I’m in Auckland this week, attending both the ULearn05 conference at the Sky City convention centre, and the School Libraries Association of NZ Aotearoa (SLANZA) .
In this morning’s keynote at the SLANZA conference I was invited to speak about digital literacies. This was a pretty daunting task, given that this group represented some of the most informed and influencial people we have in NZ working in the field of information services and information literacy.
However, the group were in a good mood, having just been informed of the government’s announcement to provide free access for all schools to the The on-line School Cataloguing Information Service (SCIS) for a period of two years.
In my talk I focused on student use of digital technologies, and how this is re-shaping the way young people are engaging in learning tasks, how they are forming and sustaining learning communities, and how they are enabling students to become developers and producers of learning content, not just consumers of it.
One part of the talk generated a lot of heated discussion – when I referred to Wikipedia as an example of the community use of a Wiki, there were some strong feelings expressed about the reliability and authenticity of the information that appears on this site. One delegate reported how her son had deliberately put up an incorrect definition for a term, and that noone had responded or corrected it. This led to a lively debate around how we can respond to this sort of thing as we look forward – whether we wage war agains the use of such things as Wikipedia based on the fact that they contain incorrect information – or whether we put our efforts into empowering learners to participate intelligently in the communities that use these resources, emphasising the development of critical thinking skills as a way of personally determining the integrity and authenticity of what they are reading.