The Critical Importance of Digital Information Literacy

I get calls often from people in and outside of education inquiring about subject matter that can easily be accessed through the most basic tech function of all…searching. At times, I’ve even gotten a bit witty and sent them a link via “Let Me Google That For You” because in my mind, it’s not that hard to search. The difference is that I’ve been educated on the process of searching and validating so the idea of not knowing something that I need to know is a foreign concept.

In my non-edu life, information gathering is often limited to “googling it”. In most cases, if someone is well versed in search strategies, understanding how to deal with what they’ve learned both legally and creatively is non-existent. I have to be honest in saying that if the people that I knew actually went to the internet, I’d be a bit surprised…period. Believe or not, there are plenty of students, teachers and non-edu adults who have no idea that what they are looking for is only a search button away.

Yes, I said…teachers. (Please forgive me for the countless eyerolls of “Seriously, it’s online” that I gave in PLC)

“The Information” –> The Content

I listened to Kristy Vincent speak last week about the role of a teacher in terms of giving kids access to “the information”. She spoke about the days of the microfiche and endless hours searching the basements of libraries for information. If that sounded strange to you, it’s because those practices no longer exist for the most part. We have 24/7 access to information either in the comforts of our homes, schools, libraries or pockets. We know this because we “teach around it” daily.

How many of you will give students a benchmark test of “released test items” where the answers are also released online? (I’ve never understood this practice at all) How many lectures have you seen where the information is given from a teacher that kids or adults can look up themselves? Some of you are planning to do this tomorrow as evidenced by the ppt that you just finished.

In the traditional school setting, the teachers IS the giver of all information. Sadly, this practice leads kids to be programed to think the same. How can we change this perception? To be clear, the answer is not to “flip the information”…meaning the teacher gives it in a video. The answer is that instead of focusing on what we can give, focus on what kids can give themselves.

In other words, you don’t have to stand in front of or around students to provide perfect notes. Ask them questions and lots of them. Ask questions that lead to more questions. When those questions arise, ask more questions.

As you ask questions, step back and allow them to find the answers, discuss the results and manipulate them into a readable “undefined by you” format. Expect students to use their devices to do so and be okay with it.

The time invested in empowering kids to be the architects of their knowledge is well worth the time spent in getting there.

The role of the teacher is changing. We have to teach kids for an informational world where they can find it, validate it, manipulate it and create with it.

Oddly enough, as advanced and connected as we are…we aren’t there yet.

Let’s get there.


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