Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Part 3: Developing Responsible Technology Users

"Information Literacy" is a common buzzword/phrase that is becoming increasingly more common in the world of education and something I believe is especially important for parents to consider in their effort to develop responsible users of technology. Before moving forward, it is necessary to recognize what this term actually means. I like the definition communicated through Wesleyan University which states: "Information literacy involves recognizing when information is needed and being able to efficiently locate, accurately evaluate, effectively use, and clearly communicate information in various formats." With this basic understanding of information literacy, parents can better evaluate whether these skills are being encouraged and developed in both school and at home. More importantly, parents must ask themselves: "Are we doing anything to help our children develop solid information literacy skills?"

In today's world where digital literacy is an essential skill, it is imperative that parents take an active role in helping their children develop the skills they need to be successful. To simplify things even further, I believe it is especially important that children develop the following skills:

  1. The ability to locate information
  2. The ability to analyze and evaluate the quality/credibility of information
  3. The ability to organize information
  4. The ability to share information
For help in learning how to better find information on the web, check out this 8-part series I created for students at our school:

Google Search Tips and Tricks

Not only is it important that children can find the information they need, they must also be able to analyze and evaluate the quality/credibility of that information. With the amount of information out there, this can be a very daunting task but it is important that parents at least have a basic understanding of how to evaluate information found on the Internet. The following resources are helpful in getting started:

Common Sense Media Tip Sheet on Research and Evaluation

Evaluating Web Information via UNC Asheville

How To Do Research via The Kentucky Virtual Library (great resource for younger kids)

Once a child has located quality information, it is important to have a place to organize and share that information. Social bookmarking tools such as Diigo are a great tool for this exact purpose. Diigo is a free cloud-based service that allows you to bookmark and annotate any resource found on the web and categorize it with specific tags for easy organization and future reference. Anything bookmarked within Diigo can also be shared with others publicly through groups. Group members can also add their own resources to the group making this a powerful collaborative research tool. For more information on Diigo, check out this brief intro video:

Diigo Intro

Collectively, these specific information literacy skills are critically important for success in today's information-rich world. Parents simply cannot afford to take a hands-off approach with these skills and assume they are being learned at school. If you are a parent (or educator), take the time to learn some of these basic skills so you can help guide your children more effectively in locating, evaluating, organizing and sharing the immense amount of information available through the web. 

In the next post, we will discuss the importance of digital citizenship and how we can better develop children who are good digital citizens on the web. If you missed Parts 1 and 2 of this series, you can check them out through the following links:

Part 1
Part 2 

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