1ST Week, 1st Session Class Topic: Introduction to Information literacy
Introduction and students expectations of Class
Setting Ground Rules, Course overview, Syllabus and Instructor Expectations
Why do we need Information Literacy?
What is information
Why does this matter?
Understanding the Internet: What is the Internet
Who puts information on Internet
Types of Information Sources
What is Primary Source
What is Secondary Source
What is Tertiary Source
Primary / Secondary / Tertiary vs. Popular / Scholarly
Information literacy is the ability to recognize when information is needed and then locate, evaluate, manage, and use information efficiently, effectively, and ethically to answer the need while becoming information independent and a lifelong learner.
Our definition starts with recognizing an information need. This means we know we have a question, and we need to find an answer to it. The next step is locating the information that might answer our question. This is the information search. It is a process unto itself, and if this process is too difficult, complicated, or confusing, we may abandon our question. Becoming information literate should make this process easier and increase our efficiency and effectiveness in locating information.
The evaluation of information is a key step in this process. It is where we either accept or reject the information we found based on a set of criteria that we use to evaluate the quality of the information. Information literacy teach us objective criteria to use when evaluating information that should enable us to make better decision and moderate the impact of our worldview on the information that we choose to accept or reject.
We need to manage the information we find. That means we need to store and organize our information and ideas in order that it can be retrieved easily later when we need it. We may need the information for only a brief period of time or for months or years at a time. Organization can be as simple as a stack of notes or as robust as citation manager software. Retrieving the information that we find from our files, paper, or digital means that we do not have to start our information search from the beginning.
Next, we use that information to make a decision, to answer our question. In the case of a student with a research question, he or she would then use that information to write a research paper or create his or her project. Information needs to be used ethically. If an idea originated with another person and you restate it, you need to give credit for the idea to its originator, its information producer. For students, this means citing the information sources they used in creating their papers or projects. The whole process needs to be effective and efficient. We need to find the right information and find it with a minimum of wasted time.
Finally, information literacy is the pursuit of becoming information independent and a lifelong learner. As educators, we value learning. We want our students to understand that they should never stop learning and that asking, then answering questions for themselves keeps them engaged with life and expands their horizons and their understanding of the world. All democracies need informed and engaged citizens, and our businesses need productive, efficient employees who know how to learn and update their skills. What would happen if you chose to stop learning? How long would it take for what you know to become obsolete and turn into an information need?
To enable all of these benefits of information literacy, we must learn how to become information independent. This does not mean free from information. Information independence is freedom from a dependence on only one or a few information sources. It is the knowledge that many information sources exist and that they have value. It is the ability to find information for ourselves from multiple information sources beyond the usual ones that we are exposed to, then evaluate, and interpret this information for ourselves. It is the essential ingredient in becoming a critical thinker.
Why does this matter?
A class assignment might require you to use only scholarly sources. How do you find and identify those?
A presentation (for class or on the job) could benefit from a mix of formats. For example, you might want to use the actual audio of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech for a history class PowerPoint or part of a competitor’s commercial for a market share analysis for your boss.
You want the text of a speech by your state Senator to clarify his/her position on an important issue. You heard a little of it on the local news, but want to make sure you get the whole picture. Where do you find the actual words of the entire speech, either in print or in some type of database?
Knowing how information is categorized helps you make sense of it all. It helps you keep your sanity, and choose the best sources for your particular purpose.
Understanding the Internet: What is the Internet? The Internet is a computer network, in fact a network of computer networks, upon which anyone who has access to a host computer can publish their own documents. One of these networks is the World Wide Web (or just the Web) which allows Internet publishers to link to other documents on the network. The Internet allows transmission of a variety of file types, including non-written multimedia.
Who puts info on the Internet? There are many kinds of Internet sites that you might find during the course of a search, sites created by different people or organizations with different objectives. The animation to the right under Exercise illustrates some of the types of sites on the Web, using an example search for information about MP3 players.
URL Every Web page has its own address called a Uniform Resource Locator (URL). Much like the address on an envelope with a name, street address, city, state, and zip code, each part of a URL provides information about the Web page.
Domain Names The domain name tells you the type of organization sponsoring a page. It is a three-letter code that is part of the URL and preceded by a "dot." Here are the most common domains.
