May 24, 2006

Big questions on information literacy

What needs to change when our students can publish to a worldwide audience?

How does a teacher's role change when we can bring primary sources into the classroom?

How do we define literacy in a world where we must not only know how to read and write but to edit and create and publish?

Some answers.. Teachers need to be...

Content creators
Collaborators
Mentors to critical thinking
Change agents

Questions asked at the end of the presentation:

Does changing the way we teach make us lose power? How can we make changes when the system seems to be against us?
Small changes, little by little is the way to go. It's also vital to share what you're doing. A third element is discussing what is going on in your classrooms with new technologies. (Ewan's note: I'd say that by not engaging in these new technologies teachers are already losing power in the classroom. It's time to engage and be engaging with what is available rather than running away from it).

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I'd like to take a stab at this, Ewan.

How do we define literacy in a world where we must not only know how to read and write but to edit and create and publish?

We redefine literacy by ramping it up, not by starting from scratch. The tree R's (first coined by a Brit) produce a structure that remains relevant. We teach reading so that people can access information. We teach arithmetic so that people can process that information when it comes in numbers. We teach writing so that people can communicate information. What's changed is that information has changed. It's become digital, networked, and overwhelming. Because it's networked and can come from anywhere and from anyone, we must teach students not only how to read the text, but how to expose the truth about the information.

We must teach them to expose truth

Because it's digital, meaning that all information is made of numbers, we must teach students not only how to add, subtract, count, and measure, but also how to process thousands of numbers, and also how to process the numbers in text, music, video, images. It's all process-able.

We must teach them to employ all information

Because information is overwhelming, we must not only be able to manage all of that information, but also be able to get our messages through that storm of information. Our information must compete for attention in order to be valuable. This means that as we teach students to write, we must also teach them to communicate with images, with sound, with animation, and with video.

We must teach them to express ideas compellingly

And, finally, the ethical use of information must, must, must be an explicit part of being literate.

Does changing the way we teach make us lose power? How can we make changes when the system seems to be against us?


Answer from the presentation: Small changes, little by little is the way to go. It's also vital to share what you're doing. A third element is discussing what is going on in your classrooms with new technologies. (Ewan's note: I'd say that by not engaging in these new technologies teachers are already losing power in the classroom. It's time to engage and be engaging with what is available rather than running away from it).


I would tend to disagree, though conditionally. It is probably true that teachers are losing power, as individuals. However, what's gaining in power, enormously, is the classroom. What students can accomplish in skills and knowledge and production of artifacts; when they are exposing truth, employing information, and expressing ideas compellingly, could completely overshadow our old notions of teacher-desk power.

Empowered to turn a flattened classroom into a learning engine, could result not only in better life-long-learners, but that classroom becomes the new story about teaching and learning in the 21st century.

I also think that small steps are not the answer. Times require something more. I suspect that teachers will not retool for the new information environment until we take away the old, and replace it with the new. Remove all the paper, and put digital, networked information tools into every classroom and then say, "teach!"

2¢ Worth

The comments to this entry are closed.

About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

Recent Posts

    Archives

    More...