/ 22 April 2005

There’s more to literacy than meets the eye

‘What is information literacy?” This is the title of one of the modules in the literacy courses offered by Technikon South Africa (TSA).

The faculty, called Literacies Plus, offers four certificate programmes: English Language Literacy (ELL), Library and Information Literacy (LLL), Academic Literacy (AL) and Computer Literacy (CL). ‘Each course is designed to be completed over one year. However, learners who are employed or who may need extra time may select modules to be completed in the first year and complete the rest in a second year. TSA is a distance learning institution, but some attempt will be made in the future to provide learners with a few face-to-face encounters – otherwise the learner works alone or within a study group of peer learners,” says faculty head Walter Greyvenstein.

ELL is designed to improve proficiency in English. ‘It upgrades students’ ability to understand, speak, read and write English and to think about what they have heard, read, said and written in English,” Greyvenstein says. Verbal skills (such as telephone etiquette), reading skills (like skimming and scanning) and writing skills (including the basics of punctuation, grammar and formats for different correspondence) are all focused on in module one.

Speech and voice quality in business is also one aspect covered, as are the differences between spoken and written forms in English. By the end of the LLL certificate, students should be able to use the library to access and process information. The concept of ‘information” is handled in some detail, looking at the value and systems of organisation for information, as well as information tools such as computers and libraries.

Two modules of six subjects each have to be completed.

AL is designed to equip learners ‘with specific academic skills for success at tertiary level. It includes topics such as reading and writing for academic purposes and the making of notes”. Also divided into two modules, subjects include: learning and knowledge; preparing for, and writing, assignments; motivation and memory; and making notes.

CP introduces the student to the principles of word processing and spreadsheets. The student receives computer based training using Microsoft Office. During the academic year the student has the choice either to work through the material on his/her own and/or attend a 40-hour practical training session at an approved training computer centre. At the end of the cycle the student completes a 3-hour practical examination. The practical component of the examination paper must be done in Microsoft Office (MS Word and Excel), but the assignments may be done on any suitable software.

‘Students who register for this module must have access to a computer, printer and the necessary software for more or less two hours per week,” Greyvenstein says.