Instructional Technology/Technology Information Literacy
The information provided in this section of the Instructional Technology Book was provided by students in the Master's of Education program at the University of Mary Washington. Students are in the ITEC521 Information Literacy in the Digital Age course and are working in conjunction with Dr. Teresa Coffman.
Information Literacy Defined
Information literacy is the ability to articulate a problem to be investigated, locate and assemble information, scrutinize gathered resources, process and apply information towards a solution, and contemplate the effectiveness of the entire process.
According to the American Library Association (2007), "Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information."
Digitally literate students will be the students who will succeed in the positions of the 21st century. It is critical for students to learn to gather, assess, evaluate, and expand on resources while in school. Teachers should have a vision of digital literacy in the classroom.
Information literacy instruction teaches our students to be digitally literate so they may be prepared for living in the 21st century. Our students need to be equipped with the technological skills to succeed.
Many educators feel the need to understand and utilize technology but do not have the necessary tools and resources. It is our responsibility as educators to learn how to teach technology literacy in a way that everyone can understand (Wepner & Liqing, 2002). We also have a responsibility to search for websites that accommodate our student’s literacy skills (Wepner & Liqing, 2002).
National organizations have created standards to indicate what students should know about and be able to do with technology (Bennett, 2005). Look at the International Society of Technology in Education's standards for students (ISTE-NETS) and for teachers (ISTE-NETS-T) for help in formulating lesson plans. It is our responsibility to consider these standards as we plan for our classrooms.
Determining a Need for Literacy
The ability to "effectively locate, evaluate, organize, use, package and present information effectively will become a normal part of life at work"(Cheuk, 2002). Students need to become proficient in using technology to handle these demands and teachers must accommodate this need by integrating technology skills in every facet of instruction. There are several key factors to consider when implementing a technology education program: the students’ abilities, assessment of deficiencies in skill attainment, selection of material and methods for teaching, and application of learning in real world situations.
Schools and program designers must understand the strengths and weaknesses of their students before planning their instruction. A literacy skills survey of college students found that more than half the graduates could not be categorized as possessing proficiency in analyzing news articles, comprehending documents and balancing a checkbook (Lilienthal, 2006. Being aware of strengths, weaknesses and curriculum needs will do much to guide instruction and develop information literacy skills.
Strategies and Tools for Developing Information Literacy
Curriculum content and pedagogy
What exactly do educators need to teach to students and how will the content be taught? The current focus in education is to access higher level or critical thinking skills in students. “Helping our students achieve information literacy and critical thinking skills is an important goal” (Murray, 2005). Students are expected to utilize their critical thinking skills to solve problems in a technologically-based environment. Students must utilize skills that they have learned that clearly demonstrate technological competency. By performing these tasks students are taught how to use technology to accomplish a curricular goal.
Exactly what students need to learn should be written into educational standards. For instance, the American Association of School Librarians developed standards for student learning. “The student who is information literate accesses information efficiently and effectively, evaluates information critically and competently, and uses information accurately and creatively” (Murray, 2005). The goals of technology information literacy are to promote lifelong learning among students, utilize critical thinking skills, and promote problem-solving skills (Plotnick, 1999).
The NetSavvy approach developed by Jukes, Dosaj, and Macdonald (2000), suggests that once educators and learners have determined what the essential questions are for the task, it is imperative to consider one’s choice of tools. This consideration means not only what is available, but whether all participants in the project are comfortable with using the selected tools. The NetSavvy approach supplies educators and students with guideposts to tackle any project. Specifically, teachers can evaluate whether the tools are right for one’s pupils for where they are at a particular moment in time and be used to track whether the lesson has helped in reaching the lesson’s objectives.
The NetSavvy approach ensures that teachers cover what the authors refer to as the 5A’s. These are Asking, Acccessing, Analyzing, Applying, and Assessing. For each of the 5A’s there are the same five elements to consider, each tweaked to fit one’s particular lesson plan. The first examines the prerequisite skills teachers assume of students. The second element uses the Student Basic Asking Tool which, like a KWL chart, seeks what pre-information students have on the topic and what they wish to learn. (An additional component not seen in the KWL chart or in many lesson plans in general is added, namely, imagination.) The third element of the 5A’s deals with the essential skills the teacher hopes to engender in the students. The remaining two elements deal with equipment needs coverage and a review element appraising the entire teacher, student, and collaborative processes involved in the lesson. Once teachers and students are empowered with this method, they are equipped with innate tools to make good choices.
