Digital literacy, 21st century literacy, visual literacy, and media literacy all have one thing in common: information literacy. All these different terms are tossed around to describe skills that are rooted in information literacy. Many librarians still use the term information literacy, as does the ALA. Is this a problem? Maybe, and I’ll tell you why. The term information literacy seems to be almost exclusively used by librarians (and in some circles of higher education). But while educators are increasingly recognizing it as important for student success, they more frequently refer to it as digital literacy, media literacy or 21st century literacy. When communicating with educators, whether they are college faculty or K-12 teachers, we need to be speaking the same lingo. By speaking the same lingo, we communicate better. By communicating better, we make more progress with integrating these skills into the classroom.
As librarians, the most important thing to realize is that information literacy is gaining a lot of research interest outside of the library and information science field. In fact, it is one of the greatest things that educational technology and library science have in common. But, the terms do vary, and until one is officially settled upon, it is essential to speak the lingo of those outside your field so they understand what you are talking about.
If you are interested in reading the educational technology perspective on the topic, I recommend TechTrends (available through SpringerLink), Educational Technology Research & Development (available through SpringerLink), Educational Technology (ironically, not available FT online, but can be searched using Google Scholar) and the publications available through EdITLib. Educause is also a good source, but I have noticed that many of the articles on information literacy are written from a librarian perspective.