The dying art of information literacy
Shawn Callahan is bummed that his masters-level students are using sources (Google and Wikipedia) without evaluating their reliability. Our information diets are killing us:
I have just finished marking a bunch of assignments. Not surprising the topic was narrative techniques in knowledge management. The students are masters level and I have to say I was depressed by what I received. The majority of the students were relying on Google and wikipedia to support their claims and arguments. The only journal articles referred to where the ones I made available in the shared online space.
This is an issue that comes up both in academics and in general business circles. I suspect information overload has a reverse problem along these lines: the lack of desire to seek out high-quality information gets washed out in the too-much-information river.
Why is this important? Individually, I want to be sure I have the best sources and information to answer a given question or problem. The reason I might use the first answer I find on Google is that it seems to be "good enough" to the fit of my problem. I evaluate any answers I find online (or in books and journals) with what I already know of a given topic, and whether the given information seems to fit with my mental model of the problem at hand. I even look for insights that counter my intuition, just in case I have it wrong to begin with. I note that this happens for me very quickly and naturally as I troll through found materials. I tend to do more research on a given topic when I know something big is on the line.
Collectively, information literacy is important because we have to rely on one another to search and collect and evaluate sources to develop high-quality solutions in business.
So, is the art of information literacy dying? It is certainly changing as the sources and quantity of information changes.
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