An Information Literacy Skill Tree – My Poster Presentation for LILAC 2023

Over recent weeks I have been working on my poster presentation for the upcoming LILAC conference in Cambridge. Below you can find the abstract for the presentation if you’d like to find out more about what I am doing.


At City, University of London it has been observed that Information literacy is not a priority for students and engagement in voluntary teaching sessions low. The information literacy skill tree attempts to address this by motivating students with a challenge to be conquered.

A skill tree is a common feature of many video games (Spider-Man, 2018; Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, 2019). It defines a set of skills that are applicable to playable characters in the game and shows a route the player can take to develop that character which leads to in-game success. According to McGonigal (2012) the real world can learn from video games when engaging and motivating people. By emulating the strategies video game designers use we can improve information literacy teaching.

Wilson (2022) has used a skill tree to help manage the competencies and skills of a data analytics team, showing a successful real world application. Using the tree he was able to identify gaps in knowledge, improve staff development and better allocate tasks.

Applying a skill tree in a higher education setting is a novel method of presenting information literacy skills training to our students, giving them voluntary obstacles to overcome, providing clearer “missions”, and satisfying hands-on work (McGonigal, 2012, pp. 55-63).
Our poster will show the complete skill tree as designed by Library Services at City. Further information will be available to describe each branch and the teaching activity for that skill. The design of the tree takes its starting point from the Digital Information Literacy Framework currently being developed at City and refers to other IL frameworks (Coonan & Secker, 2011; SCONUL, 2011; JISC, 2018; Open University, 2022).

LILAC delegates will be presented with an opportunity to discuss, critique and develop the skill tree. Delegate feedback will help inform the project beyond this initial design phase and prepare it for full implementation for the next academic year. It is hoped that delegates will use this idea in their own institutions and help build a body of evidence about its effectiveness at engaging students with information literacy skills.

  • Coonan, E., & Secker, J. (2011). A New Curriculum for Information Literacy (ANCIL)- Curriculum and supporting documents.
  • Insomniac Games (2018) Spider-Man [Video Game]. Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • JISC (2018) Digital Capability Framework Available at: (Accessed: 09/11/2022)
  • McGonigal, J (2012) Reality is Broken: why games make us better and how they can change the world London: Vintage
  • Open University (2022) DIL Framework Available at: (Accessed: 09/11/2022)
  • Respawn Entertainment (2019) Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order [Video Game]. Electronic Arts
  • SCONUL (2011) The Seven Pillars of Information Literacy: the core model Available at: (Accessed: 09/11/2022)
  • Wilson, S (2022) ‘Bringing a bit of Skyrim into workplace competence development’, Playful Learning Conference, University of Leicester 6-8 July

2 thoughts on “An Information Literacy Skill Tree – My Poster Presentation for LILAC 2023

  1. Really interesting post, Richard. Am sure the poster will generate a lot of interest and spark some interesting discussions at LILAC – good luck with showcasing it and enjoy the conference!

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