INTERACTIVE WEBSITES breathe life into the Internet! Interactivity makes the Internet dynamic and highly engaging. Just imagine how long you can stare at an image of an airplane on a web page...you try to imagine how it moves in the air, how it feels when it touches down on a landing strip. You can concentrate for ten, maybe fifteen seconds, right? Now imagine flying that plane - you are in control of a smooth bank to the right, with a sparkling blue expanse below. You might even try a gutsy aileron roll as your engine roars through the sky! That's the potential of interactivity - it puts users in control! And control equates to engagement! Studies show that websites that are "providing opportunities for interaction can increase learning effectiveness".(Brady, 2004).
Interactive websites engage students by providing information and resources coupled with practice, simulations, tutorials, virtual fieldtrips, problem-solving and other learning activities. They can be highly interactive, content-rich simulations such as the Frog Guts (subscription-based) simulation and the Leonardo's Workshop. Or, traditional drill and practice like Funbrain or book quizzes like Book Adventure.
Using music, video, simulations, practice sessions, feedback mechanisms, and a host of other attention-getting and attention-keeping devices, well-designed interactive websites keep minds clicking and seeking more information. A well-designed interactive website is more than "drill-and-kill" types of games, though such skills-based sites are still useful for some students or for certain circumstances.
Teachers should preview sites before sending their students to them. Teachers can also turn to portal or other trusted sites that have prescreened the web pages which they are promoting.One well-known example of such a trusted site is Discovery School, maintained by Kathy Schrock, a former school librarian. Kathy and the Discovery School staff have done much of the wading through websites for teachers. Another alternative would be to utilize specialty websites, such as:
- Edu Fly, where education takes flight
- Educating.Net, Portal to the World of Knowledge
- Thematic Pathfinders for All Ages
Instructors should also be teaching students about protecting themselves on the Internet in conjunction with instruction on how to locate, evaluate and choose appropriate sites for their purposes. With "more than 100 million web sites on the Internet" (Netcraft, 2006) and thousands more being added daily, the Internet has much to offer and much to wade through. Students and teachers alike must be equipped to do their searching efficiently. In order to find and assess quality, checklists can be kept on each website visited.
Examples of checklists can be found at:
- The Quality Information Checklist
- Discovery School Critical Evaluation Surveys
- Johns Hopkins University
Interactivity is more than visiting websites - there is a multitude of interactive resources for teachers and students to use. On-line games will immediately come to mind. Thought many schools block on-line games, most schools also allow sites to be unblocked if teachers can demonstrate the educational efficacy of a site. Computer games “can provide many self-directed learning strategies, thus stimulating student’s learning interests and promoting student-centered learning” (Yu, Wang, and Che, 2005, p. 94). Keeping students motivated and interested are two of the main goals of interactive gaming. They “incorporate knowledge, fun competition, cooperation, and virtual reality into learning” (Yu, et. al, 2005, p. 95). Like any website, an evaluation should be done on the online game that is in question to use. Here is a sample rubric for evaluating an online games:
Other types of interactive resources include instant messaging, podcasts, blogs, and using the Internet for phone calls using services like Skype. Instant messaging has been found to be “more personal, confidential, and targeted than the public space of a discussion list or chat room” (Abram, 2005). Podcasting allows students to record their own thoughts and ideas. Teachers only need to supply a microphone for students to record. Blogging has grown tremendously in the last few years and some sites are designed specifically for school-age children.“Skype is for calling other people all over the world—for free—on their computers” (Abram, 2005, ¶ 12). This could be either an add-on or replacement for a pen pal in other countries. JYBE is a “plug-in to Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox that brings real-time collaboration to Web-based systems and content” (Abram, 2005, ¶ 13). This allows partners to see exactly what the other is doing. JYBE can be downloaded for free.
Links to lists of interative websites:
Jefferson County Schools- Jefferson County Schools in Tennessee maintains this long list of interactive sites organized by content area
The Teacher's Guide- pop-up free list of interactive websites. Sites are ranked according to a simple system.
