Web 2.0 Meets Information Literacy: Make new friends and keep the oldJoyce Kasman ValenzaWhen they leave our schools, today’s learners will not be called upon to createwidgets. They will be called upon to work together to thoughtfully use and createknowledge products.To be most effective, workers of the future will need to creatively blend severalrelatively traditional skills with emerging information and communication tools.And they will need to practice those skills in an information landscape that isgenre-shifting, media-rich, participatory, socially connected, and brilliantlychaotic. To be most effective, students will need understandings of traditionalinformation structures as well as understandings of the shifts in the wayknowledge is built and organizedTwo threadsThrough my librarian visioning glasses, I see two threads—information fluencyand Web 2.0-- beautifully woven into rich 21st century cloth as teachers andlibrarians who value thinking skills, inquiry, ethical behavior, and innovativestudent work hone their craft on a funky and vibrant 21st century learning loom,with learners as collaborators.About that new thread—Web 2.0--it is colorful and dynamic. Its fabric revealsnew opportunities for collaborations, creation of media, and interactions withaudiences never before imagined. Our learners already use this thread, theemerging collaborative communication tools of the 21st century. The November2005 Pew Internet & American Life Study(http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_Teens_Content_Creation.pdf) revealedthat 57% of teens who use the internet could be considered content creators.These 12 to 17-year olds have created a blog or webpage, posted originalartwork, stories or videos online, or remixed online content into new artisticcreations (Lenhart and Madden, 2005).About that other thread. . . The traditional strand—information literacy-- is asturdy material. It is fiber that many of us digital immigrants carried over in ourtrunks from the old country. It too deserves to be unpacked and shared--woventhrough instruction and learning.Information literacy or fluency is the ability to effectively and ethically use andcreate information. Although it has been described in various ways throughvarious models, it is generally considered a process in which students (and therest of us) recognize a need for information; formulate questions based on thoseneeds; identify potential information sources; develop strategies for physicallyand intellectually accessing information; evaluate, analyze, synthesize and
organize new information with existing knowledge; and effectively, ethically andcreatively communicate new knowledge.When we discuss information literacy, we are discussing the application ofinformation problem-solving and decision-making skills in situations learners facein all their subject areas and in their lives beyond our classrooms.Information literacy competencies are process skills. They will grow withstudents, even when current search tools and platforms are obsolete, when wemove beyond Web 2.0. These skills have legs. They will serve learners evenwhen they forget how to balance a chemical equation or how to solve for X.They prepare students to learn to learn.Information fluencies are embraced by the American Association of SchoolLibrarians and the Association for Educational Communications and Technologyin their Information Literacy Standards for Student Learners(http://www.ala.org/ala/aasl/aaslproftools/informationpower/InformationLiteracyStandards_final.pdf). They are woven through the International Society forTechnology in Education’s (ISTE) National Educational Technology Standards(http://www.iste.org/Template.cfm?Section=NETS) , as well as the ICT LiteracyMaps of the Partnership for 21st Century Learning(http://www.21stcenturyskills.org/). They are also woven through the standardsdocuments of most disciplines.So, how do we interpret traditional skills for a chaotic, exciting, multimodal,socially mediated information 2.0 landscape? And how does our instruction shiftas the information landscape evolves?Information accessInformation access involves recognizing the need for information, identifyingpotential sources, and strategies for locating information.In recent keynotes I have heard celebrated information specialists and futuristsproclaim that we live in a good enough / why bother world. If people can easilyfind some information, they will not be motivated to find better or bestinformation. As a teacher and as a librarian I find this approach impossible toaccept. My math teacher colleagues do not stop their efforts at multiplication anddivision. They move as many of their learners toward higher applications anddeeper mathematical thinking. Why should we not expect learners to mastermore thoughtful information seeking strategies?We can encourage students to seek information energetically. That may includereaching beyond everyone’s favorite search engine or wiki reference tool.Though Google rocks it is not the only band in town. Google’s information reachis staggering, yet it may not be the best strategy for all information tasks.Innovation is thriving in the search world. In fact, a number of alternate search
