FOSIL was developed by Oakham School‘s Head of Library, Darryl Toerien.
FOSIL is based on the Empire State Information Fluency Continuum, which was developed by the New York City School Library System (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) while under the direction of Barbara Stripling. The New York City school district is the largest in the United States, with more than 1.1 million students in over 1,800 schools. Barbara Stripling, Professor Emerita of the iSchool at Syracuse University, is one of the pioneers of learning through inquiry. Another major influence on the development of FOSIL is Carol Kuhlthau, Distinguished Professor Emerita of the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University, whose ground-breaking work on describing the affective, cognitive and physical demands that inquiry makes of students adds a vital dimension to FOSIL.
Simply understood, FOSIL is a model of the inquiry process and an evolving framework of specific and measurable skills that enable each of the stages in the inquiry process.
The power of FOSIL lies in the simple and logical way that the stages combine to guide students through the inquiry process:
- Connect: knowledge builds on knowledge, so pausing to take stock of what you already know reveals more clearly what you do not yet know
- Wonder: gaps in what you know give rise to questions, some more fruitful than others
- Investigate: these questions guide your investigation, which is aimed at sourcing reliable information that you can work with
- Construct: this is the point of learning by finding out for yourself – building knowledge and understanding from information in response to the questions that you have
- Express: once you know what you are talking about, you need to be able to share it appropriately, effectively and ethically
- Reflect: Doug Engelbart said it best when he said that the better we get at getting better, the faster we will get better, and this is desperately needed in a world facing increasingly complex and urgent challenges
It is in the nature of educators to share, all the more so if you believe that what you have to share makes the world of difference to quality of children’s learning. It turns out that this view is shared by an increasingly large number of librarians, teachers and school leaders. Soon, FOSIL emerged at the centre of a growing community of education professionals heading in a similar direction – inquiry as an approach teaching children to learn for themselves. To more effectively support this growing community, and to increase its effectiveness, Oakham School has invested, and continues to invest in, and lay the foundations for the FOSIL Group, which is centred on a website that will allow its members to collectively develop their understanding of learning through inquiry, and to collaborate on designing and sharing resources to support learning through inquiry. Crucially, the FOSIL Group has been founded on the principle that made it possible in the first place – we give freely because we received freely. Membership is free; if you wish to join and help shape the unfolding conversation, please register for the Forum.
For a fuller treatment of the history of FOSIL, please see E&L Memo 0 | Developing inquiring minds: a journey from information through knowledge to understanding in the Epistemology & Learning Memos.