Saturday, May 16, 2009

(Visual) Information Literacy

Todd Gilman, the librarian for literature in English at Yale University's Sterling Memorial Library, recently wrote an article for the Chronicle which highlights an important misconception about students' abilities to use technology effectively in research. It is too easy to assume that students who were raised with technology are able to use these tools efficiently without training. A 2008 study on the so-called "Google Generation," commissioned by the British Library and JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee), supports Gilman's position: it found that, "although young people demonstrate an apparent ease and familiarity with computers, they rely heavily on search engines, view rather than read and do not possess the critical and analytical skills to assess the information that they find on the web."

Gilman notes the difference between computer-literate and research-literate, and offers tips to faculty members on helping their students enhance their research skills. These include working with librarians to devote a class period to search strategies, taking a tour of the library, and incorporating research skills into assignments.

As with text-based resources, the most effective methods for finding and using the best image resources for research and learning are not always self-evident. Google Images can be a handy tool among a range of options, but many valuable resources are invisible to standard search engines, hidden in the deep Web. Even when students are aware of resources such as ARTstor or the CU Digital Library, they often do not know about the most effective ways to use them. The VRC is happy to help CU Art and Art History students with these resources and skills. We offer on-site VRC orientations; virtual VRC orientations in the classroom; a Web page with an index of selected image resources; and one-on-one training with students and faculty members in image research, image scanning, and image presentation software. Please let us know how we can help you and your students!

Image: by l2oot, from stock.xchng

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