Information Literacy

Information literacy is defined as a set of abilities requiring you to be able to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information" (ALA, 2012). Does this definition describe you? Below is a test of your information literacy skills.

The Crisis in Egypt

We are hearing on the news about the crisis in Egypt. Egypt has been embroiled in violence amid clashes between security forces and Morsy supporters. Egypt has been a central focus over the past several months. The information literate exercise below is an interesting activity allowing you to become more familiar with this global crisis - from the people involved to the impact it has on world. As you move through the activity, think about how this is different than watching the evening news or reading your local paper to gain information.
GoogleEarth is a tool that is a free download (e.g. an application that you download and then load onto your computer). This application allows you to virtually zoom into locations around the globe to get a close up of the landscape. From an instructional standpoint, this application provides a visual and an interactive location for students to grasp new concepts of time and space or simple geography. This can be a benefit when talking about the world with your students.

Your Turn

Go to GoogleEarth and download the software necessary to interact with this tool. Note: If you do not want to download the software on your home computer, you can go to the Stafford Campus Library or our INDT computer lab (STNB RM124) and use the software.
  1. Download: Go to: to download GoogleEarth. Once you have this software downloaded, open it and search for Egypt. The world will spin and locate Egypt. Zoom in to get a close-up of this area of the world. What do you see?
  2. Go to your favorite search engine, such as Google, to learn more about the country, its history, culture, its people, etc. What did you find out?
  3. Read personal stories by finding blog postings from reporters or family members of people living in Egypt. What search strategies would you use to find this important information? How did this new personal information change the story you are uncovering?

Now it is time to reflect. Is this different than your usual information gathering techniques? For many of us, the answer is yes. Digging deeper into a topic, in this case Egypt and the current conflict, makes you a better informed citizen. It forces you to think about search terms, to decipher information from varying viewpoints and resources, and to then think about the information obtained in dynamic ways.

Throughout this inquiry process, you looked a varying types of information and media to obtain information such as video, personal blog postings, news sites, and images. When you look at varying types of information, you must interpret the information from each source instead of the news anchor interpreting it for you.

The idea of information literacy is to explore issues, ideas, and opinions in more detail, from a variety of sources and viewpoints, in order to make an informed decision. To do this, you must have the skills to gather all types of information from visual, text, sound, personal, primary, secondary, in order to better synthesize and analyze.

This brief orientation sums up the often heard idea of 'lifelong learning'. A lifelong learner is self-directed, explores and investigates information, looks at various and different points of view, and is able to change opinions and ideas when they are well informed. This is also what we in education like to call a '21st Century learner' or 'a critical thinker'. Moving beyond the surface, digging deeper, asking important questions from a variety of sources.

What does this mean for you, the teacher? Every teacher must be well informed in order to help their students become better informed. Are you ready?
Share your Thoughts >>> Post your reflection about being information literate (your experience, thoughts, etc.) in this VoiceThread to share with others.