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Information and Technology Literacy

"Information literate people are those who have learned how to learn. They know how to learn because they know how knowledge is organized, how to find information, and how to use information in such a way that others can learn from them. They are people prepared for lifelong learning, because they can always find the information needed for any task or decision at hand."
--From ACRL Presidential Committee on Information Literacy: Final Report : Association of College & Research Libraries
Five Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education:
  1. Determines the nature and extent of information needed.
  2. Accesses the needed information effectively and efficiently.
  3. Evaluates information and its sources critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system.
  4. Uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose.
  5. Understands many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and accesses and uses information ethically and legally.

Web Site Evaluation

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Just because you found it on the Web doesn't mean you should use it. Use the tips below to see what you should consider before you use a Web source.

Don't trust everything you read on the web
Before you use information you find on the web, evaluate the website to make sure it’s a reliable source. Why? Because anyone can publish anything on the web. To make sure you are getting the best information you can find, ask yourself the following questions before using a website for a school project or research assignment:

Is the information current?
When was the site last updated? Does it matter for your research? A website last updated in 1999 may have information that you can still use for your report on To Kill A Mockingbird, but you wouldn’t want to use an out-of-date site for your project on advancements in medicine or technology.

Is the information relevant to your research?
Does the site relate to your topic? Is it appropriate for your age or grade level? Don’t just use the first result in Google. Check out other sources before deciding which site to use.

Who is the author?
Does the URL reveal anything about the source (.com vs. .edu or .org)? What is the author’s or publisher’s credentials and affiliations? You will probably find better information on heart disease from the American Heart Association than you would from a personal blog.

Is the information accurate?
Where did the information come from, and is it supported by evidence? Is the writing unbiased? Is the information similar to other sources? If the website you want to use is saying something completely different from every other site you’ve visited and article you’ve read, you might want to question its accuracy.

What is the purpose of the site?
Is the purpose of the site to inform you, to sell you something or to entertain you and your friends? Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda? A website about owners who look like their poodles may be amusing, but it is probably not the kind of source you would use for a project on French influences in American culture.

Try your ability to evaluate the Web site below. Click on the image to follow the link to the Web site.

According to the Web site shown below, dihydrogen monoxide (DHMO) is a common harmful pollutant that you could be exposed to every day. The Web site states the dangers of this chemcal. Follow the link and examine the validity of this Web site. Would this Web site be good to include in a research paper?

DMHO Website