Monday, October 03, 2011

Truth, lies and the internet

A report from the British think-tank Demos was released a few days ago
Bartlett, J. and Miller, C. (2011) Truth, lies and the internet. Demos. "examines the ability of young people in Britain to critically evaluate information they consume online. The report reviews current literature on the subject, and presents a new poll of over 500 teachers. It finds that the web is fundamental to pupils’ school lives but many are not careful, discerning users of the internet"
Little of the "current literature" is from the large body of information literacy literature (though actually there isn't a huge amount of research literature reviewed at all). The terminology in the report is a little confused, in that they conclude at one point that their survey shows that there is insufficient information literacy taught, their survey apparently referred to digital literacy (what it was asking teachers about was pupils' ability to deal critically with information on the internet) and their recommendations call for "digital fluency" to be made a priority in the curriculum.
With initiatives like this it's always difficult to tell whether different terms have been used in order to make the initiative seem different/ new or simply because people were unaware of all the existing work that has been done. It may seem carping, but it does make campaigning more difficult when people are using lots of different terms to describe the same thing, as you have to waste time explaining that X, who talks about Y, is actually arguing for the same thing as you are.
Anyway, the survey of teachers (gathered using a snowball approach to sampling) does add some new data, indicating that teachers think that their pupils are not very good at judging the accuracy etc. of material on the internet.
This is an area that is being directly addressed by the project here on Deep critical information behaviour"
Photo by Sheila Webber: Autumn heat in Sheffield town centre, last Saturday

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