14 April 2009

RIP Encarta, Viva Information Literacy and Wikipedia

Microsoft has announced that they will be closing down their online Encyclopedia, Encarta, due to the extensive use of Wikipedia. The part of the article that I was particularly excited about was this quote:

Christopher Dawson of ZDNet certainly doesn’t think so. The demise of the encyclopedia, he argues, should simply galvanize educators into teaching the research skills students need to wade through “brutally powerful knowledge sources” like Wikipedia and Google. “The encyclopedia is dead,” Mr. Dawson writes. “Long live critical thinking.”

Here is a link to the full article.

This kind of article reminds us how valuable and important the work we do is to our students but also reminds us that while we might be using the language of information literacy, faculty are viewing this "wading" through the web as critical thinking. This harks back to the questions asked at one the LILAC presentations I attended: Getting the Student Perspective, Is Joe Student Paying Attention? Are we using language that actually engages our communities to think about the actions they take every day as they dive into the world of information? Are we rendering ourselves obsolete by using terms like "information literacy" in the first place?

What language should we be using instead? Isn't that always the tough question? But really, what ideas do you have for other ways to frame these essential skills?

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