Why Students Should be Information Literate

Computer literate students.Information literacy is the skill of learning by engaging with information. It includes traditional library research skills and modern IT literacy but is broader in scope. Information literacy is not just being able to find and present information. It requires higher order analysis, synthesis, problem solving and critical thinking. You strategically seek and use information as part of independent learning.

General Information Literacy

As a student, you need information literacy to:

  • read broadly about a topic
  • consider varied sources and perspectives
  • gather informative evidence
  • make connections between concepts
  • synthesise and integrate information
  • cite and reference correctly
  • evaluate the reliability of information
  • maintain cognisance of author bias and perspective
  • manage and organise information
  • collect and interrogate data
  • consume fictional works such as a student novel
  • relate evidence to literature.

ICT Literacy

Information literacy is also about using information and communications technologies to find, process, organise and communicate information. Information literacy is being able to:

  • do word processing
  • use visual presentation software
  • communicate via email and social media
  • use the internet and remote databases and catalogues
  • analyse and present digital information
  • edit and present images, video and audio
  • understand information systems
  • build websites and write for the web.

Information literacy is essential because of the explosion of information gathering and availability. Not being information literate means you miss out on opportunities to engage with people and, more broadly, with modern information systems.

Sophisticated Interpretation

Information could rarely be considered unambiguous and neutral. In consuming or producing information, you need to critically evaluate your own information use. You must also contemplate the assumptions and values inherent in the information and technologies at play. Information literacy goes beyond learning with information to include learning about the fabric of information and knowledge.

Information literate people:

  • find needed information effectively and efficiently
  • use information for decision making and problem solving
  • gain satisfaction from using information judiciously
  • critically evaluate information sources
  • manage information collected or generated
  • can do a balanced comparative analysis
  • apply information to construct new concepts or and understanding.

Empowerment

Information literacy is a means of personal empowerment. Information literacy allows people to verify or refute expert opinion and to become independent seekers of truth. It gives you the ability to build your own arguments and to enjoy the search for knowledge. It prepares you for lifelong learning and creates motivation for pursuing learning.

Internet Methods

Many students use search engines as their first strategy in finding information. Students regard the web as a good way of finding out a range of perspectives on a topic. While some students search to back up an existing argument, others explore the topic and develop an argument as they search. Students regard evidence in a broad sense to include statistics, facts, figures, opinions, ideas and perspectives.