OLJ Task: Authentic Information in a Socially Networked World

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Task: Based on your readings on issues related to finding authentic information within a socially networked world, identify two essential take-home messages that you believe will inform your work as an information professional.

Based on the readings, the first essential take-home message for me is one that relates to spam. It is clear from the readings that spam is an increasing issue and can adopt new formats in social network sites such as Twitter. Yardi, Romero, Schoenebeck and Boyd point to the effects that spammers can have in the Twitter universe by doing such things as retweeting and changing legitimate links to illegitimate ones (2010). The authors also make the point that spam accounts are hard to detect and that spammers ‘invest a lot of time in following other users (and hoping other users follow them back)’ (2010). This has two implications for me as an information professional working with young people. Firstly, when promoting library services in social network sites I need to be aware of spam accounts and what they are capable of. Secondly, in my experience, the young people I work with are very trusting online, so I need to better educate people about the dangers of spam (and other potentially serious consequences) of using social networking sites.

As a result of the readings, the second take-home message for me is one that relates to information literacy and critical thinking skills. Lorenzo writes of three primary skills that young people need; basic information technology skills, information literacy skills and critical thinking skills (2007, p.2). Lorenzo points to the fact that search engines are the most popular choice when looking for information and that young people ‘are at sea, drowning in a pool of information, looking for life preservers’ (2007, p.3). It is clear from this that guiding students when searching for and evaluating information is a critical need of learners today. Wittenberg adds to this message saying that librarians must see themselves as ‘partners’ with students when teaching students how to conduct research because students understand the ‘new ways in which people engage in research, communicate and learn’ (2007). Therefore the take-home message for me is two-fold; students need to better understand how to navigate the web and other sources when searching for and critically evaluating information. However, students may easily switch off if the teacher assumes the role of the all-knowing guide. Therefore, teachers must work together with students to better learn to navigate and evaluate the vast array of information that is now available at the click of a button.

References:

Yardi, S., Romero, D., Schoenebeck, G. & Boyd, D. (2010). Detecting spam in a Twitter network, First Monday, 15(1), 4 January. Available http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2793/2431

Lorenzo, G. (2007). Catalysts for change: Information fluency, Web 2.0, Library 2.0, and the new education culture. (March). Retrieved from http://www.edpath.com/images/IFReport2.pdf

Wittenberg, K. (2007). Credibility of content and the future of research, learning, and publishing in the digital environment. The Journal of Electronic Publishing, 10(1). Available  http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=jep;cc=jep;rgn=main;view=text;idno=3336451.0010.101

 

 

Information Literacy – A Reflection

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Completing the readings on information literacy has really made me understand how much schooling has changed since I was in high school (12 years ago). In that relatively short time period the changes have been immense. With the rise of the internet and other technologies there truly is so much information out there. However, unlike when I was in school and books and encyclopedias were the main research methods, the information available now is not always from a reliable source. I now realise that students need to be taught to be critical receivers of this information and be able to sort through the vast amount of information and sometimes be able to understand the conflicting viewpoints about the same topic that may be present in the information. 

I did not consider this initially when enrolling in the TL course. My expectation was that teacher librarians needed to teach students how to use various technologies. I had not, however, considered that TLs need to teach student to be critical receivers of such technologies. This was an exciting revelation for me and I am looking forward to the challenges that my new role will bring.

Information Literacy

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I found the readings for topic four very good for a number of reasons. Firstly, they were obviously extremely helpful for assignment one when attempting to define an information literate school community. Secondly, I had no idea that the term can encompass such a broad range of meanings. I was also unaware of the fact that the term is constantly changing/evolving with the advent of new technologies (though in hindsight that makes a lot of sense.) I think the Langford article made getting my head around the term ‘information literacy’ much clearer for me.

As a result of this and working on assignment one I realise that I need to improve my own information literacy skills. I am now making steps in my classroom (and in my professional development) to try and teach students to be more critical receivers of the broad range of information available to them.

Assignment Reflection Part Three

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A surprising element – I found this assignment (and indeed this course) has had a positive impact on my learning, particularly in the area of information literacy. Before enrolling in this course I had never blogged and had not undertaken much online research (when I did my undergraduate degree the focus was on print material.) I initially found navigating the EBSCO database challenging but I got there. It has been excellent to extend myself and learn new things that I can transfer into the classroom.