Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The essentials of information literacy, Day #10--Searching and Evaluating like a Pro

To wrap up the best resources for information literacy, it is best to return to the beginning and walk through the appropriate sequence in searching and evaluating sources.

This is a process that must initially be taught, but should eventually be ingrained in all students and educators. And, it should not be limited to just English/research classes. Rather, it should be a constant force in all classes. When beginning any unit that asks students and educators to use sources/information, this process should be followed. And, sometimes, it is for activities as simple as building a model of the Empire State building in math class (you would have to research the structure of the Empire State building, and find information on the mathematical principals behind it). Hence, students and educators are required to find information daily. And, that information should be subject to a solid searching and evaluation process.

To begin, students and facilitators should:

  1. Have a topic (whether it is building a model of the Empire State building or researching the origins of the Holocaust)
  2. Build search/research questions from the topic
  3. From the questions, create keywords for searching
  4. Learn how search engines work
  5. Learn the different ways of searching (including Boolean searching, advanced search features, and filters)
  6. Choose the most appropriate search engine/master source to search
  7. Try out all keywords in the search engine/master source
  8. Save all search engine results for keywords that yield links that answer the initial search questions
  9. Begin the evaluation process with the saved search results
    1. Find the author--are they reputable?
    2. Find the date--is it recent?
    3. Find the source--who published it?
    4. Does it have a bias?
    5. Is it well cited?
    6. Who links to it?
    7. Does it all add up?
  10. If it all adds up, you can use the source and begin your citations and notes.
The rule of thumb for finding any information outside of a scholarly journal/book/encyclopedia is that the source should be as good or better than the academic articles. 

For help searching and learning about searching, consult these sites:

For help evaluating and learning about evaluating, consult these sites:
For general information on digital/information literacy, consult these sites:

Searching and evaluating are part of the 21st century skill--critical thinking. They are essential to success and must be taught within all disciplines. They are skills we use daily, but are often incompetent at. Let's great a generation of critical thinkers.

Stay turned for the 10 days of digital storytelling...

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