New Information Literacies: Helping University Students Critically Evaluate Information Online

By Susan Luckman.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

One of the major challenges facing educators in the industrialised today is how to best teach critical media literacies in a world of overwhelming amounts of information. All too often simple access to information (especially that accessed with relative ease on the amazing resources which are Internet search engines and sites such as Wikipedia), is conflated with knowledge and understanding, that is, the ability to best source facts, critically evaluate material and bring information together in new ways and/or in service of one’s own argument. Instead, many students desire to find the one or two sources which they hope exist which directly ‘answer’ the question, and believe that their examiner is looking for a summary of this ‘expert’ work, rather than a cogently argued essay of the student’s own crafting. Interestingly, and as evidence of broader shifts in educational values, while ‘laziness’ or time pressure may play a part here, there is also a genuine belief on the part of some students that this is the correct way to go about researching and writing university essays.

As the coordinator of a compulsory first year university foundation course focussed upon issues in contemporary media studies, communicating skills in relation to evaluating online resources is something I need to address head on. In 2008, I introduced a new annotated bibliography assessment tool in order to help facilitate the development of greater critical research skills in our students. This paper reports upon the responses to this assessment tool and will reflect upon what insights it offers us into the place of critical thinking in the modern university, as well as the broader digital media environment.

Keywords: Digital Literacies, Critical Thinking, Search Engines, Annotated Bibliography, Research Skills

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp.499-512. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.298MB).

Dr. Susan Luckman

Senior Lecturer and Research Portfolio Leader, School of Communication and Hawke Research Institute for Sustainable Societies (HRISS), University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Dr. Susan Luckman is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Communication, International Studies and Languages and a member of the Hawke Research Institute at the University of South Australia. She has authored numerous publications on new media, creative cultures and cultural policy, digital music cultures, and contemporary cultural studies and is co-editor of: Sonic Synergies: Music, Identity, Technology and Community (Ashgate 2008), and a foundation member of the ARC Cultural Research Network. Current research projects include the ARC Linkage Project: ‘Creative Tropical City: Mapping Darwin’s Creative Industries’; the use of GIS mental mapping digital visualisation tools in cultural research interviews; and shifting digital media trends: a survey analysis.


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