tools employ a less “vertical”, far more user-centered approach. We canintroduce the flexible A9.com http://a9.com with its 2.0 like user-centered resultlists and its transparent search across media formats--books, blogs, Web, video.Rollyo http://www.rollyo.com/ and Filangy http://www.filangy.com/ , offer a morepersonalized approach to searching. We can point to tools like Clustyhttp://clusty.com, where on-the-fly, expandable subheadings and relatedconcepts compensate for students’ limited vocabulary and content areaknowledge. KartOO http://kartoo.com/ and Music Plasmahttp://www.musicplasma.com/ represent a growing number of tools responding tothe preferences of visual learners. In a highly effective, if more 1.0 approach, wecan remind students of traditional subject directories like Librarians’ Index to theInternet (http://lii.org) or KidsClick! (http://www.kidsclick.org/) or the manysubject-specific portals that offer the significant advantages of selection and farless search noise. Debbie Abilock’s Choose the Best Search for YourInformation Needhttp://www.noodletools.com/debbie/literacies/information/5locate/adviceengine.html and Laura Cohen’s (U. Albany) How to Choose a Search Engine or Directory(http://www.internettutorials.net/choose.html) keep up with the choices and serveas a guide for students.The fact is that many of us can learn to use Google’s coolest features better tomake the types of materials we want and need most to rise to the first couple ofpages of our result lists. Teachers and librarians can point to the power ofGoogle’s advanced search tools. (For instance, you are likely to find reports andlengthy documents by first searching for PDF as a file format.) We can linkstudents to sections of Google’s excellent directory, for example its Issues pagehttp://directory.google.com/Top/Society/Issues/Because students will need to access both traditional and emerging sources,through both formal and informal information systems, they need understandingsof both worlds. In subscription databases, it helps to know the underlyingstructure of controlled vocabulary and subject hierarchy. Students can use theofficial descriptors or subject headings to help them gather relevant content.They can select to search by either keyword or by subject and that choice reallymatters. Field searching offers users great precision if they know what they arelooking for. While Google and other search engines assume an AND betweenwords and phrases, databases continue to make use of Boolean operators.Simply using the word AND in a database, can mean the difference between afailed and a successful search. In nearly all search environments, usingquotation marks to identify a phrase is an effective, time-saving strategy.It pays to take time to do some old-fashioned brainstorming before attacking asearch box. Developing a query involves deciding on the important words,predicting the words and phrases most likely to appear in your “dream”documents. Searching is an interactive, recursive process. We can teach
students to mine their result lists to find additional words and phrases will allowthem to use vocabulary they might not have originally considered.Students have greater search power when they understand the newly taggedworld. Tags are emerging as powerful tools, different from the structuredcontrolled vocabulary and subject headings of databases. Technorati(http://technorati.com) now identifies more than 100 million author-generatedtags (Sifry, 2006). As they search, students should be on the look out for thevarious types of tags assigned to the best information they find. Those public-created tags will assist them in gathering related content. They can discoverinformation relationships by exploring aggregators like technoratihttp://technorati.com or del.icio.us http://del.icio.us/ . Student-developed tagclouds allow for browsing among related concepts, broader and narrower terms,names, places, etc. offering a freedom beyond outlining or taxonomy. A teacherswho asks a learner to “show me your tag cloud” will see the various directions astudent’s research, and her thinking, is taking.We can teach students to control their own information worlds. By selectingrelevant RSS feeds, they restructure search dynamics, channeling information toautomatically flow in their direction, personalizing their own stream of information.As students find relevant information and news sources, we need to guide themto seek RSS buttons and capture those feeds.According to the Pew study The Internet Goes to College: How Students areLiving in the Future with Today’s Technology, (Jones and Madden, 2002)freshman