What Exactly Is Information Literacy And What Role Does It Play In Education
Information literacy is the set of skills required to identify, retrieve, organize, and analyze information. It is something all students must learn to effectively complete research, and it’s a prevalent aspect of higher education. In the end, people with knowledge of information literacy are prepared to find the data they need for any decision or task in life. In essence, they’ve learned how to learn, which makes them better equipped to do so in all situations.
Why Is Information Literacy Important?
Through information literacy, students recognize that not all information is created equal. For instance, content on the Internet continually grows, but it doesn’t always come from credible sources. The problem with the Internet is that anyone can publish content for others to access. This means that there is a lot of bad information to sort through when performing research. It’s not always easy to determine which are credible, peer-reviewed sources, and which are not.
Students no longer go to encyclopedias and other books at the library to look up information; they instinctively go to the Internet. Information literacy helps students recognize misleading, out-of-date, or false information. It also helps them sort through the data and interpret it intelligently. Libraries full of books are still available and a valuable resource for students, but information literacy includes the Internet and beyond.
Who Needs to Learn Information Literacy?
Everyone has a certain level of information literacy education. For instance, elementary-age children know that they can turn to their teacher for any information they need. As people get older, they become more independent and find other sources of information, such as books, but primarily the Internet. There are varying levels of information literacy because it is a learned skill that must be practiced.
By the time a child enters high school, he or she should have a good grasp of information literacy. However, these skills should continue to improve and adapt through college and beyond. Many schools offer literacy classes that teach students how to research information for papers and find credible information that is backed by research.
What Skills Are Taught Through Information Literacy?
Information literacy isn’t something you can learn by reading a book; it takes hands-on practice. Published books are generally accepted as credible sources, but the Internet is one of the best places to practice information literacy.
Here is the information literacy process:
- Recognize problems and create questions
- Make a plan for finding information and solutions
- Formulate hypotheses and make predictions
- Find information and data from books and the Internet
- Evaluate the credibility of the sources (i.e. is the material peer-reviewed or held to an ethical standard?)
- Organize and synthesize all gathered information
- Make conclusions and process understanding
Information literacy is a skill set that is helpful for a lifetime. It helps people do well in school, work, and personal matters because they can recognize the difference between good information and bad information and evaluate situations from several perspectives. Everyone needs to know how to find answers to their questions, no matter what they may be. People who understand information literacy can solve almost any problem with precision and accuracy.