Managing information (knowledge?) and fostering information literacy in higher education students: Baby steps to make
There are many educational approaches related to how educators should teach in order to promote a meaningful learning in their students. It is still common to see that many educators stick to the idea that their knowledge means power in classroom settings, where no doubt is allowed since the one who can ask the question is the professor.
Technologies have brought new ways of writing and communication. All Internet users, despite their background or profile, are able to add more information in the cloud (Internet). Every single day, the amount of information uploaded to Internet is massive and, as users, it is impossible to embrace it. This information is being created by different type of users, for multiple purposes (connect with other people, communicate an idea, marketing, fun, debate about a topic, share new academic content/research findings, news, trending content, among others) and in a diversity of formats (images, texts, videos, audio, etc.).
If we put these concerns together—teaching mindset and the massive information available online— we will find that there is a need to foster a skill that many students are not developing in most classrooms: be critical consumers of information. It is necessary, as educators, to use digital resources as a way to promote a critical consumption of information in our students. Learning how to search, retrieve, evaluate and use the information online.
Educators should provide some spaces where students are needed to retrieve information from the Internet in order to complete tasks or projects instead of giving them the papers/articles that they need to read. This will require the use of a critical lens to look for the information they are using to accomplish their tasks. Based on their works, professors can debate with the class what was the “algorithm” followed to search (which search engine/Website was used and why), retrieve (what kind of search inputs—keywords, filters, etc.—were used?), evaluate (why did they chose that paper/document/material? why do they consider the content is accurate or valid?), and use (how are they using the ideas/contribution of the data retrieved?). This set of steps help create new dynamics in classrooms’ discussions; promote the development of critical thinking; and open a space where inquiring is allowed and meaningful to professor and students.