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Digital Information Literacy Toolkit

This guide is for faculty seeking to add Digital Information Literacy Teaching and Learning to their courses.


The Information Society needs a citizenry capable of accessing, creating, evaluating, organizing, interpreting, and disseminating information in increasingly digital formats: these transferrable and applied skills are necessary for success in the current and emerging workforce—and also necessary for active, thoughtful, and ethical participation in contemporary democratic society.

To this end, the Essential Studies Program requires students to take a class with a special emphasis in “Digital Information Literacy.” The design of these courses needs to be informed by several key Information Literacy concepts, as articulated by the Association of College and Research Libraries: 1) Authority is Constructed and Contextual; 2) Information Creation as a Process; 3) Information Has Value; 4) Research as Inquiry; 5) Scholarship as Conversation; and 6) Searching as Strategic Exploration. At the same time, such classes will teach students specialized tools and practices for finding, evaluating, and using information—in a variety of digital formats or mediums—effectively, efficiently, safely, and ethically.

In addition, these classes should empower students to actively participate in information environments. Digital citizens need transferable, foundational skills that prepare us to work with and evaluate new technologies—like artificial intelligence—and to be ready for emerging and future technologies. To become digital citizens, students need opportunities to be active learners who practice the rhetorical skills that come with communicating, creating, and distributing their own research; they need to practice the metacognition that helps learners reflect on their own cognitive, ethical, and emotional growth in digital spaces; they need opportunities to participate in interactive environments as critical thinkers; they need responsible, epistemic strategies for evaluating the information and misinformation that we encounter, asking themselves how we know what we know; they need to become critical information consumers that can collect, interpret, and apply a range of data and information.

Classes in “Digital Information Literacy” will, therefore, strengthen student agency as they encourage the dispositions that learners need to participate actively and thoughtfully in digital information environments.

ACRL Framework

Courses validated for the Digital Information Literacy Special Emphasis should be informed by the Association of College and Research Libraries’ (ACRL) Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.

The Framework defines Information Literacy is "the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning" (ACRL 2016).

It outlines six Information Literacy Threshold Concepts:

  1. Authority is Constructed and Contextual
  • Information resources reflect their creators’ expertise and credibility, and are evaluated based on the information need and the context in which the information will be used. Authority is constructed in that various communities may recognize different types of authority. It is contextual in that the information need may help to determine the level of authority required.
  1. Information Creation as a Process
  • Information in any format is produced to convey a message and is shared via a selected delivery method. The iterative processes of researching, creating, revising, and disseminating information vary, and the resulting product reflects these differences.
  1. Information Has Value
  • Information possesses several dimensions of value, including as a commodity, as a means of education, as a means to influence, and as a means of negotiating and understanding the world. Legal and socioeconomic interests influence information production and dissemination.
  1. Research as Inquiry
  • Research is iterative and depends upon asking increasingly complex or new questions whose answers in turn develop additional questions or lines of inquiry in any field.
  1. Scholarship as Conversation
  • Communities of scholars, researchers, or professionals engage in sustained discourse with new insights and discoveries occurring over time as a result of varied perspectives and interpretations.
  1. Searching as Strategic Exploration
  • Searching for information is often nonlinear and iterative, requiring the evaluation of a range of information sources and the mental flexibility to pursue alternate avenues as new understanding develops.

Below are helpful resources in understanding the ACRL Framework:



Metaliteracy - situating the student as creator - supports student development of transferable and applied skills necessary for the current and emerging workforce. This framework also values metacognition - building opportunities for students to reflect on their own learning.

Below are helpful resources in understanding Metaliteracy:

Information Literacy VALUE Rubric

Information Literacy is the foundation for Digital Information Literacy. This Essential Studies Learning Goal is assessed using the AAC&U VALUE Rubric:

Related Frameworks

The core frameworks are one of many approaches.

Related "Literacies"

  • Citizen Literacy
  • Financial Literacy
  • Health Literacy
  • Media Literacy

Related Techniques

  • Lateral Reading
  • If I Apply