Information Literacy
Time 8.2 hrs

Difficulty Beginner
Prerequisites Intro to Web Design
Departments Human Technologies
Authors Ross Parker
Groupings Individual
Minimum Year Group None


In this unit you will learn some useful skills in terms of finding information online and then determining what information you can trust, and what information you should avoid. This is a very useful foundational unit, which you can apply across all your other subjects.


This work is shared under the following license: Creative Commons BY-SA-NC


The Pitch
Why should I bother learning this?
  • Want to know who and what to trust online?
What is needed to run this unit?
  • Laptop
  • Internet access
Interdisciplinary Links
Do not try and force this. What areas of other subjects might this reflect and/discuss language. For IB, links with ToK.
  • This unit will aid students in any other subject in which they need to find and make use of information, particularly information from the Internet.
  • Ideas of what knowledge is, and how we can establish trust, tie in to Human Technologies and TOK.
Teacher Reflection
What was successful? What needs changing? Alternative Assessments and Lesson Ideas? What other Differentiation Ideas/Plans could be used?
  • This is an area that has never been a unit on it's own, but rather been covered in parts elsewhere. This new structure will provide a way to tackle this vital topic in more depth.
Any CC attribution, thanks, credit, etc.

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5 mins
Who Do You Trust?
The Pitch
  • Want to know who and what to trust online?
  • This unit will give you the tools to find the information you want faster, and decide whether it is trustworthy or not.
15 mins
What Is Information Literacy?
Getting Started
  • Definitions
  • There is a strong link between information literacy and ICT, as it is ICT skills that give us access to much of the information we want to use.
  • Visual model

    • This diagram represents a huge area, so in this unit we will focus on "Locate information" (aka search) and "Compare and evaluate"
  • Where Information Literacy Fits
    • Digital Literacy is a larger area, into which Information Literacy fits, as shown below:

  • If you want to learn more about data literacy and how data relates to information, you can look at the unit Data Processing, after you complete this unit.
5 mins
Why Bother?
  • With so much information in our lives, we can easily "drown", and become unable to make sense of the world or do our work:

15 mins
Search Intro
  • When trying to access information on the Internet, a search engine is vital.
  • Consider the three search engines below. If you have not tried them all, have a go, and see how they work:
  • Notice how the different search engines vary in terms of what kind of searches they support, and the results they return.
  • In our examples here we will use Google, but remember, it is far from the only search engine, and is not always the best.
  • The way Google works is very complex, but this video gives a good idea of what goes on. It is important to know this stuff, as it can make you better at searching:

55 mins
Google Search
Hands On
  • Get started by working your way though Google's search guide, which is very basic, but contains some useful things to know.
  • Next, work your way thorough Google's feature list, trying all the different kinds of searches they offer.
    • Try to remember the ones you find useful, and use them in the future.
  • The video below shares some ideas for Boolean searching: can you think of a way to help you use these features to find something you want?

45 mins
What Is Information?
  • So far we have not really considered what information is. One answer is as follows:
    • Data is raw facts and figures.
    • Information is what we get when we organise data, filtering out bad data, and sorting/searching to make it useful.
    • Knowledge is what when we study information and extract ideas and information from it.
  • The video below unpacks this a little more, and also adds a fourth level: wisdom. It is business-oriented, but the basic ideas can apply to any situation.

  • If you do the Data Processing unit, you will have a chance to take some data, and turn it into information and then knowledge.

