Martin, Crystle A. “Information Literacy in Interest-Driven Learning Communities: Navigating the Sea of Information of an Online Affinity Space.” The University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2012.

Martin investigates “the information literacy practices that take place in the constellation of information, which is the in-game and out-of-game information resources of the massively multiplayer (MMO) game World of Warcraft (WoW).” (p. i) She uses information horizon maps and an analysis of “community curated resources like knowledge compendiums” and “forums and chat logs” (p. i) to explore these practices. Martin developed a new coding framework for information literacy based on the literature and used this framework to code chat data.

What are the forms of information literacy practices engaged in by participants in an online affinity space?
SubRQ1. How do players situatie themselves within the constellation of information available around their affinity space?
SubRQ2. How are information literacy processes practiced in the community?
SubRQ3. Does collective intelligence happen in these affinity spaces? (p. 106)

From her data, Martin generates a new framework of information literacy. She finds that “at any level these affinity spaces encourage collaborative information literacy practices” (p. 108).

Martin’s study assumes “that people can have individualized information literacy practices that they use to help them successfully fulfill their information needs” (p. 108). This contrasts “the traditional perspective that everyone needs to be taught to utilize the same strict structure of information literacy” (p. 108).

“Information literacy is more than a set of skills or abilities. It is the practices individuals use and how these individuals situate themselves towards the information available to them. However, it is also the practices of groups of people in a community that encompasses cultural norms, discourses, and implemented practices. In short, information literacy is a way of being in the world.” (p. 109)

Martin points out that previous research on and standards for information literacy were developed for institutional settings, keeping a division between academic information literacy and everyday life information behavior.

This is only the second study to look at information literacy in an affinity space; Martin & Steinkuehler 2010 is the first.

Martin points out “limitation in scope and research methodologgy within the field of information literacy” (p. 19):
There is an overwhelming number of standards.
Most are expertise-based rather than evidence-based.
“…separation of imposed and self-determined information-seeking makes little sense” (p. 20) as the same skills and abilities can be used for both, as well as the line between work and play not always being clear.

Martin aggregated “information literacy definitions to determine overlap as well as to create a stronger definition from each contribution” (p. 62-63) and that’s how she generated her codes.

She illustrates this aggregate as a “linear and solitary process” (p. 66) but points out that “in affinity spaces with synchronous and asynchronous communication, peer-produced resources, and frequently changing content, these spaces are neither linear nor solitary” (p. 66)

The standard model “presumes dissemination as the end product” (p. 68-69).

Martin proposes a new model, based on Martin and Steinkuehler (2010):

The major differences in this model are that it shows the complexity that can occur during information seeking, it can take collective and collaborative information literacy practices into account, and it shifts the focus of the information literacy model from ending with dissemination to ending with using information for a specific purpose, that is to satisfy the person’s information need.” (p. 71-2)

The phases in the standard model can be grouped: recognizing the information need, developing a strategy for finding information, finding the information, and creating a product with the information. (p. 68) Martin’s new phases can be grouped as: recognizing the need, input, evaluation, and output (p. 74).

“The division of information literacy by the process in which the intellectual work is undertaken represents information literacy as a cognitive process instead of a skills-based system that essentially lays out a checklist.” (p. 75)

Diagram on p. 76

After using this new model to generate codes and analyze chat logs and forums, Martin proposes a refined version of the model based on her data.


One thought on “

Comments are closed.


  • Kimberly Hirsh Mother. PhD student @ UNC SILS studying information literacy & connected learning. I do a bunch of other stuff, too. (She/her/hers.)