college students favor commercial searches engines over academicdatabases their universities support: “Although academic resources are offeredonline, it may be that students have not been taught, or have not yet figured out,how to locate these resources” (p. 13).Those who wait for information to be set free, those who wait for all the scholarsand authors to put their work up outside of their books and journals, may bewaiting a very long time. As Google strives to digitize the print content ofuniversity libraries, our K12 students may not recognize that they havesubstantial libraries of content already available to them that Google hasn’t yetand may never grab. They do not have to wait.Hundreds of databases offer hundreds of thousands of valuable documentsbeyond those accessible on the free Web. Schools, state and national librariesand government agencies subscribe to content that is both developmentally andcontent-appropriate for learners. Unless we teach students about the enormousvalue of these reference sources, ebooks, magazine, journal, and newspaperarticles, unless we value them ourselves, students will not find them or use them.I could not conduct my own research without the university equivalents ofdatabases created by such vendors as: EBSCO, ProQuest, Gale, Wilson, to
name just a few. Because our school culture values these sources, becausethey are designed directly to meet their information needs, our students havegrown to love them as well. We point to them in our pathfinders. We createaccess to them both by name (http://mciu.org/~spjvweb/catalogs.html) and bysubject (http://mciu.org/~spjvweb/databasessubject.html and we look forward tofinding an effective federated search solution that will search across thedatabases, our catalog, and the Web.Teachers and librarians must ensure that these valuable materials get used andare no further than a click or two away from learners. Students who do not haveaccess to this substantial content, students who choose not to use them, are partof what I consider an information underclass. It is distressing that students andteachers settle for information that is good enough, when excellent is out thereand just one further click away. Students need to be able to access the scholarlycontent their professors will expect them to grapple with, the business journalsand reports their employers will want them to cite in board meetings.If scholarly or professional content makes sense for your students and yourbudget does not allow an investment, free choices are increasing and we mustlink students to them. In addition to Google Scholar http://scholar.google.comand Windows Live Academic http://academic.live.com searches, our pathfindersmight guide students to sources with limited full text journal content: theDirectory of Open Access Journals http://www.doaj.org/, FindArticleshttp://www.findarticles.com/FreeFullText.com http://freefulltext.com/I.htmMagPortal.com http://magportal.com/. Google recently Google announced itsNews Archive Search http://news.google.com/archivesearch of both free andpay-per-use content and Time Magazine recently posted its free archive(http://www.time.com/time/archive/) which reaches back to 1923.Interactive survey sites allow students to design and conduct original research.Using tools like SurveyMonkey (http://www.surveymonkey.com/) andSurveyScholar http://www.surveyscholar.com/, ZohoPolls http://polls.zoho.com/,and Zoomerang http://info.zoomerang.com/, students can easily collect data andgraphically describe their results. Surveys are truly authentic experiencesrequiring students to navigate through some of the sticky issues of inquiry--predicting question issues, deciding how large a sample should be, designingeffective question formats---single choice, multiple choice, rating scales, drop-down menus. The sophisticated reports these sites generate eliminate some ofthe challenging statistical work previously associated with playing with surveydata, forcing learners to focus on understanding and interpretationThe internet fosters a search environment in which learners work independently,often in their rooms, often after midnight. There are fewer face-to-faceopportunities for adults to intervene to help assess an information problem, focusa topic, suggest keywords and alternate vocabulary, or recommend a critical
