BY MUKHTAR AHMAD FAROOQI
Technology has turned the world into a global village and empowered the individuals with quick transmission of data and information. ICT in education is bringing a new outlook to the way how education used to be worked. UNESCO report on Education noticed that the new advancements challenge traditional originations dealing with directly educational process by reconfiguring how educators and learners access information. Covid pandemic gave new dimension to teaching and learning methodologies and educators also took the challenge head-on to cope up with these constant changes and acquire various skills that were needed to survive in this scenario. While academic institutions had to shift to online/virtual mode of teaching using various teaching/cloud meeting apps to continue academic activities willingly or unwillingly. At the same time, availability of information everywhere, all members of the society including student, teacher, or parent need to know where to find out requisite and authentic information. Howard Rheingold (An American critic, teacher & Writer) has said that we need to develop certain skills which he calls ‘Crap Detection’ – knowledge of how to find and verify accurate, useful information in the internet age. In the age of information explosion, to assess whether the retrieved information is valid or not we need certain skills which are called Info Savvy Skills. These skills will enable both educators and learners to acquire definite information through internet or virtual learning environment(VLE). Albert Einstein says “Know where to find the information and how to use it. That’s the secret of success”.
Information literacy or Info-savvy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to “recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information(Wiki)”. Objective thinking and scientifically analysing and interpreting data implies info-savvy competent or skilled. One who is having all these skills is known as Info-Savvy. Information literacy also is increasingly important in contemporary times where technological developments are happening at a rapid pace and proliferating information resources. Individuals are faced with diverse, abundant information choices in their academic studies, in the workplace, and in their personal lives thus escalating the complexity of such an environment. Information may be available through libraries, community resources, special interest organizations, media, and the Internet.
Blast of technologies and digital access to the marginalized/unreached has led to the information that comes to individuals in unfiltered formats, raising questions about its authenticity, validity, and reliability. Social media has become hub of misinformation / disinformation that is creating hurdles in building a knowledge society. In addition to this information is available through multiple media, including graphical, aural, and textual, and these pose new challenges for individuals in evaluating and understanding it. The uncertain expansion in quality and quantity of information poses serious challenges in building a knowledge society. The sheer abundance of information will not in itself create a more informed citizenry but one needs to build a cluster of abilities necessary to use and evaluate information effectively.
Info literacy is key lifelong learning. It is not restricted to any particular discipline but common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. These competencies(Info-skills) enable learners to master content, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning and have the option of extending their investigations.
An information literate individual is able to: determine the extent of information needed, access the needed information effectively and efficiently, evaluate information and its sources critically, incorporate selected information into one’s knowledge base, Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose, Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally.
The purpose of Info-Savvy skills is to help teacher/educator especially in virtual learning situation to systematically provide information literacy experiences for students at all grade levels and in all subject areas. The key process that Info-Savvy uses for any information processing task is known as the five aspects (5A’s) of Information Literacy, and this is at the heart of how to become Info-Savvy. Jean-LUC Picard gave following skills to solving problems. The five steps that can be used to solve any information need are:
Asking (Key questions to be answered):
Asking skill requires the ability to clearly define the problem and its context in terms of questions. Crucial asking skills include: understanding the problem to be solved, identifying key words and forming questions around them, brain storming, thinking laterally, understanding ethical issues, listening deeply, filtering information (Refine Information from Noise), sharing personal knowledge and experience.
Accessing (relevant information):
Accessing skill is the wild card of the information cycle because at this stage, the path ways to be followed are totally speculative. One thing tends to lead to another, which means that just about anything can happen. Crucial accessing skills include: determining where the information is (sources of information), determine what skills are needs to find it, using a variety of paper and electronic sources, prioritizing searching strategies, skimming, scanning and scouring resources for pertinent data.
Analyzing (the acquired information):
The analyzing stage is not a linear process as it may require him to repeatedly revisit his original questions and to access additional data to address the information need more precisely. Crucial analyzing skills include; organizing and summarizing data from a variety of sources, checking data for relevance, listing and distinguisng between good & bad, differentially fact from opinion, revisiting the asking or accessing stages to fill in the blanks, using probability, trends and best guesses to seek out additional data as needed.
Applying (the information to a task):
Applying is nothing but the presentation of the collected data. Data can be presented in various formats of information like Text, Image, Audio and Video. This step completes the procedure wherein Data is converted into Information and usable knowledge. In the info-savvy context, this knowledge would be used to solve a problem, write an essay, develop a report, create a graph, complete an argument, make a presentation or do whatever else needed to be done. Crucial applying skills include: identifying an appropriate format for presenting the information and applying the format to present the information or solution to the problem.
Assessing (the end result and the process):
The assessing stage is the reflective, soul-searching part of the process. Crucial assessing skills include: asking questions about the process used and the information obtained, reflecting critically on the process, Is acquired data sufficient? Is data analyzed accurately? Is information applied conveniently? acting on these reflections, internalizing net learning and transferring the learning to other situations.
PS: In the age of internet and information explosion where information is available everywhere for both educators and students, like basic ICT skills a person in order to do any scientific, systematic and objective work needs to be info-savvy that implies he or she must have acquired those five skills so that he/she is able to retrieve and disseminate authentic as well relevant information in the age where disinformation spreads faster than the information. For virtual Learning to be effective, source and credibility of information disseminated to students through various means like web links, videos, text or images needs to be verified before being transferred to target group.
Mukhtar Ahmad Farooqi can be reached at email@example.com