Developing Info-Seeking Fluency
after 15 years of Web experience, I’m pretty good at finding information on the Internet
using mainstream search engines
such as Google. But sorting through
the clutter of links can be a real challenge for inexperienced students.
How can you help your students
clear a path to relevant information?
I developed a framework that I call
the Info-Seeking Fluency Framework,
designed to develop students’ skills
for coming up with effective search
queries. It is also designed to embrace—
instead of ignore—the digital nature of
information today by taking advantage
of three major sources of online media:
Networked and social resources. These
are the connections and communications students may form with experts,
peers, and other “netizens” through social spaces, such as discussion forums,
social networks, and instant messaging.
Read/write/remix resources. These
include many Web 2.0 tools, such as
wikis, blogs, and video-sharing websites. These sites are responsible for
the abundance of information online.
They differ from the previous group
because they are categorized by media
format (document, page, video).
Traditional “trusted” resources. These
include paid-for resources, such as
online databases of journal articles
Let’s take a look at how to develop
fluent information seekers as outlined
in NETS for Students Standard 3. The
research methodologies that are typically taught in schools are focused
on research projects. Students might
start with research problems, develop
hypotheses, search for information,
and then formulate conclusions about
Infoseeking Fluency Framework
By John Hendron
what they have learned, citing the best
sources of information. That’s fine,
and the Info-Seeking Fluency Framework can help students succeed with
those types of rigorous projects.
But students today have access
to the Internet 24/7, which means
they crave access to all sorts of facts.
Whether it’s big-picture questions or
something more trivial, it all begins
with a blinking cursor in a search field.
I ask students to collect a lot of material—more than they would need to
answer simple questions—distill the
essence of that information, and label it
with their own keywords or tags. That
way, they are practicing the very skills
that will enable them to do higher-level inquires. Here’s the process:
1. Students make some guesses
about what to search for.
2. They conduct the search.
3. They click on the results and
briefly evaluate the source material. If it looks passable, they copy
it. If not, they leave it alone.
4. They paste the material (text or
pictures) into a “bucket.” Buckets
might be a blog post, a wiki page,
a spreadsheet, or a word processing document—anything digital.
5. Students record the precise location where their source material
came from: an MLA citation, a
Web URL, etc.
6. Students repeat the collection
process. It doesn’t matter if they
find similar information from
another webpage, article, or video.
Repeats are good.
At this point, students have harvested what they initially feel is credible