Tag Archives: life long learning

Becoming info-savvy : Information and critical literacy in the web world

This is the first of three posts which focus on information and critical literacy. This first post outlines the importance of developing information and critical literacy. The second post will give specific strategies and tools to use when evaluating information found online, while the third post focuses on verification of social media. Slides to support these blog posts are available on Slideshare.

The democratization of content creation is a wonderful thing; even as I type, I am enjoying the ability to publish to a worldwide audience. Thanks to the thousands of content creation and distribution platforms including WordPress, Scribd, Weebly, Storify, and of course YouTube just to name a few, millions of voices which might have never been heard have a channel to communicate their message. Content is being created at a mindblowing rate:
Click the image to open the interactive version (via http://pennystocks.la/).
Whereas previously content had to pass through extensive editorial processes prior to work being published, there is no such on the internet. Therefore we see just as much accurate as inaccurate information being posted online;

bogus tweet

Disturbingly, it’s not just the accuracy of assignments that are at risk by this spread of misinformation; in the past 90 days, according to this article by the Washington Post, 84 people have self-published Ebola e-books on Amazon; and almost all of them include information that’s either wildly misleading or flat-out wrong.

We need to develop skills in what Howard Rheingold calls ‘Crap’ Detection – knowledge of how to find and verify accurate, useful information – or basic information literacy for the internet age. This type of literacy is something which must be taught to students, and which must be brought to the attention of anyone who uses the internet as an information source – which, it seems, in Australia at least, is most people.

So what are these information literacy skills, and how do we learn them?
This series of posts attempts to outline some of the strategies, tips and tricks which can be applied to ensure the accuracy of information sourced from the internet; of course, much of it comes along with the fact that a little common sense goes a long way…

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by Ludie Cochrane

The multimodal nature of the internet allows users to create any version of truth. You might have seen the Dove Evolution video, where an attractive young woman is ‘transformed’ into a supermodel using photoshop; more recently, a human interest reporter Esther Honig wanted to see just how much culture influences beauty, and so she had the idea to ask 40 photo editors in 25 different countries to photoshop her picture.
“Make me look beautiful,” was the brief. The results show the amazing way the internet connects us, and the way technology can manipulate what we believe to be true.

For students, the internet is the dominant medium and place they go to for information. In a world of information overload, it is vital for students to not only find information but also determine its validity and appropriateness.

For teachers in particular, it is necessary to not only have these skills, but also to be able to educate students to become informed, literate, self directed learners, who are able to navigate effectively the information accessible on the internet. Mandy Lupton, in her research on inquiry and the Australian Curriculum, has found that inquiry skills and information literacy are embedded in the Australian Curriculum in the subject areas Science, History, Geography, Economics and Business, Civics and Citizenship, Digital Technologies and in the general capabilities Critical and Creative Thinking (CCT) and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) . A huge part of being an effective learner and being able to research critically is being able to determine what is quality information, and where to source it from; after all,

See more on Know Your Meme

Click here to access the next post which explores Alan November’s ‘REAL’ strategy, and provides tools and strategies to apply in order to verify information discovered online. The third and final post, on critical literacy and social media is available here.

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This is why I love the internet

It began for me a long time ago – a love of reading, of investigating, of learning new information. I read every book in our bookcase at home, visited the library (both school and public) and still I wanted more. I even read all of our World Book encyclopedias! When Mum and Dad bought our first computer, I was about 13, and a new world was opening up. One cd rom could hold mountains of information – and stuff like Encarta kept me going for a while…but then – in the early ’90s…came the internet!! Yes, it was slow at first – infuriatingly so – but wow – a bookshelf that never ran out! As the years have passed, and with the explosion of content sharing mechanisms such as blogs, and wikis, as well as tools that allow you to randomly access the wealth of material out there (StumbleUpon and Reddit, I’m looking at you) this bookshelf has grown richer and more involving. It has transformed from a one way channel of text to multiple streams of whatever multimedia you can dream of – images, videos, music, text…and the interactivity means that whenever you have a question – no matter how obscure, no matter how simple or complex – someone out there has an answer for you.

This morning, when I saw this:

Freezer Friday

Click on the image to see the entire album


I was reminded once again about the amazing sharing and the insights we can gain from this powerful tool. This guy is clearly a gifted cartoonist – and using his freezer as his canvas is genious – however just 20 years ago, his talents would never have been viewed by myself; particularly if he restricted himself to the freezer!! Today, I can not only enjoy his sketches, I can share them with you – and so will countless others.

The power of sharing our talents and wisdom via the internet never ceases to inspire me; and provides me with the tool to become a lifelong learner in ways I never could have imagined if I was born even 40 years earlier…this is why I love the internet!!!