Friday, September 26, 2008

Information Evaluation as Patriotic Duty?

I've been arguing with (they might say pestering!) my friends and family for a while now that information literacy and the ability to evaluate and think critically about sources of information is an essential skill not only for college students, but for our democracy as a whole. A lack of such skills are what I point to as a big reason for the sorry state of our politics and the mass media. In other words: if people by default were skeptical and did a little research on what our leaders and those in power and in the media are saying, perhaps we might have leaders and mass media organizations who were a little more honest (because they had to be).

So now I'm starting to explore ways to make the sale (to students) that embracing information evaluation is not only essential to academic success, but that in many ways it's an essential duty of any citizen. Mastering the art of critical evaluation as patriotic duty?

What I don't know yet is how to make this argument, especially in my own environment, where I only do one-shot virtual workshops. I really want to have a workshop just around this issue, and perhaps integrate resources like iCue and or Ameritocracy. Anyone have any ideas? Would students even sign up for this kind of thing? Or perhaps I need to find some faculty willing to work with me to integrate as an assignment or project in their curriculum?


Olivia Nellums said...

I was just reading a section in the ALA Information Literacy Instruction Handbook by Thomas Eland, entitled "A Curriculum-Integrated Approach to Information Literacy," and I think it's a good example of how far information literacy can go in the classroom. The experience is at the Minneapolis Community & Technical College, which actually has a Library Information Technology (LIT) Program. Their information literacy page is here. MCTC does have this LIT program, though -- I wonder if integration as complete as this would be difficult to replicate elsewhere.

Dana said...

Thanks Olivia - I'll check them out! The real problem I have is that most of the literature on this topic deal with full semester or at least credit, courses. We don't have that luxury - participation in our workshops is voluntary, although I'm trying to push for funds and policies to get incentives built into it in the longer term.