book or website or portal. While we should celebrate the independence oflearners, we must recognize that any 15-year-old doesn’t really know what shedoesn’t know.We can guide students through the search process by creating onlinelandscapes that help them make sense of their nearly limitless choices.Collaboratively created Web-based pathfinders can create information blueprintsfor particular units or projects. They pull together resources of multiple formats tomeet the specific needs of the learning community. Using these tools, we cancreate schema to help students to think in terms of information clusters orbuckets—the types of buckets they will be able to apply to future informationtasks. As teachers and librarians in this new landscape, we have newopportunities to intervene, AND to have dialog, while respecting young people’sneed for independence. Librarians are beginning to move their pathfinders toblogs and wikis, to open them to students and teachers for collaboration andcomments. They can suggest search strategies. They can lead students toinformation types-- primary sources, literary criticism, biography, news. They canlead students to the variety of information formats—portals of streaming media,wikibooks, ebooks, blogs, ejournals. The internet offers us opportunities forexamining global perspectives. As students research the issues of our day, weneed to help them to discover the media of other regions—the streaming media,the newspapers.EvaluationThis fluency involves determining accuracy, relevance, comprehensiveness;distinguishing among facts, points of view and opinions; and selecting the mostuseful resources for a particular information need.The traditional publication process made evaluation a much simpler skill back inthe days before digitization, and in the days before information assumed newdemocratic formats. And while it was easier to teach evaluation in a controlled,black and white world, a world where resources fit into neat little boxes, we nowlive in a wonderfully rich confusion.New, as well as traditional questions emerge as learners evaluate the informationthey find. What is authority? Whose voices are valid and when? Is it best toexamine the collective knowledge of the public, or the expert knowledge ofacademics? What is the information context? Is it a casual information need or aformal or critical project? Who is the audience for my project? Is it an instructorwho values scholarship and depth? Is it a breaking issue for which scholarlymaterial does not yet exist? Is the best source scholarly, popular, trade; “on theground” and timely, or retrospective and reflective; primary or secondary; biasedor balanced?Just as mega-store sites like Amazon address the long tail or the niche market,the Web, and blogging especially, promote the flourishing of the niche opinion, a
great democratic concept, but a challenge for learners struggling to evaluatecontext and bias.We’ve been offering advice for evaluating websites for more than ten years: usea healthy amount of skepticism when examining any source regarding authority,credibility, accuracy, relevance, and timeliness. We’ve suggested studentsperform Google link checks to see who has linked to a site in question or consulthttp://whois.org to identify the origin of a domain. Similar advice should beapplied to Web 2.0 sources. Kathy Schrock offers a rich collection of evaluationtools for both 1.0 and 2.0 on her Guide for Educators(http://school.discovery.com/schrockguide/eval.html).How should students evaluate and select blogs as information sources? Withblog space doubling every six months and technorati http://technorati.comtracking more than 37 million blogs (Sifrey, 2006), how do we help learners to cutthrough the noise? Blogs are essentially primary sources and can provide livelyinsights and perspectives not documented by traditional sources. They comparein some ways to a traditional interview, with the speaker controlling thequestions. Ripe for essays and debate, blogs present not only the traditional twosides of an issue, but the potentially thousands of takes. And those takes takeless time to appear than those documents forced through the traditionalpublishing or peer review process. Blogs allow scholars and experts writtenopportunities to loosen their ties and engage in lively conversation.Blogs require new types of examination. Some questions learners might ask asthey evaluate blogs: • Who is the blogger? With so many blogs offering spotty or nonexistent “about” pages, this may be a clue in itself. • What sorts of materials is the blogger reading or citing? • Does this blogger have influence? Is the blog well-established? Who and how many people link to the blog? Who is commenting? Does this blog appear to be part of a community? (The best blogs are likely to be hubs for folks who share interests with the blogger.) Tools like Technorati http:// technorati.com and Blogpulse http://blogpulse.com can help learners assess the influence of a blog. • Is this content covered in any depth, with any authority? • How sophisticated is the language, the spelling? • Is this blog alive? It there a substantial archive? How current are the posts? • At what point in a story’s lifetime did a post appear? Examining a story’s date may offer clues as to the reliability of a blog entry. • Is the site upfront about its bias? Does it recognize/discuss other points of view? (For certain information tasks--an essay or debate--bias may be especially useful. Students need to recognize it.)
