Digital Literacy: Information Literacy

Google scholar

Information literacy skills are those that are required to determine the quality of a source. But not only this, information literacy skills can aid in your searching for the correct information. By being able to filter out the plethora of information available on the Internet, you can improve your knowledge and increase your effectiveness in searching. The difficulties were using search engines on the Internet is that a lot of the information is not peer-reviewed. There are a lot of opinionated pieces that are taken as evidence (such as this blog for example, although I try my best).  Take a minute to think about what search engines you use. Or even what search engines you’re aware of. Have you heard of Google scholar? Or have you heard of NICE ES?

By using the correct search engine will be able to find the correct information. A go-to search engine for me is Google Scholar, I know when using this I will only see search results based on academic Journal articles. I then restrict my search using Boolean search operators. These, although tricky at times to use, will restrict my search to very streamlined return results. This does help me in determining what is factual and opinionated, and also relevant to my question or query.

What about creating? I tried to keep this blog informative and factual. And try to use my own research for my doctorate and my position as an academic. But it’s still a collection of ideas, and should not be taken literally. All information that you read on the Internet should be weighed up whether it is bias, opinionated, or based on facts. This can be difficult with such a plethora of information but is an important skill to learn. If we move away from the digital context, this is an area that can be taken into true life setting. In the podcast that I have created previously I discussed the consideration when reading newspapers, and how to determine the bias or non-factual content. These are likely skills that you have already is just putting into context.

Although a Wikipedia entry may be useful as a starting point, I wouldn’t use Wikipedia, or other material created by the public, for the basis of a research article. I would take a look at peer-review journals or textbooks, and consider these to be factual and non-bias with a balanced opinion.

The difficulties with information literacy have been identified many times in the academic literature. This is a skill that as a student (or new academic) you may find confusing, but is a skill that will help you with building your evidence-based practices you move into register professional (if that’s programme that you’re taking).  Continued professional development is based upon you keeping up to date with the latest knowledge. Being aware that not everything published on the Internet is factual. Although the Internet isn’t the only source of information, due to its ease of access it is becoming the most popular source used by many. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a paper copy of a Journal delivered through the post, even my personal subscriptions are online-only content.

Storing and sharing your own data is just as important and being able to read everyone else’s. Do you want your private life in the public eye? I will touch on professional profiles and social media in a later section, but sometimes it’s useful to share data with others. The use of websites such as DropBox, or even OneDrive or the VLE, can be useful to reliably and effectively share information with peers. Social media is also useful, but use caution when sharing in the public domain. Be aware of legislation and guidelines for sharing information, and of course, no personal information about others should be shared.

As we all sections within this blog, you can find out more information on digital literacies from this link. There are some skills in that consider when using search engines, Boolean search operators, and to build on your own information literacy.

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