Try to imagine life before the Internet (yeah, it’s hard!) How much has changed since that time? And even more importantly, how much will things continue to change? The access we have to anything we want to know about has done a few pretty radical things for us. For instance, it’s transformed traditional ideas of how we learn.

It’s no longer necessary for a student to be in a classroom while the real world waits outside to be discovered. Thanks to the Web and mobile technology, learning can happen anytime and anywhere we’re comfortable doing it.

Students and teachers today have lots of uses for information acquisition. Some examples are projects and assignments, professional development, personal betterment, statistical analysis and comparison, or what have you.

The information we use for our purposes still needs to be relevant, accurate, and useful. This requires a keen eye and mind that are geared toward proper analytical techniques. A dash of instinct and a good dose of common sense complete the recipe for Information Fluency.

Information Fluency is one of the many valuable skills our students must possess today, and that’s why it is one of the 21st Century Fluencies. This video explains what Information Fluency is all about:

Information Fluency from Global Digital Citizen on Vimeo.

The importance of having Information Fluency in any digital age survival toolbox applies to students, teachers, and everyday people just like you and me. Here’s how to maximize the skills developed by Information Fluency’s 5 awesome As.

Ask

Know What You’re Looking For—Having specific questions about your subject matter or information quest will lead you on the right paths. Asking good questions trains your mind to think critically and search for the relevant and useful data. It also helps you unearth the most valuable information sources in your personal knowledge quest.

Acquire

Know where to look—Your information won’t always be in one location. In addition to one viable source, be sure to utilize as many others as you can. The Internet, ebooks, articles, libraries, videos, and people in your chosen area of knowledge will provide you with many different avenues for finding information.

Analyze

Know good from bad and right from wrong—When it comes to online content, a percentage of that free information can be quite spurious. All your data will require scrutiny and organization. Think of it as a “background check” on each bit of data you look at.

Here’s an example. Many search results will display things like similar threads that point to repeated experience, and commonalities that appear across a broad range of sources. Some sources will share more threads than others, and the less often-seen “facts” suddenly start to take a back seat. This isn’t foolproof, but it’s just one of the many ways the facts about what you seek can begin to reveal themselves.

Depending on the scope of the project or task, one can spend a lot of time moving between the Acquiring and Analyzing stages—don’t worry, that’s a good thing! Information Fluency, like all the other Fluencies, is meant to be a cyclical process.

Apply

Know what to do with what you’ve learned—After all that hard work Asking, Acquiring, and Analyzing, you’ve got to make that knowledge work. This is done by Applying it to the original problem or challenge.

If the question isn’t answered or your challenge isn’t conquered in the final phase, it’s time to back up a few steps. Don’t be alarmed, because this isn’t failure—it’s a process that sometimes has to be revisited. Keep going, and whatever you do, don’t give up.

Assess

Know what you’ve accomplished—This is a reflective stage in your journey. Here you look back at the steps you took to find what you were looking for. You also take a look at what the proper application of your knowledge has produced.

  • Is your problem solved?
  • Is your question answered?
  • Is your challenge met?
  • How could you have streamlined your own process and made it more efficient?

You see, even now when all is said and done, you’re still asking critical questions and finding new challenges. Good—don’t stop asking!



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