Information Literacy!

1. Can we define what it means to be information literate?

I believe that we can define what it means to be information literate. Using resourceful tools and techniques along with looking into the credibility of information, and being skeptical of what you read/hear is being information literate. Just don’t blindly accept information and be active when it comes to finding sources and double checking correctness of information

2.  Can we teach our students to have the skills essential to information literacy?

Of course we can! I think that in order to equip students with the necessary skills it takes to be information literate, we need to incorporate them at a younger age. As soon as students are going to be using the internet for a search engine and a primary source of information, they should have the knowledge to know and decipher what is true and what is just ‘mumbo-jumbo’ people throw on the internet. Also, one lesson on it isn’t going to have every student using the right techniques to have information literacy. This should be taught not only at an early age, but in every grade/subject where necessary.

3. Can we truly prepare students to be effective users of the most powerful medium?

We can certainly prepare our students to use the internet effectively with reliable search and answer engines, and teach them to look at the authors credibility, etc. However, equipping them with the necessary tools to do so does not guarantee that they will… Still, as a future educator and a student, I believe it is necessary to do our best to teach students how to be information literate.

Look at this paper I’ve written about Clickers in The Classroom!


Clickers in the Classroom:

Samantha Otis

Western Oregon University




The purpose of this paper is to define the term “classroom response system”, otherwise referred to as clickers. It will begin with the attributes of a classroom response system, the inspiration for it, and suppositions that evoke controversial discussion. This paper will then display supporting and opposing arguments about the actual use of this newly introduced educational trend. The intent is to exhibit background knowledge of clickers while also conveying their new status in educational learning. The goal is to incite questions that will potentially bring about conversation and the more frequent facilitation of classroom response systems in schools.

Clickers in the Classroom:


An alarming 85% of students are afraid to raise their hand or speak up in the classroom, according to a study recently conducted by Chris Murman. The increasing popularity of clickers has led to an improvement in classroom performance and is capable of involving disengaged students in everyday classroom activities. Not only do classroom response systems drastically increase student participation, they provide an easier and more effective way for teachers to keep their students involved and interested. In order to form an opinion on the use of clickers, there are many things that must be explained and understood: defining classroom response systems, the inspirations and theories behind it, and opinions and arguments coming from all sides of the spectrum.

Defining Classroom Response Systems

Classroom response systems -clickers- are instructional and interactive technologies that enable teachers to collect and analyze information immediately in the classroom. This newly found and very effective technology completely transforms the way class time is utilized. Instructors can incorporate a variety of classroom activities to dramatically change the dynamic in the classroom. Taking attendance, administering in-class quizzes, homework collection, and warm-up questions are just a few of the straightforward uses of this technology. Other very effective uses include contingent teaching, peer instruction, and question-driven instruction.

An active learning approach

“Contingent teaching”, sometimes referred to as “agile teaching”, is a resourceful method used to argue what students do and do not understand during class. Instructors can use the results of the clicker questions to change the course of their lessons “on the fly”. For instance, if the results show that most of the students understand a concept, then the instructor can move on. However, if the results indicate that many students answered ae confused, then the teacher can spend more time on that topic, whether it be via lecture, class discussion, or even implement another clicker question (Beatty, Grace, Lenard and Dufrense 2006).

In “Peer Instruction”, a strategy popularized by Harvard University Physics Professor Eric Mazer (1997), the teacher poses a question, students answer it individually, and a chart showing their responses is displayed. If a significant number of students chose the wrong answer, they are asked to discuss the question with those sitting nearby. After a few minutes of discussing, the students resubmit their answers. Often, but not always, students converge on the correct answer as a result of peer instruction.

What is driving it?

Clickers promote active participation, engagement, and discussion among all students –even those who might not participate in typical classroom discussions. Clickers are assessment tools that can provide motivational feedback to students about their own learning. Its theorized that individuality in the classroom will spark self-confidence and motivation in the students. Many schools and professors support the classroom response system because it creates a safe space for shy and unsure students to participate in class. Another benefit of clickers over traditional active learning methods is that they can follow the principles of game based learning. Since students of the 21st century have grown up using computer games for learning and entertainment, they may respond better to class activities and take in more information because they aren’t bored in class.

The Pros & Supporting Arguments

According to Derek Bruff, author of “Teaching with Classroom Response Systems”, clickers promote active student engagement and collaboration during class. Clickers enable a safe space for students to provide input without fear of public humiliation, and the anonymity of responding with a clicker guarantees near or total participation.

Margaret A Martyn is also a firm supporter of classroom response systems. She claims that, “Clickers help instructors actively engage during the class period, gauge the students’ level of understanding of the material, and provide prompt feedback to student questions”. In her education based blog, she describes the benefits of active learning and ways that teachers can engage their students with clickers. Martyn also collected research and survey data that showed students perceive the value in the use of clickers and would recommend their use in future classes.

