Information Literacy

David Rose, character on CBC's Schitt's Creek, is talking to his sister. He clutches his keys and phone to his face, exclaiming: "This is A LOT of information to process."

Information literacy requires learners to be able to “find, interpret, evaluate, manage and share information” found online (JISC, 2014). On the internet, information is abundant, and it can be created by anyone, for any purpose, without a requirement for fact-checking.

Online learners often spend a lot of time navigating information on the internet. While course content is typically provided to the learner in some form (lecture notes, videos, etc.), learners are often required to supplement that content with independent learning. Without the instructor in close proximity, online learners will often turn to the internet to find additional information or seek clarity on a concept. Particularly, as the instructor is often not readily available to answer questions or correct misinformation, the online learner needs to know how to find credible information online, and how to apply it to the exact scenario or concept they are learning.

As with face-to-face learners, online learners also need to know how to find, interpret and evaluate online information for the purposes of completing assignments. They need to understand how to conduct internet searches that will help them narrow in on the exact information they are looking for, and how to determine if information is credible. Since online learners consume so much of their course content online, they also need to know how to manage that information so that they can find it again when needed. This may involve saving academic papers using a citation software such as Zotero or RefWorks, using a social bookmarking tool such as Diigo or Pocket, or developing their own tracking system in OneNote or Microsoft Word.

The MOOC doesn’t take an in-depth look at the skills required for information literacy. They identify “finding reliable sources of information” as a key skill for online learning, and they discuss internet searches as a common tool of online learning, but they don’t provide any additional content to help the learner learn how to determine what is reliable, or how to conduct effective online searches. The learner is left to figure that out on their own. They do, however, require the learner to exercise information literacy skills at several points in the course. Activities at the end of each section often ask students to find information or resources on the internet to share with their classmates, such as “search the web and find definitions or examples of what is meant by the term knowledge” or “locate a YouTube video that demonstrates an example of one of the four learning theories presented in this section.” Since it is not a graded assignment, however, learners do not receive any feedback on the quality or veracity of the resources they share, unless a peer decides to provide assessment.

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Learning To Learn Online Copyright © by Nicole Crozier and Joanna Lake is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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