Maybe information literacy is the answer to (some of) our woes?

I recently finished a graduate course on issues affecting higher education, and I wrote my final paper on Information Literacy (IL for short). The concept’s been called several different things over the years, or parts of it, at least – critical thinking, library literacy, source proofing, skepticism, etc. IL is all of that and more, as a way of thinking about the world around you and having the skills to be able to not only critically think about a source, but to be able to find the information you need given your level of accessibility. It’s a bit like understanding that a Hollywood star probably isn’t the best person to get vaccination information from, regardless if she has a bunch of likes on her YouTube video, or being able to trace a “fact” seen on Facebook back to it’s original source. Or even just being willing to use Google for 10 seconds to see what other sources might be reporting a particular event.

It would seem IL, and gaining skills to navigate our crazy, digital world, is overwhelming and unending. Because our world is constantly changing, and the speed of that change is increasing all the time, Information Literacy isn’t a set of skills our can just “get” and be done with. Not only does the information change, but how to access it changes. For a lot of people, it’s simply just too much work to make sure the information you believe to be true is actually correct, and they wouldn’t know how to go about checking that, anyway.

A lot has already been written on how to gain these skills, so I won’t repeat their work here. But for just a taste of the herculean task of how to acquire this skill (much less learn the traditional content matter, remember I’m a college professor), here’s the American Library Association’s Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, which does a much better job of breaking down what information literacy is and how to teach it than I can in a blog.

I’ll write more in a bit, but I seem to be having trouble accessing my posts from the visitor side. So, if you see this, leave a comment? Thanks.

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Drs. Dana Pertermann & Mark Neels

Friends, colleagues, and sparing partners, Drs. Dana L. Pertermann and Mark A. Neels collaborate on research in military history, politics, and culture. They are currently both college professors in Wyoming. They blog weekly about the past, the present, and the future of the U.S. and the world.

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