A colleague forwarded me an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education’s The Wired Campus entitled "Computer Literacy Doesn’t Mean Information Literacy, Report Says." This article briefly summarizes a report from the Joint Information Systems Committee that found that while today’s "Google Generation" (people born after 1993) are computer literate, they are not information literate. Three issues identified in the report are:
1) Young people don’t develop good search strategies to find quality information.
2) While young people might find information on the Internet quickly, they don’t know how to evaluate the quality of what they find.
3) Young people don’t understand what the Internet really is: a vast network with many different content providers.
I actually find nothing shocking in this, since most of my students seem to fall into 2 broad categories: 1) those who know very little about computers and don’t know how to use the Internet as a research tool ; and 2) those who can find information on the Internet on any subject, but do not understand how to differentiate between "good" sources and "bad" sources. The digital history pre-test I gave my students over the last week also seems to support this position. When I was going back over the pre-test results today, I wondered if perhaps my test was unrealistic and expected too much from my students and that the only person who could get a good score on it was its creator – me. So I decided to give the test to a control group, my fellow historians at IUP. I have been asking (actually begging) my history department colleagues to take this pre-test so that I can compare their results to my students. I will let you know how it goes.