April 19th Provisions Session Summary: “Teaching Information Literacy in the Age of Google”

**The access the audio recording from the session, click here!**

Our last Provisions session of the Spring Semester explored the theme of” Teaching Information in the Age of Google.” Presenters shared previous experience with teaching courses dealing with literacy, and effective strategies for improving success for a diverse range of college students. An audience of approximately 35 faculty and staff members attended to hear presentations from Steve Black, LibrarianCailin Brown, Department of Communications, and a joint presentation from Elizabeth Yanoff, Department of Teacher Education and Mary Lindner, Librarian. 

Steve Black from the Library kick started the session by presenting on “Information Literacy: An evolving perspective.” Steve first provided the audience with an overview of the new definition, standards, and framework for the evolving category of “Information Literacy.” Information literacy can be defined as “a cluster of interconnected core concepts, with flexible options for implementation, rather than a set of standards or learning outcomes, or any prescriptive enumeration of skills.” This new definition of information literacy is brand new, as it was just recently adopted in January. Steve stated that following the evolving definition, information literacy is now more difficult to assess in practice. Included in the new framework for information literacy are:

  • Threshold concepts, which are like “aha moments”
  • Authority, which is considered both constructed and contextual, as opposed to strictly peer reviewed articles
  • Information creation is a process and has value
  • Research should be inquiry based
  • Scholarship as conversation, meaning that students should contribute to the knowledge conversation
  • Searching as strategic exploration

Next to present was Cailin Brown from the Department of Communications. Cailin started off by explaining how she introduces the concept of journalism to her students. She discusses the elements of journalism and then asks her students, “why journalism?” Throughout the course, Cailin will take her students on a walk around the neighborhood, which allows them “to get up and get looking.” For the fall semester, she will take the students early on in the course, and for the spring semester this will happen towards the end (due to weather conditions). Exploring the surrounding neighborhood allows her students the opportunity to make connections between the college and community. In opposition of the “stranger danger” rule, Cailin encourages her students to strike conversation with strangers. Cailin stated that by simply asking one question, you can learn an abundance about an individual, as people are very willing to share information when asked. In addition to community experience, Cailin exposes her students to the legal aspect of journalism by working closely with a local lawyer, Bob Freeman. Bob Freeman assists Cailin in teaching her class how to access public information, such as fire records. In ending her presentation, Cailin shared these two examples of her students’ journalism work that is published on The Pine Hills Blog:

Cailin also shared the website, The Committee on Open Government, which provides additional  information on the freedom of information.

Lastly, Elizabeth Yanoff from the Department of Teacher Education and Mary Lindner from the Library presented on three different ways of examining information literacy. Elizabeth and Mary reiterated the new standards of information literacy, but focused on content area reading, disciplinary literacy, and new literacies.

1. Content area reading refers to before, during, and after processes of reading comprehension.  For this type of reading, K-12 educators typically use KWL charts, which allow the students to reflect on what they already know, what they want to know, and what they learn from the particular reading. For the ECE 230 course at the college, Elizabeth discussed how she requires her students to review and edit their writing. This process encourages her students to locate their topic sentences, reflect on how their ideas were developed, and create an appropriate conclusion. 

2. Disciplinary literacy focuses on skills that are discipline specific and inquiry based. Work in a specific discipline is able to be contextualized. Educators of a discipline are able to view writing as an objective and have specific skills that allow them to excel in their discipline. Educators must be aware that their speciality allows them to view literacy with a discipline specific lens.

3. New literacies refers to the new age of digital literacy. Mary spoke about the research that Donald Leu and his colleagues have done regarding the digital age. Leu and his colleagues found that researching information should be treated like problem-solving. This means that students should identify important questions, locate relevant information, critically evaluate information, synthesize the information, communicate effectively, and monitor/evaluate along the way. Florida Memory is an online platform where students can explore specific skills needed for online learning, such as audio and video. Mary and Elizabeth spoke about how this online resource shows students how to access information, how to narrow results, and how to navigate online websites. Other online resources that are utilized for information literacy include Wimba and ZOOM (which were mentioned in the previous session, “Teaching Online.”Elizabeth shared a recent example of how she utilized technology as an online learning platform when class was cancelled due to the snow conditions. For the missing class, Elizabeth required her students to complete an online WIKI, post on Pinterest, engage in an online discussion, and post on the blog.

Following the brief presentations, the floor was opened up for discussion and questions from the audience. Here are a few points and observations that arose from the discussion:

  • There are an infinite number of stories to be written in journalism
  • There are connections across the themes of this session and the previous session about online learning
  • Suggestions to support learners across disciplines include:
    • Making more connections across work together as professors
    • All writing includes literacy skills, therefore all should teach information literacy
    • Professors should improve their communication and collaboration
    • Use the same “language” and ideas in all disciplines
  • Students are novices in their discipline and need to be taught how to prioritize information
    • Professors need to remember what it was like to be a novice, and be aware of how that can influence their work
  • How can we get support across discipline incorporated into the Liberal Education program?
  • How to get students from point A to point B?
    • Disperse information throughout the curriculum
  • How to encourage student inquiry but maintain boundaries?
    • This is a constant balancing act
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