When it comes to finding sources to use online there are many things we must consider; Who wrote it? Who published it? and who has read it or peer-reviewed it? Sadly, most of our students don’t know how to do this online. Looking at books or journals or even articles are easy to determine if they are credible. Just looking at the book or looking at the back where they show reviews, we can easily tell if we can use it or not.
When we open up a search engine and look up a phrase we see hundreds of thousands of results. How do we narrow this down? How can we tell if it is credible? This is hard when you have hundreds or thousands of results. Can we define what it means to be information literate? I think that we can try to be information literate. The problem is that there is so many different ways that we can obtain information. Because of this I don’t think anyone can be literate in information. There is just so much. No one can know and be able to identify all the credible information in the world. But we can try our hardest to be good at it.
What are the skills need to be informational literate? Well I was intrigued by the way that Debbie Abilock described the skills in her article True or not. She described it as 4 different skills a person must have to be informational literate. The skills include being able to:
Judging Importance: Who’s Weighing in?
Judging Trustworthiness: Who’s Setting the Record Straight?
Judging Accuracy: What Do Other Sources Say?
Judging Info-graphics: Who’s Behind the Chart?
I believe that these skills are the essentials to becoming informational literate. I am sure that we can try and teach our students these skills. But for them to truly learn in like second nature….they must practice using the skills. The only way for them to do this is to be assigned to look up resources for projects or papers. For example, if we teach kids how to find sources rather than just how to cite them, we are already helping them build upon these skills. I believe that if we surround them with an environment where they must use resources, whether online or from a book, it will help them learn these skills. All students have the capability of learning these skills they just have to practice using these skills in ways that they see beneficial.
Fellow teachers and future teachers, I ask you to try and find ways for even the little ones to use resources. You don’t have to show them how to cite quite yet. At least let them dip their toes in the pool of finding resources. For example, when they do a paper or presentation about frogs. Have them have one resource from a book and one from online. Have a library day where they all go to the computer lab and the librarian helps them find credible resources. Just help them dip their toes into the pool, it couldn’t hurt. Remember that we can’t truly prepare them for the internet and all the resources they could find. Except, we can guide them through their journey, show them what to look out for and how to use this incredible resource responsibly and effectively. Remember us teachers, we are not digital natives, we are still learning ourselves.
Here is a resource for students
Here is a resource for teachers