  • Some related questions, which we might encounter in Human Technology and Theory of Knowledge (TOK), is where knowledge comes from, and how we know that knowledge is "true".
    • Here we might talk about different ways of knowing (e.g. where knowledge comes from):
      • Sense Perception - how we sense or perceive the world around us.
      • Emotion - how we feel about things.
      • Language - how we communicate and understand ideas, to others and within ourselves.
      • Reason - taking things we know, and using them to extend our understanding to new things.
      • Intuition - things that we simply "know", without a given reason.
      • Imagination - things we dream up and create for ourselves.
      • Faith - things we are told, and don't question, but accept as facts.
    • And we might think about different types of knowledge:
      • Personal knowledge – known to oneself and verified by one’s own experience
      • Shared or social knowledge – known to and accepted by society in general, often as  convention and tradition
      • Expert knowledge – the province of specialists and experts, taken on trust by those who know less and who are not in a position to question
      • Divine knowledge – delivered from on high by a deity or divinity, found in sacred texts and scripture
      • Axiomatic logico-mathematical knowledge – generated from within a self-referential system, and created on the basis of the assumptions of the system.
10 mins
A Google A Day
Game On!
  • A Google A Day is a game which rewards you for epic search skills, and makes you better at search. Have a play, and see how good you are.
140 mins
Is It Reliable?
  • Information comes from many sources, including web sites, books, TV, magazines, news papers, first hand accounts, primary research, etc.
  • In order to be well informed, and make good decisions, we need to make sure the information we use is reliable and trustworthy.
  • Not all information can be trusted, and not all information sources are equal. For example:
    • A newspaper may make something sound worse than it is (to instill fear and promote purchasing).
    • A company may make something sound better than it is (to make you buy it).
    • Governments may distort the truth (to make themselves look better, or their enemies worse).
    • Information can be out of date, or simply incorrect due to an innocent mistake.
    • Individuals may push a particular point of view (POV) online (to troll others or draw attention to themselves)
  • When researching, either online or with more traditional sources, always be aware of the limits of the information you are working with.
  • Watch the following video to look at this in more detail:

  • By now, you should have some good ideas about how to treat online sources. Try to keep in mind the following:
    1. Always be skeptical, never trust any source outright.
    2. Always consider why information has been created, and what it is trying to achieve. Is it neutral or biased?
    3. Compare multiple sources, but remember it is easy to copy inaccurate information, so use the most trustworthy sources you can find.
    4. Think logically and rationally, and question/interrogate the information you find.
    5. Understand where information comes from, for example:
      • Academic papers produced at universities and published in journals are generally (but not always) well research and peer reviewed, making them more trustworthy.
      • Wikipedia, built by volunteer user contributions, is a great starting point for research, and is often very accurate. Many teachers hate it, but it can be an excellent source. However, understand that it can be edited by anyone (although there are controls to prevent abuse), so always check your facts.
      • Sites like Yahoo Answers are also built from user contributions, but  have fewer quality controls than Wikipedia, and so are less trustworthy.
    6. Images are not always as reliable as we tend to think: it is easy to doctor/fake images. There are lots of good online tools to help check image authenticity.
15 mins
Citing Sources
  • A citation or reference is use to say where certain information comes from. Citations are usually gathered at the end of a piece of work in a bibliography.
  • Citations are vital in helping people trust your work, and in knowing what other work to trust.
  • Without citations, information can simply be made up: with citations we can check where information has come from.
  • Citations are also important in acknowledging where ideas came from, and showing where we have been original. This is part of what is called academic honesty.

  • Citations can take many forms, and some teachers can be particular (for example, asking for APA or Harvard styles).
  • In general, for ICT in Year 7-9, cite in any way that is clear and easy to use.
  • If you wish to be more formal, use a website, such as to help you create your citations.

  • Keep in mind that citations are similar to Creative Commons attribution, but not the same: you should usually have one section for each.
125 mins
Evidence & Submission
Hands On
  • For evidence of learning in this unit:
    • Pick a search question, which may or may not be related to ICT.
      • E.g. why did Osama bin Laden attack the World Trade Towers in 2001?
    • Conduct research using a variety of sources of different types.
    • Question the quality and reliability of the information you encounter.
    • Use the best information you can find to write a brief (100-200 word) piece on your search question.
    • With your work include:
      • A title
      • Creation date
      • Your name
      • A CC license
      • CC attribution (if you used any CC materials in your work)
      • A bibliography using the APA referencing style to show your sources.
        • You should have at least 8 sources for this short piece.
  • Once completed, submit your evidence.
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Unit Students

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