This is an article of activism, application and intervention. It offers new models and modes of teaching and learning by aligning information literacy, media literacy and multiliteracy. The priority is on learning outcomes rather than technological choices, and social justice rather than transferable skills. These are not - obviously - 'either/or' categories, but the author wishes to shift thinking to demonstrate the diversity of assessment options that can activate the insights and innovations of literacy theory. The aim is to show, through examples and applications in university assessment, how students can move from everyday competencies and skill development and into disciplinary and transdisciplinary scholarship. With public funding under threat, the time for 'easy' technological solutions to complicated problems in widening participation agendas requires renewed commitment to literacy, professional development and academic expertise.