• If the blogger is not a traditional “expert,” is this a first-hand view that would also be valuable for research? Is it a unique perspective?For our 8th project on the Middle Ages, we illustrate the process of evaluation bypulling up a slightly cleaned up Google result list. Together with the classroomteacher, students discuss whether or not items on the list would makeappropriate choices for the particular research task. We look at portals, andblogs, wikis, student-generated sites, and university sites. The teacherdiscusses whether it makes sense to use Wikipedia or other encyclopedias assources. For many of our teachers these reference tools are good places tostart. They may work as strategies for building vocabulary, identifying experts,and locating additional resources.Over the past couple of years a big issue in learning to evaluate has been whatto do about Wikipedia. Its content is heavily accessed; its articles appear onnearly every result list. Its democratic editing process provokes questions relatingto the wisdom of crowds and the value of experts. Wikipedia forces us toexamine the dynamic nature of information and to explore how knowledge isbuilt. Whom do we trust and when do we trust them?If a project has to do with breaking news, a hot topic, technology, or popularculture, Wikipedia may be the very best place to start. One of its advantagesover print is that it is not limited by traditional publishing restrictions of cost orsize. It is able to address the long information tail, providing something for nearlyany interest.But when teachers encourage students to find scholarly materials, Wikipedia maynot be the best place to start. Academics, concerned about tenure andpromotion generally find other avenues for publication. High school anduniversity students need to know that teachers and professors will expect them toreach beyond Wikipedia.I want my students to succeed in any academic setting. I want them to find thebest possible sources for their specific needs. In some circumstances Wikipedia,or any traditional encyclopedia may be embarrassing to cite. In an interviewquoted in David Weinberger’s Joho the Blog, Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales, speakingas a panelist responds to an audience question(http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/mtarchive/annenberg_hyperlinking_in_web_1.html): I get at least one email a week from a college student who says he got an F citing Wikipedia. I write back saying, "For Gods sake, youre in college. Why are you citing an encyclopedia?" We tell people to be aware of what it is. Its pretty good but any particular page could have been edited five minutes ago, incorporating a new error. Its generally "good enough." (Weinberger, 2006).
Wikis can be an evaluation challenge. In many edit histories, contributions aremore likely to be identified by silly screen names than academic credentials. Asstudents evaluate wikis, they might ask a few questions: • What is the purpose of the collaborative project and who began it? • How many people appear to be involved in editing the wiki? Does it seem that the information collected is improved by having a variety of participants? How heavily edited were the pages you plan to use? • How rich is the wiki? How many pages does it contain? • Does the project appear to be alive? Are folks continuing to edit it? • Does the information appear accurate? Can I validate it in other sources?Social responsibility and information ethicsThese fluencies involve contributing positively to the learning community,practicing ethical and responsible behavior regarding information and informationtechnology, recognizing the principles of intellectual freedom, respectingintellectual property, and ensuring equitable information access.It’s increasingly tough to model respect for intellectual property in a world of shiftand change, in a world of mixing and mashing, in a world of ubiquitous sharing,casual online communication, and pirating. Debate continues to rage regardinghow to balance users’ needs for access to information while protecting the rightsof content creators to profit from their labor. It is far bigger than our classrooms.Students are rightly confused and frustrated. The Pew Internet & American Lifestudy, Teen Content Creators and Consumers, quoted researcher Mary Maddenin its press release (http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/113/press_release.asp). Today’s online teens have grown up amidst the chaos of the digital copyright debate, and it shows. . .At a time when social norms around digital content don’t always appear to conform with the letter of the law, many teens are aware of the restrictions on copyrighted material, but believe it’s still permissible to share some content for free. (Lenhart & Madden, 2005, Press release)Can we create a climate of information ethics? Can we guide students tobehavior that is fair and just and respectful of intellectual property withoutcompromising their creativity and enthusiasm? Today, a single student projectmight incorporate downloaded video clips, music, and art, as well as quoted text.It is also likely to be broadcast.When projects stayed in our classrooms, limiting the amount of borrowed contentand simple documentation were generally enough for students to ethically usethe creative work of others. Limited use of the works of others in any media
