Teaching and Learning

Look Both Ways Before Accepting Information as Truth

November 12, 2019

When I say the term “information literacy” what comes to mind? For most, they think of research … perhaps for an academic paper or maybe to double check the facts during a presidential debate.

But information literacy is sooo much more than that. The United States National Forum on Information Literacy defines information literacy as “… the hyper ability to know when there is a need for information, to be able to identify, locate, evaluate, and effectively use that information for the issue or problem at hand.” Wikipedia

“To know when there is a need for information” is an interesting phrase. In school, students are usually told what information is needed because it’s part of an assignment. But how does that connect to life?

Offer Up

My boyfriend loves to search for deals on Offer Up. Even if it’s nothing we need, he’ll consider purchasing it if the price is right.

So he got pretty excited when he saw this beauty posted for sale.

In class, students are learned to check out the webpage to test validity. When was it posted? Is there an author listed? Is the website a credible source?

Using this criteria, John would have determined that the trailer was credible. The post was new. Contact information and trailer details were included, and Offer Up is a well-known site.

But it wasn’t credible. It was a scam.

How did John know? He decided to do a lateral search. He looked at other items for sale by the seller. Lo and behold, the exact same posting was listed in many major cities. His ability to realize when there is a need for information saved us from being scammed out of a thousand dollars.

Look Both Ways Before Crossing the Street

Children are taught to look both ways before crossing the street. Left, right, left again.. then cross. When checking information and data validity, the same rule applies. Students should be able to recognize when there is a need for information and act accordingly.

It’s not enough to scroll up and down a site, like often taught. There is also a need to look left and right by opening new tabs and seeing what else is being said about the data… or what else is being sold on Offer Up!

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