Mr. Nussbam- a teacher-created, interactive website designed specifically for students in grades K - 8
Multimedia instruction is an interactive method of teaching and uses text, graphics, video, animation and sound to instill meaningful learning for students (Juhas, 2004, p.1). Multimedia instruction utilizes technology in the classroom, offering students unlimited means of learning. I found a website, eZedia, that lists the 12 reasons for using multimedia in the classroom and I have included the list. Projects and activities that include multimedia have the potential to:
- motivate students to participate.
- integrate all the language arts -- reading, writing, listening, and speaking across curricular areas.
- build multimedia projects build collaboration skills for students
- create real reasons for reading, writing, and revising communication.
- give students a larger audience than the teacher and the classroom.
- require students to analyze sources and think about evidence in new ways.
- lead teachers to think about their students, classes, and lessons in new ways. Reflection and revision of teaching strategies naturally evolve with the projects.
- require higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills. These projects promote non-linear thinking and give divergent learners a chance to shine in the classroom.
- move teachers from the role of lecturer and classroom authority and into the role of learning coach or facilitator. They create student-centered classrooms.
- increase students' literacy and prepares them for the technology-based communication skills required in the workplace today and tomorrow.
- let teachers address multiple intelligences and learning styles in the classroom.
- naturally employ the range of resources and approaches by which most students learn best (Cherry, 2002)
United Streaming Video
One of the most popular multimedia tools is video streaming, “the process of viewing video over the Internet” (Ross, 2005, ¶ 3). Teachers can download the video and watch it at the same time. Teachers need “a computer with an Internet connection and Windows Media Player” to access video streaming (McNeal, and Kearns, 2005, p. 17). They can be used in a variety of ways. They can be used in presentations or Web sites. Students can also view these on an individual basis. One example of video streaming is UnitedStreaming. There are a great number of videos available through Unitedstreaming on every subject and every level.
One of the newest Internet multimedia resources is Podcasting. This “is an automated technology that allows listeners to subscribe and listen to digitally recorded audio shows" (Flanagan, 2005). The files are downloaded onto an MP3 player or a computer. Students can download everything from a teacher’s lecture to previously recorded audio files on a wide multitude of subjects. David Warlick (2005) explains that educators “can share their knowledge, insights, and passions for teaching and learning and for the stories that they relish and teach.” He began the Education Pod Network where teachers and students can download educational Podcasts.
Along with Podcasting, Vodcasting will soon be used extensively. “’Vodcasts’ are identical to podcasts with the exception being that vodcasts are video-based podcasts” (Switzer, 2006). Students will be able to download video files of interest such as science experiments, group presentations or foreign language lessons.
Definition: databases are collections of information organized so that a computer program can quickly select desired bits of data. Think of a database an an electronic filing system. Databases are often organized by fields, records, and files. A field is a single bit of information; a record is one set of fields; and a file is merely a collection of records.
What is a Library Database?
Library databases are used to locate journal or newspaper articles and they are updated daily-to-monthly. (Alverno Library, 2005). Libraries try and update their information whereas the World Wide Web allows anyone to post information without providing continuous updates. Libraries are also able to focus their content, providing researchers to spend more time on qualitative analysis of the articles, rather than the initial search of material. Search results on the World Wide Web may not always have helpful or accurate links to the information that is sought. Based on the accuracy and up-to-date information provided by library databases, it may be more productive and less time consuming to use a library database, rather than to merely search the World Wide Web for information.
What is an electronic Database?
Electronic databases are prevalent in today's technologically-immersed world, and continue to grow and become useful for many professions and topics. Electronic databases are used to help researchers locate periodical articles that relate to their topic. Electronic databases may also provide access to full-text databases.
According to the Expanded Academic ASAP User Tutorial, an electronic database can be defined as "an organised list of published information sources (usually journal articles), either giving directions (a citation) to where you can find the full information or containing the information itself (full-text databases) (Gale, 2005). One thing that is absolutely significant to databases is that they function differently based upon the content that they cover. Not all databases are created equally, thus it helps to understand the particulars of the database before utilizing its multiple functions.
Electronic Databases-How are They Different From Library Databases?
The greatest benefit to using a library database is the security of the information that you will find, "if students click on the school library's databases and catalogs, they have albeit virtually stepped through the doors of the building itself. If they click on an Internet search engine, however, they have hurled themselves into the entire world, the world of cyberspace" (Jenson, 2004). This is not to say that library databases are better, but when doing research for educational purposes, it may be wise to consult the library database, and most especially the libararian.
