Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Critical Information Literacy Laboratory for Faculty

The latest Primo site of the month is a set of online material (particularly short videos and quizzes; plus example activities and discussion prompts for academics), Critical Information Literacy Laboratory, from the John M. Pfau Library, California State University, San Bernardino, USA. The students' videos and quizzes are pitched at 3 levels, and the teacher's material has the sections: CIL Best Practices; Free vs. Fee-Based Information; Effective Searching; Popular and Scholarly Sources; What Shapes Information?; Attribution; Recommended Readings and Videos
The interview with the creators is at and the resource itself at
There is a page at which explains their interpretation of Critical Information Literacy. They identify "traditional approaches to information literacy" as having a "focus on skills, such as: Locating information, Evaluating information, Using information. These skills are all important, and one needs to be competent in them in order to conduct college-level research, but there’s so much more that plays into information literacy. Critical information literacy not only attends to the skills listed above, but it also asks that students think about how information works. Thus, CIL focuses on key concepts, such as:" then they give the three examples of "How information is created" "How information is disseminated and accessed" and "Why is it that students cannot access most scholarly sources on the open web and instead need to use the library?" "How scholarly conversations work".
For me those elements would already be in "information literacy", however I note that they say in the interview that "We’ve heard that the “About CIL” section has been helpful for those who are new to CIL or those who have a very skills-based understanding of information literacy" so perhaps the "critical" word alerts people to reflect on or change practice. Also interesting is the careful planning that has gone into the initiative, for example "We’ve been strategic about selecting faculty who teach high-impact courses."
Photo by Sheila Webber: hydrangea, July 2016

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