generally fell under the guidelines of educational Fair Use. With studentsregularly publishing and broadcasting beyond classroom walls, they need to takegreater care and use new strategies when they borrow the creative works ofothers. On the Web, it is not always possible to get permission from or evenidentify a content creator.Multimedia authoring and Web-based learning are way bigger and far morecommon then they were back when the Fair Use Guidelines for Multimedia(http://www.ccumc.org/copyright/ccguides.html) were created in 1996. Thisdocument, as well as CONFU: The Conferenceon Fair Use, with its Rules of Thumb and Four Factor Fair Use Testhttp://www.utsystem.edu/OGC/IntellectualProperty/confu.htm, describe howeducators and students may use copyrighted materials in limited ways.We can help by teaching students about the Guidelines when they produce andpost media. We can ease some of the confusion by teaching students about thenew flexible protections and freedoms made possible by Creative Commonshttp://creativecommons.org/ licensing. While the “Big C” means permission isusually necessary for students to publish or broadcast content created by others,Creative Commons http://creativecommons.org/ presents a “some rightsreserved” model. The nonprofit site shares a “flexible range of protections andfreedoms” that allows authors, musicians, visual artists, and educators to sharetheir work while maintaining ownership and copyright. The Creative Commonswebsite features two comics, as well as Get Creative, a video describing theWhite Stripes’ approach to sharing their music without intermediarieshttp://mirrors.creativecommons.org/getcreative/. These resources are designedto help explain the new licensing concepts to learners, educators, and contentcreators.We can guide students to use the resources linked to on the Creative Commonssite, to public domain resources, and to the growing number of copyright-friendlyportals where individuals are choosing to share their own video, audio, images,and more. (Here’s a starter list from our websitehttp://mciu.org/~spjvweb/cfimages.html).The great conversation that is developing knowledge is not limited by geographyor culture. Learners now have global reach. They are likely to be interested inusing content created beyond the borders of their country and their limited legalunderstandings. How do the laws regarding copyright translate across multipleborders? We need to watch the work of the World Intellectual PropertyOrganization http://www.wipo.int/copyright/en .Even simple documentation is complicated by the fact that the official style bookshave not kept up with students’ new array of information choices. If we expectethical behavior, we have to make it less painful for learners who want to behaveethically. Even before the examples hit the standard style manuals, we should
facilitate students’ ethical behavior by adapting and modeling citation formats forblogs and wikis and podcasts and whatever is coming next. Interactive citationtools have been around for some time and do help students keep up with theshifting formats between formal print editions. Debbie and Damon Abilock’sNoodleBib teaches about information options as it generates citations. Thissummer NoodleBib added an interactive note card generator. David Warlick’sSon of Citation Machine http://citationmachine.net/ offers guidance for the newcommunication tools as well.Blog space appears rife with confusion about linking to and posting the creativematerials of others. An About.com interview with intellectual property experts andlaw bloggers Kimberlee Weatherall and Eugene Volokh offers 14 Copyright Tipsfor Bloggershttp://weblogs.about.com/od/issuesanddiscussions/a/copyrighttips.htmThe Chilling Effects Clearinghouse, a joint project of the Electronic FrontierFoundation and a variety of prestigious university law clinics, offers explanationof intellectual property in the digital information landscape.Cyberjournalist.net offers A Bloggers’ Code of Ethicshttp://www.cyberjournalist.net/news/000215.php, a document well worthdiscussing with student bloggers. David Warlick posts and discusses his ownproposed A Student & Teacher Information Code of Ethics on his 2 Cents WorthBlog http://davidwarlick.com/2cents/2006/08/23/getting-right-down-to-it/Social responsibility is also about etiquette. I’ve taken to asking audiences to“blog kindly” when I present. Many of my colleagues (and I) are stung by thewords of defamatory bloggers who write with unnecessary venom aboutsomething we said or something we wore. Bloggers do not have editors.Bloggers blog fast. Rash thoughts may be posted before a blogger really chewson an idea, before emotion subsides, before rational thought has time to takeover. In classroom blogs, learners should argue and debate and criticize, butthey also should be sensitive and respectful. As teachers, we can inspire adegree of impulse control for learners who blog.While disagreement is evident, much of the online discussion relating to bloggingethics considers the following guidelines. Bloggers should: • credit their sources, • check their facts, • admit when they discover they have made a mistake, • avoid harming others, • and disclose their biasesSome of the discussion rejects the notion that we need a code of ethics.Regardless of how strongly we feel or do not feel about guidelines for thischanging and more casual writing environment, as teachers, we have someability to shape its development in academics. I would like to see the next
