my "OMG, 2020 Cannot Happen Again" journey. Secker outlines a path that my colleagues and I might take to move us forward.

Stage 1: Developing graduate attributes Includes: "Create a cross institutional definition of the critical abilities your institution aspires to develop in its students."

Stage 2: Creating an institutional framework

Includes: "If such a thing does not exist already, it might be appropriate to create an institutional framework or model of student literacies or graduate attributes either across your institution or specific to each school or department."

Stage 3: Undertaking a review or audit

Includes: "Which departments are responsible for developing student abilities and moving them towards becoming lifelong learners? Is this embedded in the curriculum? Is it taught alongside the curriculum? Are all students in all departments or schools getting the same opportunities?"

Stage 4: Identifying overlaps and gaps

Includes: "Ensure that expectations are clear about which departments are responsible for leading in specific areas of digital and information literacy support but consider planning joint sessions wherever possible that focus on the tasks students need to be undertaken in a holistic way."

Stage 5: Sustainability

Includes: " ... ensure that the framework is revised and adapted and a living document, rather than a one-off piece of work that becomes irrelevant."

So much to ponder!



Citations to Prove I Can Still Copy and Paste Citations

Secker, Jane. A New Curriculum for Information Literacy: Expert Consultation Report. Arcadia Project, Cambridge University Library, July 2011.

Secker, J. (2018). The trouble with terminology: rehabilitating and rethinking ‘Digital Literacy’. In: Reedy, K. and Parker, J. (Eds.), Digital Literacy Unpacked. (pp. 3-16). London: Facet Publishing. ISBN 178330197X Available at:

Secker, J and Coonan, E (2013) Rethinking Information Literacy: a practical framework for supporting teaching. Facet publishing: London.

Zurkowski, P. (1974) The Information Service Environment: Relationships and Priorities. Related Paper No.5. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science. Available at:

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