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Information Literacy: How can we help our students (and ourselves) become discerning users of the Internet. Ellen Phillips Instructional Technology Specialist Queens Office of Educational Technology NYC DOE. What is Information Literacy?.

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Information Literacy: How can we help our students (and ourselves) become discerning users of the Internet

Ellen Phillips

Instructional Technology Specialist

Queens Office of Educational Technology


what is information literacy
What is Information Literacy?
  • Information literacy is a set of skills that enable individuals to recognize when information is needed and to have the ability to locate, evaluate and effectively use the needed information.

Information literacy also incorporates and supplements other forms of literacy such as:

  • Computer literacy
  • Media literacy
  • Research literacy

Information literacy can be applied in any subject or area of study.

why is information literacy important for our students
Why is information literacy important for our students?

True Story

Fourteeen year old: “I’m working on a history paper about how the Holocaust didn’t happen.”

Teacher, after long pause: “Zack, where did you hear that the Holocaust didn’t happen?”

“The Internet. It’s on a web page at Northwestern University.”

seeing is no longer believing
Seeing is no longer believing.

We need to help our students develop skills that help them validate information, whether text, images or audio.

how much do you know about information literacy
How much do YOU know about information literacy?

Take the information literacy quiz to see if you are:

Somewhat savvy (0-3 points)

Moderately savvy (6-8 points)

Downright Nerdy (10 points)

Each correct answer is worth 1 point.

Information Literacy Quiz from


Do you recognize the domain name in URL?

The domain name is found after the http://and www. To the first forward slash /.

For example in the URL, is the domain name.

2. What clues in a Web address might indicate you are on a personal web site?

Look for a tilde “~” or the “%” sign or a personal name “jdoe” or the word “user” after the domain name and the first forward slash “/”.

3. Why might you use quotation marks when conducting a search?

Use “quotation marks” to ensure your keywords appear in your search results in the order you have specified.


4. URL is an acronym for…

Uniform Resource Locator

5. Identify three Boolean search terms.

And, Or, Not

6. How do you find the owner or publisher of a web site?

Go to and enter the URL of the site you would like to research.


7. Identify threse extensions and what they represent:













School (outside the U.S.)

Most U.S. schools

Higher education in the U.S.

U.S. Government, add

Country code for outside


Higher education, not U.S.

Usually with a country code i.e.






8. How do you find out who is linked to our school’s website?

Go to Google and do a site: command search.

9. How do you find the history of any given website?

Use The Wayback Machine


10. How do sites get to the top of a result list in

One factor used to rank sites on Google is popularity.

The more links to a site, the higher the ranking.

what to look for when reading a url
What to look for when Reading a URL
  • Do you recognize the domain name?
  • What is the extension in the domain name?
  • Are you on a personal page?
http pubweb northwestern edu abutz di intro html

“Pubweb” means public web server.

This is a clue that this is a personal posting.

The name following

The ~ tells us this is a

Directory for abutz.

This is the intro

page of the site.

“” is the domain name.

The site is from Northwestern University.

“edu” is an extension for U.S. higher learning.

“di” refers to the

next subdirectory

or folder

The tilde is the second clue that

This is a personal posting. A

tilde indicates a personal directory.

Hyptertext Transfer Protocol

Is used to format and transmit data

over the web.


Country Codes

You can find a complete listing of country codes at:

examine the content
Examine the Content
  • Is the information on the website useful for your topic?
  • Are additional resources and links provided?
  • Is the site current? Do you know when it was last updated?
  • Do you think the information is accurate?
  • Does the information contradict information you have found elsewhere?
evaluate the content on these sites
Evaluate the content on these sites.

using google conduct a search for keyword martin luther king
Using Google, conduct a search for keyword: Martin Luther King

Look for

Where is it ranked in the

search results?

WARNING: Some of the websites we will be exploring contain offensive material.

ask about the author
Ask About The Author
  • Is the author’s name provided?
  • Is there a contact person or an address provided?
  • Is there biographical information provided about the author?
  • Does the author seem knowledgeable? Is he/she an expert in the field?
  • What kinds of results do you see when you do a search on the author’s name?
the wayback machine
The Wayback Machine

Look back at the history of the website.

See how it has changed, what has been

added and what has been deleted.

www easywhois com

Who owns the domain?

Who owns

look at the links
Look At The Links
  • What are the URLs of the forward links?
  • Are any of them links to academic sites?
  • Do the domain names change?
  • Are all the links by the same author?

Forward Links go from your page to another site. You control which sites

You link to.

Check for forward links at:


Back Links go from another site to your page.

You cannot control who links to your site.

Go to Google. Type in “site;”

to search for back links.

Who is linked to the website?

Why are they linked?

What do other sites say about the material on the site?


Choose ONE of these sites:

All About Explorers:

Victorian Robots:

Dog Island


Consider the following questions:

How can you apply R.E.A.L. techniques to vet out this site?


EXAMINE the content.


LOOK at the LINKS.

How do you think the website design contributes to each site’s

appearance of legitimacy?

Based on your experience with this site, what problems do

you think your students might have conducting Internet research?


For more information, go to