generation of adult bloggers treat each other with courtesy and respect. Simplyhaving the discussion is important.Social responsibility extends to interactions wikis, as well. In class wikis, we mayneed to discuss and establish guidelines for how we modify information andnegotiate content. Guidelines for wiki construction could be class-generated,with the wiki’s about page serving as a kind of charter for behavior, trust,accountability, and contribution. These guidelines should serve to build theculture of the wiki. Even in an open authorship environment, participants shouldsee both their freedoms and responsibilities to the community.Lessons in social responsibility extend to the personal use of MySpace and othersocial networking spaces. Employers and admissions offices now regularly check“credentials” on social networking sites just as they do the credentials onstudents’ applications and resumes. All things being equal they may just pass onthe kid with the beer, the joint, or the skimpy t-shirt. The students we care aboutneed to know this.This social responsibility standard also relates to democratic access toinformation. Teachers and librarians can act to prevent the growth of aninformation underclass. Students need to learn about accessible alternatives tocommercial software. Teachers and librarians can guide learners to open sourceoptions and proliferating web-based applications. (Here’s our library’s list forstudents and teachers http://mciu.org/~spjvweb/opensource.html/.)As teachers and librarians, we too have responsibilities. While we look out forthe safety of our students, we must also protect their access to the informationand communication tools they need to learn effectively. We must speak upagainst school and government initiatives that prevent access to critical tools.Synthesis and organizationThis fluency involves the ability to see information patterns, to analyzeinformation, to organize ideas, and to effectively weave together ideas frommultiple sources to create a coherent new whole.Web 2.0 presents the ultimate opportunity for teaching synthesis. Students whoeffectively use Web 2.0 tools, synthesize effectively.Wikis promote a jigsaw style in which learners can divide a research task andshare individual expertise and insights to complete an information gathering taskor answer a driving question. They may be one of the best tools for helpingstudents to learn how to collaborate and build text-based knowledge as theyincorporate information from multiple sources, consider diverse ideas, learn howto edit, integrate feedback, and negotiate the content of multiple authors.Additionally, peer collaboration and distributed authorship remove some of the
“drama” associated with top-down assessment. Wikis shift the onus of correctionand improvement from the teacher to the community. Teachers can assess thework of the group, as well as individual contributors to the wiki communitythrough its history pages. Bernie Dodge’s Design Patterns for EduWikishttp://edwiki.org/mw/index.php/Design_Patterns_for_EduWikis offers strategiesfor designing thoughtful wiki synthesis projects.Blogging is also essentially about synthesis, with emphasis on the blogger’svoice as he or she engages in dialog and debate. Bloggers must ask suchquestions as: Based on my information mission, what do I choose to post? Howdo I respond to, analyze, interpret, personalize the ideas of others? How do Ibuild new knowledge synthesizing my own ideas with those of the communityand with what I have been reading?Blogs foster the kind of risk-taking writing that may not happen in the traditionalfive-paragraph essay. In this new form of public writing, students can share ideasbefore they are fully formed and solicit and use the ideas of others as they clarifybuild their own. Bloggers learn to connect with audience, to express theirmessages in concise space and in more conversational tone. Bloggers learn toweave their own voices into personal, unique communication products,developed over the course of time.New media projects as digital storytelling, inherently involve synthesis aslearners select and weave words, images, sound, and video together into acoherent composition to conveying meaning, knowledge, and personalperspective. Using editing tools like: iMovie, Final Cut, and Garage Band,students compose and share original media, incorporating the relevant ideas andcreations of others. If we are to teach synthesis in a 21st century landscape, weneed new strategies for encouraging and assessing synthesis in these innovationcreations.Regardless of the format of the final knowledge product, drafting, outlining,graphing, storyboarding are essential stages in the process of examininginformation patterns and synthesizing knowledge. The commercial toolInspiration (http://inspiration.com) has long been a strategy to help studentscollect and organize information and restructure knowledge. New tools likeFreeMind and Gliffy http://www.gliffy.com/ , offer learners similar features. Web-based tools like Writely (http://www.writely.com/) and ZohoWriterhttp://www.zohowriter.com promote written collaborations by allowing the onlineediting of documents.We have new tools for aggregating knowledge. Teachers can help to synthesizethe work of their classes, or other relevant blogs, on a SupreGlu page(http://suprglu.com/)-- or by collecting RSS feeds--modeling approaches studentsthemselves might take in aggregating their own research.
