Information Literacy by stealth #RL2013

Imagine a tool that encourages students to evaluate, appreciate, consider, review, question their sources. Imagine a tool that encourages people to contribute to a global source of information. Imagine a tool that everybody has heard of. Imagine teaching & learning about information literacy without actually using the words “information literacy”.

There is such a tool. Wikipedia.

In our final event for 2013, Sara Roberts from the University of Canterbury shared her experiences of using Wikipedia in the classroom, as a tool for teaching information literacy & for contributing knowledge to a globally recognised information repository.

An enthusiastic UC Law lecturer identified a specific subject gap in Wikipedia, and set herself the Professional Development goal to contribute to the professional body of knowledge in her specialist area. Human Rights in Tonga is the page created by UC Law lecturer, Natalie Baird. She also decided to set her 3rd year Law students an assignment to create, edit &/or update Wikipedia content. She invited Sara Roberts from the UC Library to be an integral part of the learning partnership.

I love that students, lecturer & librarian were all involved in broad & interesting discussions – including authoritative sources, citations, author rights, legitimacy of information, writing styles, neutrality, referencing, databases vs. wikis, published content compared with editable wiki content – without actually calling it “information literacy”.

What resonated for me from Sara’s experience :

  • Teaching by experiential learning.
  • Wikipedia as a tool to learn alongside, rather than teach from the front, of a classroom.
  • Stealth information literacy.
  • Content creation for a global audience.
  • Empowering students to actively contribute to societal knowledge.
  • Partnerships lead to exciting & interesting collaborations.

Overwhelmingly, we shouldn’t fear or ignore Wikipedia. Embrace it. Leap in. Learn. Experiment. Like Jo Ransom’s earlier #RL2013 session on Chalkleº, Sara’s experience of using Wikipedia is another clear example of librarians facilitating the creation of knowledge in our community, fulfilling the brief of RD Lankes’ vision for New Librarianship.

Here’s our Storify of the event (which includes a number of links to useful pages mentioned in Sara’s session). Our WA participant, Karen Miller (@infoliterati) has also blogged her reaction to the session.

I’m already thinking up ways in which Wikipedia could used for communities that I am part of. Sara has also inspired me to stop being a lurker and actually be a participant in the Wikipedia community.



7 thoughts on “Information Literacy by stealth #RL2013

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  3. Cath Sheard

    I got a lot out of the other 3 sessons so was sorry to miss this, but it was the launch of our winter teen reading programme (glitter henna, cake pops, cadyfloss, Angry Birds – hilarious). Anyway, this sounds like it was another excellent sesson, and something I can explore in the next wee while. The series has been informative and fun – a huge thanks to Heroes Mingle.

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