As an educator, you might be tired of receiving work from your learners with incorrect information from unreliable sources and websites. You might also be wary of them hitting the first link on their Google search as the extent of their research, or using Wikipedia as their only source for information. If this is you, have no fear because Information Fluency skills are the answer.
You can teach students to use this framework that guides them through vetting information and determining its accuracy before using it in their projects. When you go through these steps with your students, they will learn how to craft solid cases on their own.
Understanding Information Fluency
The following excerpt is from our book The Information Fluency Companion. It will provide you with a good basic understanding of what this fluency entails and why its skills are so fundamentally vital for our learners to embrace:
"... From an instructional standpoint, the information learners obtain and use for their purposes needs to be relevant, accurate, and useful. It also generally must be sourced quite quickly from the massive ocean of digital knowledge we have today. This requires higher-order research skills geared toward the proper acquisition and analytical techniques."
"Information is the nuts and bolts of all things on the Internet ... since there is so much out there, unique skills are required to decipher it and make it useful to our needs. One must come at it with a perspective that to learn about the Internet, you need to ask the Internet questions in a way that it understands."
You can learn more about Information Fluency in the video below.
Using Information Fluency Skills In Class
We are bombarded with information every second of our lives. We assess the information and, in a split second, determine how it will affect us and our decisions. Information Fluency skills slow down the process so we can dissect every aspect and learn how to do it better. Interestingly, this process goes hand-in-hand with Solution Fluency, the framework for exceptional problem-solving.
Before you begin a project which involves information gathering or research, post the steps of Information Fluency prominently in your classroom. The components of Information Fluency are: Ask, Acquire, Analyze, Apply, and Assess.
Pro-tip: For a deep dive on Information Fluency, how to apply it in the classroom, and full rubrics for assessment, check out the Information Fluency Companion
Being the first, this stage involves the planting of seed ideas, brainstorming, and inquiring into the nature of the driving question. What will we tackle? Where do we begin? What’s important to you? Often the push forward is helped by determining an individual’s or group’s collective values. Listing these values might be a great place to start. For examples: community improvement, peer well-being,
Accessing information is no longer as easy as going to a card catalogue and getting a book or other paper resource. This stage involves accessing and collecting informational materials from the most appropriate digital and non-digital sources.
We are now on an exploration for gathering clues, whatever they may be and however relevant to our driving question. It’s about bringing items to the table to discuss so we can explore the aspects of the question. We are simply getting to know this main question; its clues, personality, quirks, difficulties, and advantages. What is this driving question and why should we care?
With all the raw data collected, the next step is to navigate through the information to authenticate, organize, and arrange it all. This stage also involves ascertaining whether the information is true or not and distinguishing good from the bad.
Next, we examine what’s on the table. We are now determining sources and their validity. It's like “picking up” and scrutinizing the information like paleontologists piecing together strange bones. “How does this information fit?” “Is it true?”
Once data is collected and verified, and a solution is created, the knowledge must then be practically applied. This must also happen within the context of the original purpose of the information quest.
The puzzle is now coming together. Step back and ask, "what does our product look like?" "Does everything fit properly?" We are constructing our masterpiece with the information that we have painstakingly inspected. We unveil the final piece and let it live on its own.
The final stage is about thoroughly and critically revisiting both the product and the process. This involves open and lively discussions about how the problem-solving journey could have been made more efficient, and how the solution created could be applied to challenges of a similar nature.
The process does not end at the great reveal. We must then reflect on our learning and our process. What broke down? What went well? What will we change? Was our product in line with addressing the driving question? Rate how well it did. Do we then go back to the drawing board?
You can see how students can then use Information Fluency skills on their own while doing research for a particular problem. It doesn't matter if it’s high-tech, low-tech, or no-tech research. With so much bad information in the media and the internet, Information Fluency skills are paramount to creating well-informed and reliable citizens.
Become Part of Something Bigger
The experiences you have with Information Fluency need to be shared with fellow educators. There's no better place to do that in the Wabisabi Learning Community.
This global community brings together those passionate about the education of young people to engage in joyful curiosity and learn from one another’s stories, experiences, and ideas.
We welcome everyone who shares our passion for transforming education. We learn with, from, and about each other in a fun and vigorous environment of trust and mutual support.
When you join our community you can:
- Access exclusive courses though our accredited professional learning deep dives
- Connect with a community of your peers from around the world who share your passion for learning
- Share experiences, ideas and stories as we support each other in our individual professional learning journey
- Find answers to the challenges you face in your practice from the best teachers, leaders and international experts.
- Be inspired by thought-provoking conversations and expert perspective each and every day.
Join us, and begin changing everything for the future today.