Information Literacy

What is Information Literacy? Information literacy includes the ability to identify, find, evaluate, and use information effectively. From effective search strategies to evaluation techniques, students learn how to evaluate the quality, credibility, and validity of websites, and give proper credit. Information Literacy has also been referred to as digital literacy or media literacy. Regardless of the terminology, be it digital literacy or media literacy, having information literacy skills are the fundamentals to thrive in a digital space.

What to Know

Today’s digital landscape offers young people unprecedented access to tools and resources for learning. The information that kids encounter, however, is not always accurate or high-quality. Foundational information and digital literacy skills, such as conducting strategic online searches, judging the legitimacy of online sources, sifting out misinformation, and recognizing advertising, can help set kids up for success as lifelong learners. For example, kids can learn to search effectively and efficiently with the right kinds of keywords. They also can learn that sponsored links (which commonly appear at the top of the search result list) are forms of ads and therefore not always the best resources. When young people also get in the habit of checking out an author’s credibility or bias, questioning whether a photo has been digitally altered, or cross-referencing sources, they can avoid being misinformed or duped.

Why Teach It

Help your students …

  • learn effective techniques for evaluating the quality and credibility of websites.
  • think critically about the intentions of commercial websites and advertising.
  • apply different search strategies to increase the accuracy and relevance of online search results.

Too often, students who are looking for information online— particularly for their schoolwork — conduct an oversimplified search that leads to millions of results. With a sea of information at their fingertips, it is crucial for young people to think about how they search and what they find online. As a teacher, you can help your students develop strategies for uncovering accurate, relevant, and quality information — whether conducting online research for school projects or exploring their personal interests.

Key Vocabulary

strategy: a course of action designed to help you reach a specific goal or result

keywords: the words you use to search for information about a topic

plagiarism: using some or all of somebody’s work or idea and saying that you created it

citation: a formal note of credit to an author that includes their name, date published, and where you found the information

digital photo manipulation: using digital technology to change the content or appearance of a photo

retouching: to improve a photo by adding or changing small details

synergy: two or more things working together to produce something that each could not achieve separately

collective intelligence: knowledge collected from many people toward a common goal

advertisement: a message that draws attention to a product and encourages people to buy it

banner ad: an online ad that looks like a bar or button on the website

advergame: an online ad that is also a game you can play

video ad: an online ad that is a video and might look like a TV commercial

pop-up ad: an online ad that “pops up” over the content of the website sponsorship

ad: an ad that specifically supports an event, activity, person, or organization