What does it mean to be information literate? Debbie Abilock is a co-founder of noodle-tools and coauthor of the book, Growing Schools: Librarians as Professional Developers. In 2012, she wrote an article called, How can students know whether the information they find online is True-or Not? in this article she provides a basic layout for how to decide whether a person should trust an article they found online or not. In her article, she breaks it down to four main things. Number one: Author, what makes this author credible? Before anyone should take information from the internet as 100% fact, they should do a little research on the author. Find out if they have any biases on the topic that could have changed how the piece was written. See who the author is affiliated with and if they are written other things that have been reliable. For example, in this blog post, we are talking about Debbie Abilock and her article. I took the liberty of adding in a little bit of information about her and then linking her bio and the website she is affiliated with so that my readers can look up more information about her. Because of all her experience and the groups, she is affiliated with it’s a pretty good assumption that her information will be helpful and mostly accurate. Two: currency, how old is the source type? If the source of information you are using is ten years old it might be a good idea to find something a little more up to date. Debbie Abilock’s article was published in 2012. Although it is a few years old the information provided still seems to be accurate and helpful for our time period. Our world of internet and research hasn’t changed enough in the past few years that we would need to find a new article to read.
Number three: subject, how through is the coverage of the topic? Does the author go in depth and really provide a lot of information, statics, fact, and examples or do they just give a general description? With more information in the article comes more research from the writer and more research from the writer means more accurate and reliable information for the reader. Finally number four: Balance, is the coverage biased in any way? I brought this up when talking about researching the author, good information will be as biased free as possible. The author just presents the case and adds as little information with their own opinion as possible. This is what it means to be information literate. To be able to know what sources are reliable and what are not. When you can use these four tips to properly vet a site, you are choosing to be information literate. You want to make sure the information you are using is reliable and true, this can be done using the four steps above.
One thing that is very important is to teach young generations how to be information literate and how to use the four steps to do just that. In our modern age children are using the internet and new technology on a daily basis. We, as not just educators but as a country, need to teach our youth how to properly use the internet and glean the information they actually need. This can be done starting in elementary school when students have to do their “fourth-grade assignment on the ocean”, teachers can make part of their assignment to use the four tips up top on one of their sources. Doing this will help students think more about their sources and about the internet as a whole. It will help children realize at a young age that not everything on the internet is true. As the students reach middle school they are more than capable of doing research on their own and finding out if a source is reliable. Teachers need to incorporate the four steps or something similar into their assignments that way the ideas can be reinforced and students can truly become informational literal. By the time students get to high school and college, they should be more than able to find good reliable sources and be able to call themselves information literate. This is how we can create a generation of informational literate people.