Active Learning in Subject Matters of Interest Leads to Critical Thinking

Studies confirm that students learn more when subject matter is more personally relevant.  This information can guide instructors of information literacy in preparing their courses. One-shot courses may at times be what is needed or what is feasible. On the other hand, when possible, why not promote critical thinking through active learning sessions that are geared towards subject matters of interest for students of information literacy.ILWordlesmaller

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A day at the Library

This is a discussion about information literacy. Information literacy problems have been dealt with success, especially in academic libraries. Entire classes visit the library for instruction by librarians; tests are distributed and searches are assigned after the instruction to check the students’ knowledge of and abilities in searching; librarians visit the classroom for instruction; librarians instruct students one-on-one; and instructional modules are created and become available on blackboard, allowing the students to watch them online at their own leisure.

With all these solutions and evident success we still have a lot of students, especially in the undergraduate level, who have no knowledge of proper searches and just “google it”. Guess what! They don’t even know how to “google” properly; how to recognize a legitimate source from a questionable one. This means, there is still a big problem regarding information literacy and a lot of ground to be covered.

The problem is evident when faculty members refuse to acknowledge the need for information literacy and don’t work with librarians to resolve this problem. The solution must come from the institution. An idea would be a mandatory “day at the library” for new students. I am not talking about class visits. That would be insufficient considering the large number of classes and the difficulties in scheduling their visits. The solution is in the orientation. Instead of useless speeches and tours of the athletic facilities, the school can dedicate one day to bring all new undergraduate and graduate students to the library, allowing the librarians to give them a tour of the library, instruct them properly, and test them. Also, the institution should have clear guidelines that would enforce the communication and collaboration between faculty and librarians, thus eliminating the “bad attitude” by some faculty towards the library.

It is important to understand here that the goal is not to make people happy (faculty, students) by applying weak but convenient measures  that result in mediocre education. The goal is to provide the best education possible, thus creating an environment where all involved parties will be doing their best to accomplish this goal. How can we convince the college and university administrators to do that? Well, that is a different and more challenging topic!

IL Through a Digital Lens

I am working on creating a wiki for educators. The goal is to give educators an information literacy update. There are many different standards available for information literacy; I have chosen to refer to those stated by the Society of College, National, and University Libraries (SCONUL), because this organization emphasizes in particular the aspect of IL as it is considered through a digital lens.

So far, I have created one unit towards the 7 Pillars of Information Literacy. You can check out the unit at http://payitforwardfindorganizeandshareonlineresourcesforteaching.wikispaces.com/.

Please feel free to add suggestions and/or comments  to this blog for this or any other of the units in the wiki.  To learn about future topics for units, please download the .pdf file labeled SCONUL digital_literacy_lens_v4(1).docx, which you will find on the site in unit 1.

Mind Mapping Exercise

Mind mapping can be a useful tool for students and educators alike to assess their knowledge, as well as assess their knowledge gaps of various subject matters. This example makes use of the free online tool, freemind. You can download it from http://freemind.en.softonic.com/. There are many others available for you to choose from; try exploring different options!

* Click on image to enlarge

IL Through a Digital Lens: Assess What You Know About Leveraging Technology For Teaching By Using a Mind Mapping Tool