Sonoma County Office of Education

Technology for Learners

Information Literacy Skills are
More Important Than Ever

Author: Rick Phelan
Published: 03.19.13

Books, eReaderThe world has never had as much written material as it does today. Sources of information include traditional print materials (books, magazines, pamphlets, and billboards) and now electronic resources (web pages, blogs, listservs, tweets, and videos). We are constantly receiving information of one kind or another—and so are our students.

The information we receive has a multitude of purposes. Sometimes we’re acquiring new knowledge. At other times, we’re being entertained. Some written material informs us that our lives will be perfect if we have a new car or that people will like us more if we use a special toothpaste. There are messages that advance a political cause or personality, and others that promote hatred, racism, sexism, and other negative views. Because of this vast diversity of written information, reading and thinking skills are more important than ever before.

Librarians have long maintained that we must teach students to look at Internet resources critically. Some points of consideration should include:

  • Purpose: What’s the main idea or goal behind a source? Does a website site exist to inform or to persuade? Why does this person tweet?
  • Author: Who is the information author? What is the author’s education, training, or experience to write with authority on the topic. Check site documents or external sources to find out more about the author.
  • Content: Is the content ‘fair and balanced’? Does the information seem reasonable given what you know about the subject? Is it biased? Does the author have a "vested interest" in the topic?

Teaching students to pose questions such as these supports the Common Core Standards and their emphasis on deep reading and comprehension.

Practical Ideas to Promote Information Literacy, April 16
More insight on information literacy and strategies for weaving this important area into learning will be shared by Connie Williams, Petaluma High School librarian and former president of the California School Library Association on Tuesday, April 16, 4:00 to 7:00pm, at the Sonoma County Office of Education. For information about this activity or to sign up to attend, visit the SCOE website.

Blog: Technology for Learners