The Cons & Opposing Arguments

Contrary to expectations, learning outcomes of students using clickers did not improve more than the traditional approach of class discussion. While the newly found methods of classroom response systems are effective, they aren’t any more effective test score wise than other recent methods. Getting started with clickers may take some time, and writing effective multiple choice questions might be a struggle to teachers. Technical problems can always arise, so non-technical activities should always be planned in the event of a difficulty. One of the main problems with classroom response systems is the fact that knowing students have misconceptions does not necessarily reveal what those misconceptions are. Another concern with the clicker method, just like anything else, is cheating. A student may try to give his clicker to a fellow classmate in order to skip class or cheat on assessments. At the beginning of the term, the teacher will have to go over a strict no-cheating policy and possibly even have students sign behavior contracts, and if misbehaving occurs it should result in consequences.

Personal Analysis

The viewpoint I hold on clickers is a positive one. I believe that, if carried out correctly, classroom response systems are an active and inclusive way to get students to participate in class. From my perspective, more students will actually want to be engaged in class and the majority of them will retain the information better if they also participated in class activities, instead of watching from the back of the classroom. I feel that a good combination of lecture based teaching, clicker questions, and game based learning will lead to success in the classroom.

Since I am a student of the 21st century and I’ve witnessed younger children in the classroom setting, I have strong faith in game and electronic based learning. Technology is almost like a sixth sense to most students these days, and if the information is relatable as well as interesting, they will learn a lot more using clickers as opposed to listening to a teacher talk the entire class period. I also strongly agree with the methods of Peer Instruction. Students are not only more likely to listen to the opinions of fellow classmates, but they learn more and think critically about questions and information if they know it will be discussed aloud with others. Peer Instruction also provides a sometimes needed break from a lecturing teacher, and lets children take the opportunity to build quality skills such as communication of their thoughts, forming their own opinions, and working with others towards a particular goal or answer.


While Classroom Response Systems may seem to have a few minor flaws, it’s almost obvious that the benefits outweigh the oppositions. New technology is constantly being integrated in the classroom setting, and this new active learning approach promotes student engagement, participation, and collaboration. It is an efficient way for the instructor to quickly find out what students are lacking to understand, and what is getting across to them. With the right use of this technology, and student participation, classroom response system bring added value to learning as well and teaching. Clickers have the capability to change aspects of education altogether.


(Derek Bruff, 2015). Classroom Response Systems (“Clickers”).

(Derek Bruff, 2015). Clickers and Classroom Dynamics

(Iowa State University, 2015). Clickers for Learning and Teaching

Margaret A. Martyn.(2007, January, 1). Clickers in the Classroom: An Active Learning Approach

Issues of Digital Critical Thinking

         In recent discussions of digital literacy, a controversial issue has been whether or not students can believe what’s on the internet.  On the one hand, some argue that there are plenty of factual sources online to collect information from.  From this perspective, sources such as college websites and official research journals are accessible.  On the other hand, however, others argue that you can’t believe what you read on the internet. Too often opinion is stated or taken as fact.  According to this view, the popular internet sources and information sites, such as Wikipedia, can’t be trusted to gather factual information.  In sum then, the issue is whether the internet is a viable research tool or if other sources such as books and magazines are the way to go.

          My own view is that there are factual and official sources on the internet.  Though I concede that there is plenty of false information and opinion based work out there, I still maintain that if you back up your research and facts with multiple sources and make sure that it is factual, using the internet is a useful too.  For example, actual research and studies conducted by Colleges and Professors on official websites with data and information about the author are legitimate sources to use.   Although some might object that nothing on the internet can be trusted, I would reply that you just have to be smart in the way that you find and prove your information.  The issue is important because many students are writing papers and mistaking opinion for fact, and not actually learning about their topics, and many more research error related issues.

McCain talks about this issue, and also posted a Quick Guide to 21st Century Critical Thinking Skills for Educators.

21st Century Learning

Education in the 21st century is so drastically different than it was ten years ago that it’s almost ridiculous to think about. I believe that every 21st century classroom has room for technology. Integrating old methods of teaching with new technologies and even some new methods is a great environment for a classroom. I feel that the typical high school classroom should have a smart board, and either iPads or Chrome Books on a 1-1 ratio. In a high school World Cultures class, for instance: iPads can be utilized to benefit students and the classroom experience in many ways. They can be used to look at interactive maps, or even to create maps yourself. Virtual tours are something that not very many History and World Cultures teachers integrate in their curriculum, but I feel that they can be extremely beneficial to the learning experience. Skype calls and interviews with people from other countries and in other cultures is a very interesting and exciting way to learn, and it’s a way for students to ask questions of their own that they may have. Learning things in unique ways makes things much easier to retain.

Check out this video where a high school class Skype’s with someone from China.