Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Article Review

Differentiating Information Skills and Computer Skills: A Factor Analytic Approach

Authors: Judith M. Pask and E. Stewart Saunders
Libraries & the Academy; Jan2004, Vol. 4 Issue 1, p61-73

For the first time this semester, the goals of the CSCI 1300 classes will be deliberately and directly aligned with the goals of Trinity’s Information Literacy Committee. This is an exciting prospect – finally, our course content will hopefully be regarded by the academic community as something more than merely teaching technical aptitude .

Those of us who have designed and taught this course have long understood that there is a vast difference between computer literacy and information literacy, and we have always included the latter as an integral part our curriculum. The following article validates the difference in these “skills” in a study conducted at Purdue University with freshmen students. Here’s a quote from the introduction:

“Many labels have been used to describe information and technology skills including information literacy, computer literacy, fluency with information technology, digital literacy, and information technology literacy--but all distinguish between the computer skills, the ability to use specific hardware and software programs, and the higher order thinking skills of information literacy. 2 Although an individual needs computer skills to be information literate, it is generally agreed that information literacy has much broader implications than computer literacy. 3”

And here is the authors’ conclusion, obvious to those of us who teach the Computer Skills course, hopefully to be renamed soon as Essential Information Technology:

“The study clearly shows that students need instruction in both skill areas. Now libraries not only have a logical rationale but also an empirically demonstrable foundation for the pursuit of information literacy programs. Librarians, in collaboration with other classroom instructors and information technology professionals, can and must develop information literate students by teaching research and evaluation skills that go beyond the mechanical skills necessary to use computers and databases.”

As we look forward to the semester, we review our revamped goal for our students – to develop hands-on innovative approaches to experiential learning, enhance critical thinking skills, understand and master tools of software applications in an academic environment and explore imaginative ways to use technology inside and outside the curriculum.

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