.edu = educational institution Even though a page comes from an educational institution, it does not mean the institution endorses the views published by students or faculty members.
.com = commercial entity Companies advertise, sell products, and publish annual reports and other company information on the Web. Many online newspapers or journals also have .com names.
.gov = government Federal and state government agencies use the Web to publish legislation, census information, weather data, tax forms and many other documents.
.org = non-profit organization Nonprofit organizations use the Web to promote their causes. These pages are good sources to use when comparing different sides of an issue. .net = internet service providers
In addition, more top level domain names were added .aero = for the air transportation industry .biz = general use by businesses .coop = restricted use by cooperatives .info = for both commercial and non-commercial sites .museum = for museums .name = for use by individuals .pro = restricted to professionals and professional entities
Types of Information Sources The content of research papers may come from different types of sources, such as:
Your own opinion and analysis
It may not be necessary to include each of these types of sources in every paper you write, but your instructor may require you to include them. It is important to understand the characteristics of primary, secondary and tertiary sources–they each serve a different purpose throughout the research process, and can strengthen your assignment, too. It can be difficult to figure out if a source is considered primary, secondary or tertiary. We will explain the differences and provide examples of each in this tutorial. If you are still not sure if a source you would like to use is primary, secondary or tertiary, ask a librarian or teacher.
What is a Primary Source? A primary source is one that is a record of events as they are first recorded without analysis or commentary. It may be a set of data, such as census statistics, that has been set out in an orderly fashion, but not interpreted. It may be firsthand accounts or direct evidence of an event or item. Original research often requires primary sources.
Primary sources are first-hand, authoritative accounts of an event, topic, or historical time period. They are typically produced at the time of the event by a person who experienced it, but can also be made later on in the form of personal memoirs or oral histories. Anything that contains original information on a topic is considered a primary source. Usually, primary sources are the object discussed in your paper. For instance, if you are writing an analysis on Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, the book would be a primary source. But, just because a source is old does not mean it is a primary source.
What is a Secondary Source? Secondary sources interpret or critique primary sources. They often include an analysis of the event that was discussed or featured in the primary source. They are second-hand accounts that interpret or draw conclusions from one or more primary sources.
What is a Tertiary Source? Tertiary sources generally provide an overview or summary of a topic, and may contain both primary and secondary sources. The information is displayed as entirely factual, and does not include analysis or critique. Tertiary sources can also be collections of primary and secondary sources, such as databases, bibliographies and directories.
Defining the area and limits of the research Setting boundaries in both breadth and depth of the chosen topic will maintain the research within the defined topic. The researcher should be clear about the area(s) that is/are included, and equally about what will not be included. This can be achieved by setting limits. Doing this will: • Enable decisions on where to stop gathering information • Help to ascertain whether or not information is pertinent • Keep the research focused therefore avoiding creeping growth resulting in an unmanageably large project
How much information is appropriate? Deciding the amount of information to gather is a difficult question to answer but one which the researcher should consider. The quantity required will be dictated largely by the nature of the research being undertaken,
What is already known? While deciding what information is needed for the project, the researcher should document relevant sources of which they are already aware. Under the main subject areas or headings, list the sources already known where information may be found. This should include all sources: people (specialists in the field and personal contacts); publications; other sources such as records, audio visual materials and artifacts; organizations and other bodies; relevant sources of information such as indexes, websites, bibliographies, or online databases.
Planning an information finding strategy It might be worth spending a few minutes thinking about a general strategy for finding information for the project: 1 Background information: sources can include general, broad introductions or publications such as subject encyclopedias. How much background information do you need or do you have time to find and use? 2 What are the key sources in the subject? How are you going to identify them? 3 Is there anyone who can help you decide where to start? 4 Peripheral information. Do you have the time and does the project warrant large amounts of reading around the subject? 5 Do you need to find everything written on the topic or only major seminal works or something in between? You will need to be able to judge the importance of materials. Omitting to mention a key work on a topic could be disastrous.
Key points • Decide whether or not it is likely that the research requires access to primary sources • Have a clear idea of the types of resources that will be needed • Think carefully about the quantity of information that is required for the project in hand. • Find out about the main resources in other disciplines which are relevant for multidisciplinary work • Define the scope of the research in detail to prevent ‘research creep’ • Document what is already known
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