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Information Literacy


We live in what has been called the information age. There is so much information out there that sometimes we can get overwhelmed. Because of the volume of information we need to become informed or literate consumers of the information.

Critical thinking is a skill that students are expected to develop during their studies. Information literacy is one component of critical thinking. When we talk about information literacy, we often look at the World Wide Web.

While the Web has been a boon in many areas, it has also created massive amounts of information. Some of the information is valid and good, some is pure garbage. Remember that anyone can put anything on the Web. It can have no basis in fact and no foundation. JUST BECAUSE IT IS ON THE WEB DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE INFORMATION IS CORRECT OR VALID OR GOOD.

When you look at a website (or any piece of information for that matter), there are several questions you should ask. The first question you should ask is who owns and funds the website. Who puts the information on the site? From what source does the information come? Does the author have any credentials? For example, merely having a particular disease does not make you a true expert. Is a site supported by independent research? Does the owner/writer have an agenda of their own? For example, the Church of Scientology has a particular agenda and set of beliefs. They post a personality inventory on their website. What should you do with the results of that test? Is it objective? Would a personality test published by the American Psychological Association be less biased? These are some of the issues which we must consider when looking at websites.

The BIG question is what to do with the information on websites. If information is slanted or unsupported, then we must be more cautious about what we do with that information. Using such information to support claims does not strengthen your assertion.

One helpful website with resources for examining the question of information literacy is the Widener University site. Visit it and read their resources.

http://www2.widener.edu/Wolfgram-Memorial-Library/inform.htm