The Web has become one of the biggest sources for gathering and providing information in our society and an invaluable resource for students in all tiers of education (Walraven, Brand-Gruwel and Boshuizen, 2009). This means that digital literacy is as important as ever to practice and develop to ensure the information we gather online is reliable and authentic. A major aspect of digital literacy is learning to manage, access and evaluate the information we find online. We can practice these skills by developing our own learning networks (the way we use a range of sources), which means developing three major literacies: information, media and data (University of Southampton, 2018).
Media literacy is best described in this video as it introduces the concept of ‘the media’ and ‘media’ forms we see online.
One of the most important aspects of media literacy is having the awareness that what we see needs to be evaluated. The infographic below refers to three forms of media which gives us unreliable/inauthentic information.
Information literacy is the concept of growing your learning network, being increasingly aware of checking and evaluating the information you find online in many different forms through checking multiple sources. This includes in data visualisations and media formats. There are seven pillars of information literacy which are useful to read through here (SCONUL, 2011). SCONUL have also applied a ‘digital literacy’ lens onto their study which you can find here (SCONUL, 2015).
Here is a resource which can help you spot ‘Fake News’ and false information.
Data literacy concerns how we visualise the data we see online, we are all ready to believe in data visualisations straight away without thinking about whether or not the data visualisations can be reliable. An article by Collins (2015) shows how data visualisations can be formed in a way that purposefully or accidentally confuses the reader.
An example taken from Collins (2015) article.
Unclear and needs an X and Y axis.
This one is better, but the Government couldn’t get proper data sets and so manipulated the data (Collins, 2015).
The best way to become data literate is to check your information from multiple sources and read reports directly instead of relying on visualisations.
The three literacies are all connected, data is visualized and shared through utilizing the information and the media. The media is used as a communication tool for both data and information. The most important point to developing how to gather reliable and authentic data is to be aware and develop these literacies.
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Collins, K. (2015). The most misleading charts of 2015, fixed. [online] Quartz. Available at: https://qz.com/580859/the-most-misleading-charts-of-2015-fixed/ [Accessed 11 Mar. 2018].
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University of Southampton (2018) ‘Learning in the Network Age’ [MOOC] Available at: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/learning-network-age
Vosoughi, S., Roy, D. and Aral, S. (2018). ‘The spread of true and false news online.’ Science, 359(6380), pp.1146-1151. Available at: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/359/6380/1146
Walraven, A., Brand-Gruwel, S. and Boshuizen, H. (2009). How students evaluate information and sources when searching the World Wide Web for information. Computers & Education, 52(1), pp.234-246. Available at: https://research.utwente.nl/en/publications/how-students-evaluate-information-and-sources-when-searching-the-
Ifla.org. (2018). IFLA — How To Spot Fake News. [online] Available at: https://www.ifla.org/publications/node/11174 [Accessed 11 Mar. 2018].