Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Essential Role of Information Fluency in E-Learning and Online Teaching

I've been researching and writing about Information Fluency since the turn of the century. My work is published on the 21st Century Information Fluency Portal: You'll find modular online learning content including games, micromodules and assessments on the portal. (Free for all educators.)

I include information fluency training in all of my online classes. I introduce power searching and website investigation to the graduate students studying in the E-Learning and Online Teaching Certificate Program at UW-Stout ( ) because I believe that Information Fluency is a foundation skill for all online teachers and learners.

dif model

What continually surprises me is that most educators (including those with advanced degrees) lack formal training in this field. Unless I'm working with a Library Media Specialist, most have little experience in searching, evaluating, and ethical use of digital materials.

Curiously, most educators think they are competent searchers and evaluators, when they are really just beginners. Their disposition is to ask for help rather than search for answers. With simple instruction many radically improve their ability to search, and evaluate. This is empowering and greatly increases learner satisfaction. Instruction in copyright and fair use is also part of the program.

At the same time I push the idea that it is everyone's duty to teach website evaluation and ethical use as part of any online curriculum. Too often educators assume someone else should have done the job by the time their students walk through the door. The application of information fluency to all curriculum areas is profound. Students given even rudimentary instruction in Information Fluency immediately benefit.

As online teachers and learners we work in a computer where information is just a few keystrokes away. I hope we can promote the disposition in all online teachers and learners that skilled use of Internet resources is the essential learning skill of our times.

Dennis O'Connor
Program Advisor
E-Learning & Online Teaching
School of Education
Online Professional Development
University of Wisconsin-Stout
Wisconsin's Polytechnic University
530-318-1145 (Cell)
Skype: wiredinstructor2

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