Web 2.0 Meets Information Fluency: An Introduction

coa.jpgcoa2.jpg For anyone wondering where I disappeared to over the past couple of weeks, I have three fairly solid excuses:

  1. School started
  2. That dissertation stuff
  3. I was completing a chapter for the second edition of Terry Freedman’s e-book (Terry calls it a “booklet), Coming of Age. You’ll find the current table of contents here–http://web2booklet.blogspot.com/. I’m flattered to be considered among so many visionaries and I can’t wait to read all of their pieces–content most of our journals will not publish till months from now.

The piece forced me to reflect on the new opportunities Web 2.0 presents for working to improve the information literacy skills of today’s learners.

With Terry’s permission, I will be posting sections of the chapter.

Web 2.0 Meets Information Fluency

When they leave our schools, today’s learners will not be called upon to create widgets. They will be called upon to work together to thoughtfully use and create knowledge products.To be most effective, workers of the future will need to creatively blend several relatively traditional skills with emerging information and communication tools. And they will need to practice those skills in an information landscape that is genre-shifting, media-rich, participatory, socially connected, and brilliantly chaotic. To be most effective, students will need understandings of traditional information structures as well as understandings of the shifts in the way knowledge is built and organized

Two threads

Through my librarian visioning glasses, I see two threads—information fluency and Web 2.0– beautifully woven into rich 21st century cloth as teachers and librarians who value thinking skills, inquiry, ethical behavior, and innovative student work hone their craft on a funky and vibrant 21st century learning loom, with learners as collaborators.

About that new thread—Web 2.0–it is colorful and dynamic. Its fabric reveals new opportunities for collaborations, creation of media, and interactions with audiences never before imagined. Our learners already use this thread, the emerging collaborative communication tools of the 21st century. The November 2005 Pew Internet & American Life Study (http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_Teens_Content_Creation.pdf) revealed that 57% of teens who use the internet could be considered content creators. These 12 to 17-year olds have created a blog or webpage, posted original artwork, stories or videos online, or remixed online content into new artistic creations (Lenhart and Madden, 2005).

About that other thread. . . The traditional strand—information literacy– is a sturdy material. It is fiber that many of us digital immigrants carried over in our trunks from the old country. It too deserves to be unpacked and shared–woven through instruction and learning.

Information literacy or fluency is the ability to effectively and ethically use and create information. Although it has been described in various ways through various models, it is generally considered a process in which students (and the rest of us) recognize a need for information; formulate questions based on those needs; identify potential information sources; develop strategies for physically and intellectually accessing information; evaluate, analyze, synthesize and organize new information with existing knowledge; and effectively, ethically and creatively communicate new knowledge.

When we discuss information literacy, we are discussing the application of information problem-solving and decision-making skills in situations learners face in all their subject areas and in their lives beyond our classrooms.

Information literacy competencies are process skills. They will grow with students, even when current search tools and platforms are obsolete, when we move beyond Web 2.0. These skills have legs. They will serve learners even when they forget how to balance a chemical equation or how to solve for X. They prepare students to learn to learn.

Information fluencies are embraced by the American Association of School Librarians and the Association for Educational Communications and Technology in their Information Literacy Standards for Student Learners (http://www.ala.org/ala/aasl/aaslproftools/informationpower/InformationLiteracyStandards_final.pdf). They are woven through the International Society for Technology in Education’s (ISTE) National Educational Technology Standards (http://www.iste.org/Template.cfm?Section=NETS) , as well as the ICT Literacy Maps of the Partnership for 21st Century Learning (http://www.21stcenturyskills.org/). They are also woven through the standards documents of most disciplines.

So, how do we interpret traditional skills for a chaotic, exciting, multimodal, socially mediated information 2.0 landscape? And how does our instruction shift as the information landscape evolves?

More next time!

3 thoughts on “Web 2.0 Meets Information Fluency: An Introduction

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  2. Joyce, we’re working at the same loom. I’ve been writing curriculum for the 21st Century Information Fluency Project for some time.

    The ‘warp and woof’ of all the work is to help everyone become fluent when it comes to searching, evaluating, and ethically using digital information.

    What I’ve struggled with is how to bring web 2.0 content into the classroom and still give educators a chance to monitor and shelter students as they practice the search/evaluate/ethical use process.

    We’ve been developing flash based online Search Challenge games as one way to do this. Most of our games do focus on searching, although we have new games teaching evaluation skills in development.

    We’re distributing the new games via our new Full Circle Resource Kit. Everything is free and we hope you’ll help us spread the word through this terrific blog.

    Keep us the great work!

    Dennis O’Connor
    21Cif Team