Communicating new knowledgeThis fluency involves seeking excellence in knowledge generation, collaborating,and contributing positively to learning community.What’s changed in terms of communication of knowledge? Web 2.0 is theperfect sandbox for our students to authentically hone this information fluency.We’ve always worked to inspire students to improve their writing, research andcommunication skills. Web 2.0 shifts writing and composition in critical andexciting ways. Web 2.0 means audience. Learners now have the potential for atruly authentic and globally connected audience. Learners are discovering realreasons to research, to write, to tell their unique stories. They can use newmedia tools to stream and share in ways that truly showcase their personaltalents. Learners are discovering that research can be collaborative, community-based, media-rich, and exciting.Writing, or public writing, doesn’t come naturally to all students. Throughclassroom blogging, we are preparing students to write effectively and regularlyfor many purposes, and for varying audiences. We are preparing them for thetypes of blogs they will likely find in academics and business—for those blogsthat are used for project management, professional communication, customercommunication, and for college courses.As we work toward inspiring effective student work and research in this newlandscape we will need to share new models. We will need to offer guidanceabout what a thoughtful post looks like, for how we respond to the ideas ofothers, for what energetic written dialog looks like, for how to develop a voice asa writer. San Diego State University offers a Blog Reflection Rubrichttp://edweb.sdsu.edu/courses/edtec296/assignments/blog_rubric.html thatvalues such criteria as: engaged writing, personal response to key concepts,intellectual engagement with key concepts, and overall use. Other blog rubricsvalue: response to other contributors, reflection, critical thinking, synthesis ofconcepts, regularity and length of entries, attention to writing standards andmechanics, and clarity. The trick in assessing student blogging, however, isbeing able to maintain the excitement of personal writing while inspiring studentsto refine ideas, to reflect and to think more critically.Through their writing and research contributions in wikis, learners learn tocollaborate, to share responsibility as a team member, to create together. Wikisrepresent a version of the peer review process for non-academics. In wikis,students help each other as they grapple with such writing challenges precisionof word choice and accuracy.In 2.0 space, the research process itself should become transparent.Research blogs allow students to record, manage, and reflect on the entirejourney. In a research blog, students can explore potential research questions,carefully craft thesis statements, annotate the most relevant, most reliable
resources for their projects. They can use the tool to build their evidence. Alongthe way, they can elicit comments from the learning community—their peers,outside mentors, and instructors. These checks limit the possibilities for researchholes and the omission of critical ideas. The resulting self-directed, but mediatedproduct, traces a student’s process and may continue to exist, posted as apathfinder to guide other researchersWe piloted this strategy with last year seniors as they attacked the culminatingresearch project of their choice. Our pilot research blog experience wassuccessful but will be improved this coming year with great interactivity. This isour model for this year’s senior projects: http://researchlogtemplate.edublogs.org/Communication in the future will likely be increasingly collaborative,geographically agnostic, and multimodal. But even when paradigms shift, somethings stay the same. Those who can use information to communicate effectivelyhave clear professional and academic advantage. The learner and the worker ofthe future must be able to ask the important questions, use information createthoughtful and compelling arguments, back their arguments with solid evidence,make decisions and reach conclusions. This type of brain work may result in astreamed multimedia presentation or a digital story. It may also result in a formalcorporate white paper posted as a PDF.I want my students to be fluent for all information formats-- traditional, currentand emerging. They should be able to identify a wide array of information andcommunication strategies and choose the ones that best meet their needs. Butwherever the information they need lives, whatever the vehicle they choose forcommunication, they will be more successful if they can weave some sturdy oldthreads into the fabric of their communication. They will be more successful ifthey can effectively and ethically access, evaluate, synthesize, and communicatein whatever version of “Web” we experience. Teachers and librarians togethercan prepare learners to produce work that will last the test of time.Information Literacy LinksAASL/ AECT Information Literacy Standards for Student Learnershttp://www.ala.org/ala/aasl/aaslproftools/informationpower/InformationLiteracyStandards_final.pdfISTE National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) for Studentshttp://cnets.iste.org/students/s_stands.htmlPartnership for 21st Century Skills http://www.21stcenturyskills.org/References
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