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Information Literacy Tips


Reflecting on U.S. Independence Day, there are many interpretations of Independence. One is the ability to make one's own decisions, independently, with the skills to sort out fact from opinion, bias, fiction, lies, and distortion. Some adult basic skills teachers (including ESOL/ESL) may already routinely or occasionally incorporate information literacy in their lessons. According to a Wikipedia page on information literacy, The American Library Association defines information literacy as a set of abilities requiring individuals to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.[3] Other definitions incorporate aspects of "skepticism, judgement, free thinking, questioning, and understanding..."[4] or incorporate competencies that an informed citizen of an information society ought to possess to participate intelligently and actively in that society." [5]

How do you sort out fact from opinion, bias, fiction, lies, and distortion? How do you help your students do this? How do  you and they quickly and reliably check information about the source of an article?

This is a new discussion thread focusing on learning and teaching tips for finding, evaluating and using information effectively in all aspects of our -- and our students -- lives, but especially for personal decision making as a citizen or resident in a democratic society.

Here's the first tip. I hope you will also share your tips!

1. You have just read an engaging article in a newspaper, magazine, journal, or blog. The print or online publication is not one you are familiar with. If you (or your students) Google it, increasingly over time when you select the major link to the publication you will see a box to the right, from the Wikipedia, with information about the publication. Try it. For example, Google "Wall Street Journal." When I did, I learned that it is "the most-circulated newspaper in the US (2,378,827 average circulation)." The second most widely circulated newspaper in the U.S., I learned when I Googled it, is the New York Times.

A new project will add another 1,000 local newspapers according to Poynter, an online publication about journalism from The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, a non-profit school for journalism located in St. Petersburg, Florida. In the Poynter article, "Digital literacy project sets an ambitious goal: Wikipedia pages for 1,000 local newspapers" we learn that "Mike Caulfield, director of blended and networked learning at Washington State University Vancouver, plans to work with students around the U.S. to create pages and info boxes for the local newspapers lacking them. "As part of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ Digital Polarization Initiative, a project to combat misinformation and polarization with digital literacy, [Caulfield] also hopes it will teach students digital literacy and the cultural significance of local newspapers." Would your students, perhaps as a group learning project, be interested in participating in this project, learning about the local newspapers in your community that might be added as information boxes?

2. Now it's your turn to add an information literacy tip.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups



Kirti Venkatasawmy's picture

To teach students how to evaluate websites, I give them two websites to explore and a chart with focused questions (5 Ws) to complete for each site. Sample questions for "Who?" are: Who is the author of the website? What contact information is given for the author? If there is no information about the author, how can you find information? After completing the charts, students decide if the sites are fake or real and explain why. The websites are: and  Note: this is a homework assignment. In class, students explore the Tree Octopus website:




David J. Rosen's picture
One hundred

Hello Kirti,

Great Tip! What fun this lesson is, and the homework is fun too !  How do your students do with these?  Have you considered sharing this as a lesson, perhaps as an Open Education Resource on OER Commons, or as a HyperDoc lesson?  I bet it would be popular among many teachers.

David J. Rosen



Kathy_Tracey's picture
One hundred

David and all, 

It's interesting that you point out the 'boxes' on the side of a screen when you are looking at a new product or article. Those boxes are developed as a part of a successful marketing strategy. Businesses create business listings and then design search engine optimization so that their business listing comes 'above the fold'. In internet speak, that is at the top of the page. 

Now, my strategy is to teach students how sophisticated marketing is through online methods. When students explore a page like this on marketing strategies, and they learn about content marketing, search engine optimisation, and display advertising, they have a better idea of whose putting content out, and why they are seeing specific content. 

Great discussion!

Kathy Tracey