Yesterday I was fortunate enough to have a prep when Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach of the Powerful Learning Practice was hosting a session on “Evaluating Digital Resources.” Once again I fired up Elluminate and logged in for a session. There were a few people I recognized attending the online session including Alec Couros. Alec is one of my former professors at the University of Regina and introduced me to many of the online tools, groups and collaborators that I work with now.

The session was hosted by Nussbaum-Beach but the presenter was Ira Socol. Socol posed the question “How do we know something is true?” He then discussed news stories that have been published before the information has been checked and questioned. His example was the New York Times Airbus A380 story that was published but contradicted information from a story the Times had published two weeks earlier. Socol  discussed the old way of establish information: look at the author’s credentials, the publisher’s authority and whether the library or school distributed the text. The reason the old way is no longer as relevant is that by the time text is published there has already been changes in the information presented.

squidoo.com

Society now looks at information in a much different way. They don’t look for information authority but at perceived authority. Our students may look at an author’s reputation, what someone else recommends, if there is previous experience with the source, who the author and site are associated with and the findability of the information. Most of our students are most impressed by the findability of information or which information had the most hits on Google. The students are equating most hits with the best quality as a way to rate information.

Socol posed discussion questions;

How do your students “know” something is true?

Is it the same way the you (teachers) “know”?

Is it the same way your Board of Education “knows”?

What is true is that students don’t “know” what is true. My example is that earlier this week as my students were researching wonders of the world, one of my students showed me a picture of The Great Wall of China as a water slide. I questioned whether the picture was real or fake. The student hadn’t thought anything about it other than how cool that would be. I sent them back to check. As Socol states we need to teach our students to ask questions and train them in “information intelligence.” We want to ask our students to find the information in other places to verify it is reliable information. We want students to look through the site’s information and question whether the other things the source says are believable. Students also need to know what the author’s perspective is to understand if there is a bias behind the information. According to Socol the  most important technique we can use when we’re teaching our students to evaluate digital resources is to demand of our students “Show me why you think this is true.”

I’m just beginning Block 6, Adventure # 2 ~ The Quicksand of Multiple Literacies ~ for my EC&I 832 master’s class. I read the Wikipedia definition of Multiple LiteraciesMultiliteracies is a term coined by the New London Group.[1] Because the way people communicate is changing due to new technologies, and shifts in the usage of the English language within different cultures, a new “literacy” must also be used and developed.” I then moved on to the Educase Article Connecting the Digital Dots: Literacy of the 21st Century which stated that “Perhaps literacy, and numeracy for that matter, have never really been optional for fully functioning members of society. In our 21st century society—accelerated, media-saturated, and automated—a new literacy is required, one more broadly defined than the ability to read and write.” Next on the list was Dr. Michael Wesch’s video Information R/evolution which “explores the changes in the way we find, store, create, critique, and share information. This video was created as a conversation starter, and works especially well when brainstorming with people about the near future and the skills needed in order to harness, evaluate, and create information effectively.” The readings and video made had me thinking about last year’s  Saskatchewan iT Summit where David Warlick was the key note speaker. Warlick challenges the way we are teaching and learning. During his presentations to teachers he wants to challenge them to expand their perceptions of teaching and learning and dare to consider our professional future with optimism and excitement.”

Mike Sansone CC

“Today, we are not just about Literacy,
But, “Learning Literacy,”

Not just about Literacy Skills,
But, “Literacy Habits,”

Not just about Lifelong Learning,
But, it is a “Learning Lifestyle.”


I went back and reread my blog post after listening to Warlick speak and found that what he said a year ago still resonates and challenges me.

Redefining Literacy with David Warlick March 24th, 2009

http://davidwarlick.com/wordpress/

How do we prepare students for a world and future we don’t know about. We need to stop integrating technology but integrate literacy. If students are literate “in terms of their information landscape” they will ask questions and challenge information. Students must be willing and encouraged to ask questions. In fact, we want students to become digital detectives; look for clues and evidence about where their information is coming from. We want literacy to go beyond reading text on paper and answering questions about the text. Students are reading in a global electronic highway where anyone can publish which means that the demands for literacy are changing. Today literacy means that students need to “expose what’s true: find, critically evaluate, organize and apply.”

We also need to teach students to communicate their ideas in a compelling way that moves beoynd text to videos, photos, digital storytelling, music and art.

Contemporary Literacy:

karindalziel CC

Exposing What’s True

Employing the Information

Expressing Ideas Compellingly

Do it all within an Ethical Context

Redefine Literacy, so that it reflects today’s information.

In more recent blog posts and presentations Warlick continues to challenge educators and  the literacies they are teaching for.

“I frequently talk about expanding our notions of literacy from the 3Rs to 4Es, expanding:

  • Reading to Exposing what’s true A range of skills going beyond simply reading to finding the information within a global network, evaluating the information to determine its value, organizing the information, and decoding the information.
  • Arithmetic to Employing the information An appreciation that all information is structured from numbers today, and the skills to work those numbers to add value to the information.
  • Writing to Expressing ideas compellingly When technical information doubles every 72 hours, information must compete for our attention.  To produce a message that will attract an audience, literacy includes the ability to communicate effectively with text, sound, images, video, and animation.
  • and adding in Ethics as a critical part of any definition of or conversation about literacy.”

With so much to think about I question whether I’m doing a good job acknowledging the different forms of literacy in the classroom. Am I doing what I can to help my students explore the various forms of literacy by giving them opportunities in the classroom? Every time I read articles, blogs or view videos I find myself reflecting and questioning my teaching practice which I guess is the whole point.

Cristóbal Cobo Romaní CC