An electronic database is different from a library database only in structure. The general basis of results is primarily the same. Performing a search with either database is going to generate several works in which the researcher can choose from. However, an electronic database differs from a library database in that the timeframe is significantly shortened in a library database, and the location of generated results typically is inconsequential if they are listed in full-text formats. We can endlessly defend the value of books, but we can no longer deny the many advantages of electronic resources: their ease of use, cross-searching capabilities, and simultaneous and remote access options (Roncevic, 2002).
Electronic versus Print databases
Librarians are witnessing a shift in resources that they offer. In an ideal world, many librarians would like to see their libraries with both print and electronic resources. However, economically, this is a tough feat to accomplish (Roncevic, 2002). An electronic database is difficult in nature to build in terms of cost. An electronic subscription to a journal may cost twice as much as the print version (Roncevic, 2002).
As our classrooms become more enriched with technology and our society becomes more netsavvy, print databases will become less popular. In many libraries, using a print database can be difficult since the options are becoming limited. Electronic databases are becoming more prominent in schools and regional libraries throughout our county. The shift from print to electronic is inevitable. All research can not be conducted from home through use of databases. There are some very valuable resources, such as reference books and other non-circulating materials, that students miss out on unless they physically visit the library. So, for certain research projects, it is important to couple the use of electronic resources with access to print resources.
How can databases be used?
In order for students to use databases effectively for classroom projects and research, teachers cannot assume that students will automatically know how to search databases because they know how to search the Web. Teachers must always provide as much information for their students as possible, including modeling correct search strategies.
With younger students, certain databases can be great tools because, unlike the vast World Wide Web, they are tailored to the students’ comprehension level. Databases also provide solutions to some of the obstacles that face younger students in their searches for information.
Kids InfoBits, a child-friendly spin-off of InfoTrac, is aimed at students in grades kindergarten through five. It culls only those resources appropriate for children and does not contain advertising (Dempsey, 2003). For younger children, databases like Kids InfoBits do what an Internet search engine cannot: “Organize vast resources into a narrower range that's child-friendly, highly structured so kids can find things easily, and vetted for appropriate content” (Dempsey, 2003). Because databases can sometimes provide more meaningful content for young students than the Internet, teachers should check with their school’s media specialist about the school’s access to children’s databases before starting a research project.
Choosing Appropriate Technology Tools for Teaching and Learning
What is appropriate?
When choosing to incorporate technology into a lesson, teachers should choose technology that allows “students to be productive, innovative and enterprising” (TEFA Online, 1999). Teachers need to be certain that incorporating the technology does not hinder the learning process for the students, but instead leads to a deeper understanding of the topic. Technology should “bolster instruction and help students develop higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills” (Brown, 2002, p. 4). To help teachers decide what technology is the best to use, Professor Bell(2004) at Michigan State University designed this Technology Rubric.
B.F. Jones, G. Valdez, J. Nowakowski, and C. Rasmussen (1995) developed The Technology Effectiveness Frameworkthat shows how to use technology to get a deeper understanding and allows students to reach the higher-levels of thinking. If teachers are undecided of what technology is the best to use, they have also designed a Comparison Chart.
Are there assessment tools available? What are they?
There are assessment tools available for choosing appropriate technology and technological tools for teaching and learning. North Central Region Educational Consortium offers a rubric that can be used to score technology usage within a lesson plan. The rubric guides teachers and ensures proper alignment with curriculum objectives and lesson planning. Rubrics can also be created to provide students with guidelines as to what is expected from them before they begin their projects. By creating rubrics in this way, students have more of a focus when using websites to search for information, and teachers are able to change their requirements easily depending upon the grade level and depth of the project.
Assessment of whether information is accurate or not falls upon the teacher. By utilizing electronic and library databases, teachers are able to access information that has already been assessed for its content through the database itself. By being able to accurately assess the information provided on a database, utilizing the rubrics provided by NetSavvy (Jukes, Dosaj, & Macdonald, 2000), as well as the rubrics found at the above wesite, teachers and students will be become technologically literate.
