Monday, September 27, 2004

Information Literacy Primer. This is an excellent overview to information literacy is by Kathy Schrock. It appeared in Edutopia which is a publication of the George Lucas Educational Foundation.

From the site:

The concepts underlying information literacy are not new. The idea that students must first decide what type of information they need, figure out where to find the information, consider how to find the information, and then determine if the information meets their needs, has always been the basis of the traditional research cycle. It used to be easy -- students used an encyclopedia or other print reference source to acquire a knowledge base about their topic, used a periodical guide to locate relevant magazine and journal articles, and finally used books to gather in-depth information dealing with their topic.

The concepts underlying information literacy have not changed. However, the sources available to gather information have exploded to include online material including Web sites, e-zines, and direct communication with experts. The process of gathering information has not changed, either. Students still need to figure out what information they are looking for, use a source to acquire a knowledge base in that topic, search and evaluate the information they find, and compare it to what they already know about the topic to see if it meets their needs.

The Questioning Process

With the huge amount of information available, both in print and on the Web, students now, more than ever, need to define their topic very carefully before beginning a search. A broad topic such as "farming in the 1930s" will retrieve huge amounts of information, while a topic such as "the effect of the Dust Bowl on migration patterns in the United States" will present the student with a manageable amount of information when searching. Identification of keywords, synonyms, and search strategies should be done before going on the Web.

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