So, what is literacy anyway? An initial attempt at a definition.

To start off our module on Information Literacy, we were presented with a series of readings and resources that defined literacy and a variety of newly coined compound-literacy terms (such as information literacy, digital literacy, multi-literacy and the like). We were then asked to reflect upon these and come up with our own definition. This is my initial attempt:

I think that literacy is a continuum of effective inter-personal communication skills, primarily through verbal and textual modes but also including other sense modalities. I think that a key area of misunderstanding is the misuse if the terms “literate” and “illiterate” to refer to particular discrete points on the continuum when what is meant is something more like functionally literate or academically literate. I also think that context is important and that people can have different levels of skill in different components, modes and contexts of communication. But to be honest, I am feeling more confused than clarified about the topic at the moment.

I really enjoyed reading the definition given by a fellow student, Gretha Wocke in her blog post titled Information Literacy – a Commentary:

“The word literacy describes man’s competence with the social constructs of his environment. To be literate means man has the capability and knowledge to access and internalise text, oral and other representations of ideas. It includes the ability to engage with, interpret and understand ideas in a particular context, use it, and re-purpose it. It refers to the capability and skills needed to communicate these ideas, in multiple formats and delivery modes, with the competence. Literacy enables a person the interaction needed for integration in the social environment” (2018, April 26, para 1).


Wocke, G. 2018. Information literacy – a commentary [Blog post]. Retrieved April 30, 2018 from

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