Information Literacy Resources
The Big 6, created by Mike Eisenberg and Bob Berkowitz breaks down teaching information literacy into 6 Big Steps. Each of the Big Steps have two sub-groups. The Big 6 are: Task Definition, Information Seeking Strategies, Location and Access, Use of Information, Synthesis and Evaluation.
School-Libraries created a valuable resource not only for librarians but for teachers as well. It has numerous links to various websites under the categories:
1. General Information and Resources for Information Literacy 2. Library Instruction 3. Online Evaluation and Information Literacy Skills to Use the Web 4. Web Page Evaluation Instruction and Tutorials.
Penn State University provided a step-by-step guide to help students learn how to research. It walks the student through nine steps, including copyright concerns. Each step is simple and concise and can easily be used by high school students. One drawback is that certain steps use databases that are licensed to Penn State University libraries; however the basic principles for searching and identifying databases and periodicals are useful.
ERIC Digest (ERIC Identifier: ED372756)
ERIC Digest provides a definition of information literacy and how information literacy incorporates technology.
An Elementary Level rubric for evaluating websites from Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators
A rubric from Cornell University’s library website to evaluate a website
An interactive math web site using a library of virtual manipulatives for K-12 math instruction and enrichment
Technology integration ideas for teachers and treasure hunts and other activites for students invovling several subjects such as math, science, social studies, and language arts.
Lawrence Magid hosts this website to provide useful information concerning how to avoid online dangers and explain possible risks that children may face, methods of avoiding risks and also guidelines parents and educators should follow to help prevent online dangers.
A website sponsored by the public library of Greensboro, NC, at , provides two types of resources for teachers and parents: it lists five search engines that are designed specifically for children, and it provides helpful tips to prevent online dangers.
A fun site that uses games and rap songs with robots to teach young kids online safety lessons. Netsmartzkids provides children with opportunities to learn about everything from keeping passwords secret to safety with Instant Messaging.
A site geared toward older children/young teenagers, that helps them, with the use of comic characters, to learn more about age specific online dangers such as cyber bullying or inappropriate cyber contact.
A search engine designed for students to help with their research in form of multiple search engines consisting of encyclopedias, universities, books, facts and references.
Kids website providing thousands of fun and educational activities, worksheets and games for kids.
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Alverno Library. (September, 2005). When to use different electronic resources. Retrieved on April 5, 2006 from http://depts.alverno.edu/library/rbsinfolitpage/handouts/WhenshouldIusedifferentelectronicresources.pdf
American Library Association. 2006.http://www.ala.org/acrl/ilcomstan.html (Accessed 14 Feb, 2007). American Library Association. Presidential Committee on Information Literacy. Final Report.(Chicago: American Library Association, 1989.)
Bell. (2004). Technology integration in the classroom: A rubric for best practices. Michigan State University Website. Retrieved April 16, 2006, from http://www.msu.edu/user/wegnerje/TechnologyRubric.htm
Bennett, L. (2005). Guidelines for using technology in the social studies classroom. The Social Studies 96, 38-40.
Brady, Laurie (2004). The Role of Interactivity in Web-Based Educational Material. Usability News, 6.2, Retrieved April 21, 2007, from http://psychology.wichita.edu/surl/usabilitynews/62/interactivity.htm
Brown, B. L. (2002). Professional development for career educators (Digest Number 240). Columbus, OH: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult Career and Vocational Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED472602)
Cherry,S. (2002). Twelve Reasons to Use Multimedia Projects in the Classroom. Ezedia web site. Retrieved on March 5, 2006 from http://www.ezedia.com/education/classroom/library/Twelve_Reasons.html
Cheuk, B. (2002, July). Information literacy in the workplace context: Issues, best practices and challenges. White Paper prepared for UNESCO, the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, and the National Forum on Information Literacy, for use at the Information Literacy Meeting of Experts, Prague, The Czech Republic. Retrieved April 23, 2007, from the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science Web site: http://www.nclis.gov/libinter/infolitconf&meet/papers/cheuk-fullpaper.pdf
Dempsey, B. (2003). Teaching research skills to young students: the critical role of the media specialist. Multimedia Schools, 10(2), 3-7. Retrieved March 4 and April 17, 2006, from the WilsonWeb database.
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Gale, T. (2005). Expanded academic asap online tutorial. Access 14 April 2006 from http://web7.infotrac.galegroup.com
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