The sum of all human knowledge – a daunting amount I might add – is online today. So what are you and I, or even more importantly, our learners, to do?
Information literacy is a serious skill our learners must master. It’s not enough to show them how to find the information. Our learning facilitators need to help prepare them for three things: access, retrieval and evaluation. Here’s a bit more about each of the three:
- Access: The day is here to provide our learners with a device and Internet access. I have talked about what a game-changer this is … and it is now more affordable than ever.
- Retrieve: With so much information on the Internet, a learner must know how to conduct a proper search that will cull or cultivate from the massive information available.
- Evaluate: Once a learner conducts a proper search, there still needs to be an evaluation of the information. Who, what and where did this information come from? Are there any inherent weaknesses or biases in this information? Will it meet the necessary rigor for my research project?
After the above is provided and taught, I suggest there are more Cs that come into play other than the usual 4 (Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication and Collaboration). They are:
- Curating: A curator must select from among any number of possible pieces for an exhibit. While the best is one option, a curator might select other pieces or, in the case of our learner – research – to make a point or take a visitor in a different direction. Think RSS Feed – I am the curator of what I want pushed to me to read. I curate using Feedly. How do you curate on the Web?
- Culling: To cull is to select or choose from a group and is often referenced in terms of managing animal populations. The process is to reject something as being inferior or worthless. Another farming example is removing the best apples, without bruises, and using the culls for cider. How might our learners cull content and create a textbook from among the best information online?
- Cultivating: Imagine the previous two Cs playing out in a classroom where the learners are to create a textbook. If the sum of all human knowledge is online, why would you ever consider buying the hard copy or digital textbook? Our learners should cultivate a book as a collaborative class assignment. Imagine the current chapter of any textbook you are using. What if you divided the section among various teams of learners and set them loose to find better information, videos, facts and images?
That example is the perfect marriage of information literacy and some other Cs. It is also an excellent example of how a teacher becomes a learning facilitator. The learning facilitator creates the need to produce a new textbook, sets the parameters and facilitates. Consider what might be your expectations for peer review prior to accepting a section of the book? Who might be your authors? Illustrators? Editors? Researchers? All learners could work in specific roles, yet would collaborate on the final product before approaching the learning facilitator to review.
The sum of all human knowledge is at their fingertips – at our fingertips – now. We cannot afford to wait when it comes to helping our learners navigate the information within their reach. They are visiting YouTube and Google just as much as we are, if not more, and it's our duty to facilitate their mastery of information literacy, like any other skill critical to their success now and in the future. After all, the next time we Google or YouTube a video on a home repair project, we could be watching one they’ve created …
What other information literacy skills should our learners possess? Share your thoughts below.