Saturday, September 8, 2007

Reflection on "Techno idiot" articles and Digital Divide

Summary: The first article was a report on the new concern that students are information illiterates, based on professor observations and testing results. The article listed educators’ suggestions for improvement, including hiring certified librarians who could pass down their info-literate skills to students, as well as making info-literacy courses a part of core curriculum at universities.
The second article was a response to a multitude of articles touching upon info-literacy (the article above included), suggesting that educators were responsible for teaching students how to examine information critically, and that the method of teaching this needed an upgrade from focusing on textbooks to focusing on websites.
The Wikipedia entry featured the “digital divide” term, its meanings and origins. The article also contained a view of the digital divide in a global setting, and listed arguments for the need to improve information accessibility to those who need it.

Response: I don’t think it’s possible to take on all three articles at once, as they represent two different topics, despite the parallels.
The articles, I found, both support the idea that it’s essential for students to obtain info-literacy, and it’s an opinion I completely agree with. Having existed within this realm of students during this Information Age, I’ve come across at least a few examples of fellow students being unable to avoid the inaccuracies spotted across their information sources, and unable to detect sources that portray opinion as fact. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to find that this was the case with articles I have written in the past either. From my memory, the idea of critically examining internet sources didn’t really surface until mid-junior high, or even until early high school. I was pleased with the suggestion of requiring info-literacy courses for university students; I would hope CSU administrators would already be prepared to address that need. My only complaint lies with the first article; I felt the reporter had done a mediocre job in giving the reader details in the definition of info-literacy provided. “The ability to use technology to solve information problems”… what is meant by this? I’m left to figure it out on my own.
I was pretty disappointed that our third reading assignment was a Wikipedia entry, especially when it’s topped with a blue box that blares “This section does not cite any references or sources.” Complaints aside, I suppose I hadn’t really realized the severe disadvantage faced for one who is unable to access the internet. The arguments listed for the importance of bridging the digital divide focus on that idea that with access to information, growth and an improved quality of life can be more easily achieved.
One thought that occurred to me when reading this entry was the idea of complete information access being just as necessary. There are a number of entertainment websites that I’ve come across that boast about having had their page banned from the servers of a certain country. From my understanding, this is applied mostly to countries in Southern Asia and the Middle East. China acts as a notorious example: banning websites, deleting posts, and censoring search engines. Following the bridging of the digital divide gap, I would a movement to end such censorship would take form, if it hasn’t already.

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