By: Trudi E. Jacobson, Editor-in-Chief You may already be familiar with the term “Information Literacy.” Or it may be new to you. If you are acquainted with the term, you may think of it mostly in connection with what you need in order to do research. And if you don’t, you can pull the two words apart to figure out what it might mean to be literate regarding information.
But this module will open your eyes to the exciting, exasperating, painstaking, and, above all, rich world of information and how you navigate information encounters. Information isn’t something dry and dusty that you find in books and scholarly articles. It is vibrant and necessary and just plain interesting. It can also be duplicitous and slippery and suspect.
How can it be all these things at once? How can you know which information fits which of the adjectives in the previous paragraph? Throughout this module, you will be introduced to many scenarios that capture the wide-ranging, powerful aspects of information. This power, by the way, might be used for good or to harm. You will be introduced to the concepts and tools you need to examine and evaluate information. Since in many cases you are the one who is making important decisions about the value of specific pieces of information, these tools will be vital, both while you are in college and throughout your life.
You will be asked throughout this module to think about your learning in ways that will be extremely beneficial to you when engaging with information, but also in much broader situations. Metaliteracy is a core component of this module, along with information literacy. What does metaliteracy mean?
You can think of metaliteracy as a way of reflecting on your literacy, learning, and thinking. It involves continual self-reflection and self-awareness so that you can take ownership in your role as an active participant in the information environment. (Skill 1, Topic 3.1)
In Skill 1 and recurring further into the module, you will be introduced to learning domains (how you learn) and the roles that you take on in connection with information: roles such as collaborator, producer, and teacher. Engaging with the ideas behind these roles as you investigate the information world will help you to realize the rewarding options you have available.
You will also learn how to engage with information in the context of research that you do in your courses. This may be for papers (they aren’t called research papers for nothing!) or presentations, whether oral, poster sessions, or some other format. Finding good information, figuring out if it actually is valuable information, determining what you might be missing to enrich your work, and putting it together in a responsible and ethical manner—these are all abilities stemming from a particular mindset that your instructors will expect from you. This module is filled with information derived from the expertise of its authors that will help you to be ready to meet these expectations.
Consider the following ways to get the most from the time you spend in this module:
- Engage with the content and the ideas that are presented. Don’t just skim. Remember the importance of what you are learning. This content will help you to develop thought processes as well as skills, but only if you spend time working through the ideas.
- Work through the Pause for Thought and Explore This! sections and other activities that have been developed for you. Watch the linked videos. Think through the content and make connections both within the module as well as with what you are encountering in your everyday life.
- Understand that your instructors want to see you increasingly develop your critical thinking abilities. There is a strong overlap between information literacy and critical thinking. Take the opportunities presented in this module to become a strong critical thinker.
- Have fun! While there are many new ideas to grapple with, the authors have developed or identified intriguing content to interest you. And you can extend that interest by thinking about these new ideas in connection with topics that you are particularly interested in.
- We learn something best when we have to teach it to others. Look for opportunities to share what you are learning with your friends and your family. Bring it up in class discussions when it is applicable.
Once you start thinking about information in the new ways highlighted in this module, it will become more and more obvious to you how important a piece of role information plays in our lives. And because it is so important, you have a lot riding on how carefully you vet information—it might impact your success in college, on the job, and in your daily life. It will also impact those with whom you share information, either information you have come across or that you have created yourself.
Enjoy your journey through the world of information!