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EDUCATION: Information Literacy

A GENERAL EDUCATION SUBJECT PORTAL

What does it mean to be information literate?

Information Literacy

To be information literate is crucial for success in your studies at a tertiary institution.

What does it mean to be information literate?

a)    You will know that you NEED information to complete an assignment or to write a report.

b)    You will know where to FIND the relevant information.

c)    You will be able to EVALUATE the information for your specific needs.

d)    You will be able to interpret and APPLY the information.

e)     You will be aware of Copyright implications and will be able to USE the information legally and responsibly.

 To become information literate is not a once-off exercise.

It is a process whereby you gain experience to work effectively and fluently. To become information literate you must be willing to become a lifelong learner. You will acquire a set of abilities to search strategically and NOT be overwhelmed by too much information.

 Advantages of being information literate

“The world has changed from a society with an economy based on labour and capital to an economy based on information and knowledge. We live in an increasingly complex world that contains an abundance of information. Information is now available in a variety of  formats  but it may not necessarily be of the same quality. In order for you to to survive in this information and knowledge society, you need the skills to male sense of information and use information technology effectively.

In the information and knowledge –based society that we live in, people who know how to find, evaluate, analyse and communicate information to others efficiently and effectively are held in high esteem, People who are well read in the relevant literature, who keep up to date with the latest developments in their specific field and keep on learning in the process, and whose intellectual and conceptual skills are continously developing, are seen as lifelong learners. Lifelong learners are successful at solving problems, providing solutions and producing new ideas and directions for the future.

The ability to access, evaluate and use information from a variety of sources is central to all successful learning and therefore also a successful life. If you see information literacy as a tool for lifelong learning, you will be prepared for survival in the greater information and knowledge society.” (Bothma, 2008, p 12.)

 

Competencies of an information literate person

Competencies of an information literate person.

There are a number of fundamental competencies that you need to acquire in the process of developing into an information literate person.

·         How do I know that I need information before starting a task?

·         How do I know what information I need for my task?

·         How do I find the information I need?

·         How can I organise the information I find so that I can use it when I need it?

·         What are the ethical and legal issues about the use of information?

·         How do I know that the information I find is the ‘right’ information for my task?

·         What other competencies do information literate people have?

·         What are the latest trends in communication and information technology?

       1.      How do I know that I need information before starting a task?            

 

 

If you are unable to answer a question or solve a problem within your current frame of reference, you know that you need more information. As an information literate person, you will know that you need accurate and appropriate information to help you make intelligent decisions.   

2.      How do I know what information I need for my task?

      

As a student and in the workplace you will be required to complete a number of tasks. These tasks will include assignments, research projects and reports.

                         Analyse the topic – Make sure that you understand the topic clearly.          

                         Decide what sources to use – Appropriate sources only, some may not  suit   your task. 

                         Use a variety of sources- Are they obtainable/ accessible?                                

3.      How do I find the information I need?

This involves more than just being able to look for the information. You should be able to phrase questions in such a way that the information you find is relevant and of sufficient scope.

      Decide on the methods and systems to use for this specific task.

      Formulate questions and queries based on your information needs.

      Develop search strategies to facilitate results.

      Refine your search.

 

4.      How can I organise the information I find so that I can use it when I need it?

Personal Information Management (PIM)

You need to organise the information on your computer so that you can find it again with as little effort as possible. Use a folder system or send files to your desktop.

 

5.      What are the ethical and legal issues about the use of information?

Ethical and legal issues are an extremely important part of being information literate. Ethical and legal issues have an impact no only on whether you may or may not use the information you need, but also on how to use information correctly and according to the law.

      Know the rules and laws about access and use of information.

      Know how and when to acknowledge your information sources according to

      standardised methods.

 

6.      How do I know that the information I find is the “right” information for my task?

As an information literate person, you need to evaluate the information resources that you have found as well as the information contained in the sources.

      Use accepted criteria to evaluate the reliability, validity, accuracy, authority,

      timeliness and bias of the sources.

      Decide whether the information is useful and relevant for the specific purpose.

      Reflect on your search strategies.

 

7.      What other competencies do information literate people have?

As an information literate person, you need to be able to interact with and use the information that you have found.

      Extract and organise the information.

      Integrate new information into your existing body of knowledge.

      Use the information for a specific purpose. Critical thinking and problem

      solving. Write a report that incorporates all the information according to

      cademic standards and conventions.

 

8.      What are the latest trends in communication and information technology?

Information technology products and services are continously being updated and upgraded. You have to keep up with these changes. You need to know the latest trends and how it may affect the ways in which you can access and manage information.

 

 

REFERENCE

 

Bothma, T., Cosijn, E., Fourie, I., Penzhorn,C. ( 2009).  Navigating Information Literacy: your information society survival toolkit.  Cape Town: Pearson Education South Africa. (EDUC ZA 3075 NAV)

 

Written by Cornelia Bothma, 2015