Tag Archives: information literacy

Week 6: Information Literacy

What is Information Literacy?

Information literacy is knowing when and why you need information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner.

Cilip, Information Literacy Definition, Source: http://www.cilip.org.uk/get-involved/advocacy/information-literacy/pages/definition.aspx [Accessed 17/2/2013]

It is one of the key areas of work for the Liaison team. It’s not just a skill for getting through university which is then discarded at graduation. Information Literacy is a lifelong skill for academic, work and everyday life. It starts (or should start) well before a student gets to university and should continue throughout our lives.

Some examples of lifelong IL would include

  • using your your IL skills to assess online offers e.g. are you being ripped off by an online scam? Is the offer too good to be true?
  • A student about to go on a workplacement researching their employer, finding out their journey to the placement and assessing the work culture required e.g. what clothing is suitable for a work placement in an office rather than in a factory
  • Making sure you’ve used copyright free images or lyrics on a party invitation or on your blog
  • Referencing web resources clearly in a project report for your employer
  • Not falling for an internet hoax

The lifelong importance of Information Literacy is shown via Barack Obama’s Presidential Decree

Information Literacy Theory

There are lots of theories on Information Theory which allow us to benchmark our services against other institutions. These are some of the most well known:

SCONUL Seven Pillars

CILIP Definition

American Library Association (ALA) Information Literacy Standards

ACRL Competency standards ACRL is the Association of College and Research Libraries division of the ALA

Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework(ANZILL)

Six Frames for Information Literacy Education

I have put some articles and useful links in the 23things Diigo Group, you can view them here.

Methods of Information Literacy Delivery


Information Literacy is a large area and can be delivered in a variety of ways. For example on YouTube, face to face or online via Moodle.

These are some good examples:

Our new Moodle Area




Cardiff University Information Literacy Resource Bank (I have used some of this in the Moodle area)

Further Reading

This week’s things look at Search Engines Beyond Google  and also Memrise which is a type of Information Literacy tool.

Don’t forget to look at the Cool Extra thing this week – lots of interesting things that Google can do!


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Thing 14: Search Engines – going beyond Google

Search engines market share

Market share of Search Engines Feb 12 – Jan 13. Source: StatOwl

When you search for things the chances are you use google (80 % of us do) but there are other search engines.  .Your  laptop possibly defaults to searching via Bing! Should you try another search engine?

This week  take a look at some other search engines, and blog on which ones you prefer, and what you would use in future

There are lots of different search engines out there, but the main rivals to Google are


Yahoo: http://uk.yahoo.com/

Ask (was Ask Jeeves) http://uk.ask.com/

Try running the same search across each of these and see how results compare.

University of Berkley has a  search engine comparison guide which also includes the Exalead search engine.
SearchEngineLand has useful guides to using Google, Bing and Yahoo

You can see some very extensive lists of other search engines from the SearchEngineList and from internet guru Phil Bradley

Other search tools enable you to focus on specific types of data or on particular subjects. These allow you to cut out some of the less relevant or less academic results. Here are a few for you to consider – don’t forget to blog about ones for other subjects so as to share with other participants.

Wolfram Alpha Not a general search engine – rather a ‘computational search engine’ so great for finding statistics, mathematical equations, data, musical chords etc. You can check their subject examples for a suprisingly wide range of topics

Scirus for scientific information including journal articles, researcher information etc

TechXtra for engineering, mathematics and computing

Zanran for Statistics

Google Scholar  for scholarly papers.

Open Access Repositories
Repositories can contain full text access to pre-print versions of journal articles, theses, working papers etc. Much research is freely available, although sometimes there will be time delayed embargoes. This can mean that you will find different versions for example you may find the authors finished word document rather than the actual typeset and published article. Visit the Royal Holloway Repository here.

Many of the hits you find via Google Scholar are mined from open access repositories. You can also search repositories via Opendoar a world wide repository listing and directory. An alternative is Oaister which is now part of WorldCat. You can also go directly to a University’s homepage and search to see if they have a repository. This can be  useful if you’re looking for a thesis from another country or are looking for further information on a project associated with the university in question.

Meta Search engines and comparing search results from different search engines

You can compare the different number and type of results you’ve found between different search engines and Meta Search Engines allow you to do this easily. You may want to think about whether the quality of results vary and if different search engines offer different types of materials e.g. images or data? Can we ever search everything via a single search box? How much stuff is not included in search engines? This is something we are always telling students – search engines only cover a small part of the web.

Meta Search Engines

Meta Search Engines search across several search engines so that you don’t have to repeat your search in each one.

http://www.metacrawler.com/  searches google, bing and yahoo and will state if results are exclusive to any of the providers

www.dogpile.com Dogpile seems similar as it searches google, bing and yahoo and will state if results are exclusive to any of the providers. The design is quite cute with dog images though! You can search the UK version and compare results
 http://www.zuula.com/ Zuula searches several different engines in addition to google, bing and yahoo. You can see results by each provider in results tabs at the top of the screen. You’ll see very wide variation between the different sets of results – you may also discover some odd results
Thing 14 Compare search engines

Try searching for your name in Zuula. How do the results compare? Why do you think that is? Is Google still your favourite search engine? Try running your search in one of the engines directly, and then compare the number of results you find running the same search using one of the meta engines – do you get the same number of results or not?

Adapted from the 23things City post on Google.

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Thing 15: Memrise

Thing 15 is Memrise – http://www.memrise.com/ – a site that aims to make learning facts fun.  Particularly strong as a way of learning new languages – everything from Finnish to Mandarin! – it also provides a fun way of learning new trivia or even just improving your memory.  Memrise is also an interesting example of innovative ways of teaching and learning.

Memrise works in 3 ways:

1. By making learning Fun.  It aims to get you to associate silly phrases and images with the facts you are trying to learn.  These are called ‘Mems’.

2. By exploiting the Science of how the brain works.  It does this by firstly getting you to make associations between the pictures and the facts, then by testing you on those facts, but in slightly different ways and over a period of time (through 3 stages – Plant, Grow and Harvest).  In doing so Memrise aims to embed the facts in the brain.

3. By building a Community.  Most of the courses and the Mems are submitted by users and if you don’t like the courses that are on offer or the Mems that have been suggested then you can always suggest another one.  This means that you could potentially teach your own courses using Memrise.  Cambridge University Press for example use Memrise to provide an English Language Tutorial.

Plant a short term memory

For Thing 15 you need to visit the Memrise site – http://www.memrise.com/ – and complete a Course.  You don’t need to log in to do this.  Once you have completed the course you need to blog about what you thoughts are on Memrise.

The Memrise site provides all the information you need on completing a course and a simple tutorial should pop up when you start to complete a course.  If you have got any questions or need any help then pop along to the 23 things training hours.

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