What is authorship learning? Essentially, it’s a learning-by-doing model of self-authorship that serves as a lever to push students toward independent learning and critical thinking. Hodge, Magold and Haynes (2009) describe it as “questioning trusted authority and leaving the safety of comfortable ways of seeing the world to explore multiple perspectives and construct one’s own beliefs, values, and vision.”
Instructional design specialist, Jonan Donaldson, has taken authorship learning one step further (Daly, 2013). By harnessing participatory technologies, he combines self-authorship with a public audience.
This is an ideal approach to information literacy. Instead of writing traditional research papers that regurgitate what has been learned, students become creators of new knowledge. As Donaldson puts it, students “author” their creations, they “author” their own understandings of knowledge, and they participate in self-authorship. All for an authentic, public audience. This is a more effective approach to higher order thinking skills. It holds students responsible for creating something that is purposeful, insightful and well-written.
For librarians, the authorship learning model is way to fully integrate information literacy into a course. And it’s an opportunity for collaboration between librarians and classroom instructors.
There are many avenues to self-authorship, and they run the gamut from the informative to the creative (all of which require information literacy skills). Consider these ideas:
- Authoring new Wikipedia articles (not just editing and critiquing existing ones).
- Writing and publishing fan fiction.
- Contributing to networked novels (e.g. see Flight Paths by Kate Pullinger, Chris Joesph and others).
- Collaboratively creating an interactive, multimedia learning module (e.g. Learnist).
- Digital storytelling (e.g. Storybird).
- Contributing to open text books (e.g. Wikibooks).
Authorship learning pushes students to think for themselves, instead of being told how to think. It’s a bridge toward independent learning, and ultimately lifelong learning. And that’s what information literacy is all about.