Information Literacy

This past week a reference honoring Dr. King’s day on Edutopia-Google+ caught my attention. It quoted Dr. King stating: The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.

Given that, let’s examine a site dedicated to Dr. King: This site, which at first glance purports to honor Dr. King, is a deviously planned site designed to stray the novice and discredit Dr. King’s contributions to our society. One who promoted peaceful demonstrations and who wished for freedom and justice for all. After close examination one recognizes that this is a deceitful site that is intended to rewrite history, and plant the seeds of hate and doubt into the uninitiated’s mind. Who wrote this site? Who owns this site? How do we know? More about this later.

Young children lacking information literacy skills are vulnerable to such lures, unless they are trained with a keen eye and skilled in divergent thinking. Today, more than ever, educators need to, as Sir Ken Robinson puts it, focus on changing the education paradigms to thrive economically without loosing our cultural identity.

In the past we have had the luxury of accepting facts presented to us from reliable sources and field experts. However, today anyone is an instant publisher. One can readily form a collective or empathizers with a half-baked singular ideology, feeding and reinforcing their own thinking. Some research studies show that we are interested in just reconfirming our own beliefs and prejudices through our confirmation biases forming illusory correlations leading to polarization of ideologies and pluralistic ignorance.

Social networking, similar to any other disruptive force has the potential for positive as well as negative impact. The positive aspect of it is the abundance of data that would lead to clarity and transparency. However, synthesizing and analyzing the data to form information is the most critical stage of this process. Unless one has been trained to dissect ideas through mind mapping and brainstorming to gain insight and multiple perspectives on a given subject, we will remain vulnerable.

Steven Covey believes, seek first to understand, before you are understood. Using empathic listening to creating an atmosphere of caring, respect, and positive problem solving. Or as the saying goes, before walking in one’s shoes, you must first remove your own. Covey explains a great strategy to accomplish this through the Indian talking stick. Whereby, the speaker holds a token until he or she feels like they are understood, then passes the token.

Today we are on information overload. While there are systems in place that help categorize and tag the information, it is vital for students to have the tools and knowledge necessary to decipher this information. One of my favorites is Alan November’s site on information literacy, where he shares the following resources for 21st century learners:

With these tools, now let’ s go back and investigate the original questionable site:

  • Who wrote this site?
  • Who owns this site?
  • How do we know?

And what do you think was the intent?






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