Information Literacy in Virtual Environments: Changing Needs of P-12 Learners

Information Literacy in Virtual Environments: Changing Needs of P-12 Learners

Valerie J. Hill (Lewisville ISD, USA)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9629-7.ch008
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This chapter provides an overview of information literacy needs of P-12 learners in virtual environments. As more of life is spent in global digital participatory culture, information literacy skills have moved from primarily print-based to include digital content evaluation, content curation, and a personal responsibility for digital citizenship. Using standards for 21st century learning from the American Library Association, examples highlight information literacy elements embedded in immersive learning environments, such as the Anne Frank simulation (a 3D replica of Amsterdam and the annex where Anne's family hid) and a digital citizenship game built by students in the game of Minecraft. Creators of immersive learning environments in virtual worlds must accurately depict historical eras and cite sources for authority and accuracy of information. These 3D simulations provide opportunities to teach information literacy in virtual spaces with a shared “sense of presence”. Learners in virtual environments have digital citizenship responsibilities from a very young age.
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Learners growing up in global digital participatory culture have new information literacy needs that differ greatly from the needs of prior generations. Reading and writing were of utmost importance for P-12 learners just decades ago, but information literacy now includes numerous other formats: listening, viewing, creating, evaluating, and curating content. Futurist, Alvin Toffler, suggested back in 1980 that individuals are now prosumers, meaning both consumers and producers of content (Kotler, 1986). Prosumerism impacts all aspects of our lives, including the education of youth growing up in a culture where user-generated content is more prevalent than content from traditional publishing sources. The move from a primarily print-based world into digital and virtual world learning environments puts personal responsibility for digital citizenship on each learner.

The expectation of learners to produce content illustrating learning concepts, particularly in digital formats, such as uploading electronic Web 2.0 products, has become common in classrooms through free technology applications and websites. Glogster, Edublogs, Livebinder are a few examples of online resources that provide students with digital tools. Sometimes digital applications can be deceiving because the high quality graphics are exceptional but the critical thinking underlying them may be minimal. Librarians and teachers are encouraged to scaffold learning through guided inquiry (Kulthau and Maniotes, 2010), modeling good questioning techniques and a critical stance on issues.

Deep learning requires rigor. Learners of all ages, not just the younger learners, can run into trouble evaluating electronic resources and digital tools. Fontichiaro (2010) shares strategies for developing a questioning stance regarding digital content that can “nudge learners toward inquiry”. Learning to ask better questions when seeking information helps students think deeply and critically and makes learning a rigorous activity. This rigor applies to immersive gaming environments where participants must concentrate on difficult tasks even though the game-like state is interpreted as play (Gee, 2003). The first academic article to use the term ‘playbour’ (often spelled playbor), a portmanteaux combining play and labor, was Julian Kucklich (2005). The playbor concept illustrates that learning in a gaming environment can be both enjoyable and challenging; however, education has been far behind commercial business in utilizing videogames (Rey, 2012).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Metaliteracy: The ability to utilize information across many formats, including print, audio, digital, virtual, or augmented resources.

Digital Culture: Society (post Internet) is connected online through mobile devices and computer networks across time and space.

Constructivist Learning Theory: A belief that learners construct knowledge themselves through personal interest, knowledge, experience and social interaction.

Immersive Learning Environment: A digital space built in 3D for individuals to interact and learn through simulation across a computer network or grid.

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC): An open access course developed for online users at low cost or no cost on a large scale.

Virtual World: A persistent digital environment hosted online for participants to build, create, or interact across a computer network or grid.

Information Literacy: The ability for an individual to locate, access and use information effectively in multiple formats.

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