BISBuzz Digital Citizenship Enquiry

Part 2. Information Overload

Enquiry: Digital Information Literacy

The emergence of the internet has presented us with boundless quantities of information. One of the major challenges for any learner is how to cope with the quantity and quality in order to harness the power of the internet, to enrich understanding and build knowledge.

Information explosion is not new

Concerns about the scale of this challenge are not new and predate the internet. Back in the 1st Century AD Seneca the Elder is attributed to saying with reference to their sources of information “the abundance of books is a distraction”. More recently and following the invention of the 15th century invention of the Gutenberg press there was widespread concern from scholars of the difficulty in managing all this new information.

"Getting information from the Internet is like drinking from a fire hydrant"

Mitchell Kapoor

It is easy for us to appreciate how this surge in available information, deemed ubiquitous for its time,

supported our pursuit of knowledge and understanding and enriched our existence. We adapted the way we managed information and this ultimately became a profound catalyst for the knowledge explosion we now benefit from.

Internet - the next evolution and how to manage it

It is possible to view the internet as the next evolution of this knowledge explosion, the concerns are the same; volume, and quality. It is the management of these that has become one of the primary concerns for education in the 21st Century.

Our increased provision of learning technologies and consequent improved connectivity allows us to nurture students’ natural desire to enquire. In turn, it opens up classrooms to the expertise beyond their physical walls. However, we remain conscious that this places increased demands on the skills necessary to source, assimilate and synthesise new knowledge.

Our six stage process

At BIS we employ a 6 stage process for information literacy education. This categorises and sequences the information literacy process. We remain conscious that the internet is a resource but at the heart of this process is the student and a question or focus of research.


What am I being asked to do and what do I need to complete that? What do I already know?


Where do I find the info? How can I speed my research up?


Why is some information better than others? Which is best for my project?


How do I form an argument? How do I record & store information so I don’t lose it?


How do I best use all this information? How do I use other peoples’ ideas so it’s not just copying?


How do I give & get good feedback? How do I get better at this whole process?

The 6 stage process above and the detailed indicators below are based on several sources, including: The Big 6 by Alan November, CILIP’s school library guidelines, ALA’s IL standards for student learning, IFLA’s Guidelines for IL Primary & secondary for lifelong learning, ITSE’s NETS & Performance indicators for students, UNESCO’s Towards information literacy indicators.

Beyond Wikipedia

Increased access inside school allows us to direct students beyond Wikipedia, encouraging them to consider the validity and variety of their sources, to question biases and any misinformation that may be present. Online tools such as mindmapping or social bookmarkers allow students to organise their ideas, sources and research in such a way that supports a clarity of presentation and allows them to act with integrity and academic honesty. This coupled with ready access to technology facilitates the use of rich media such as video, audio or mixed media presentation to communicate their findings and demonstrate their understanding.

The increased provision of learning technologies significantly improves our ability to ensure that our students are powerful enquirers, equal to the challenge of harnessing the wealth of information available, able to source, assimilate, synthesise and present new knowledge as powerful learners.

Next: Learning technologies to support learning together