Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Teaching students how to find information

Part of my job will be teaching students how to find information. Most folks these days would say "How easy is that -- they already know how "to Google" so there's not much left to do." Uh. Yeah. Right.

While I agree that Google has turned the world into information searchers, there is a lot we can teach students. Our Library Instruction librarian, and the other librarians, are modeling for me what this can look like. A quick example: explaining the difference bewteen popular and academic sources of information (evaluating the quality of the information, as well as how well it meets the research need). Another example cropped up in an article from Library Instruction Round Table News (June 2009, p.9). The author had been teaching users for years but had never been successful in helping more than a quarter of his students understand the concept of Boolean logic. He finally found he reached more of them when he used the example of ordering fast food (burger AND fries; regular OR curly fries; Coke NOT Pepsi). By tying the concept to a real-world scenario most students were familiar with, many more of them "got it".

Maybe not the most earth-shattering revelation, but I love the idea that part of the mission of most libraries is to teach information literacy.

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