Taking the Show on the Road: Teaching Web Literacy Concepts to Librarians in Hudson Valley

Photo credit: SENYLRC

Last week I had an opportunity to facilitate a workshop on web literacy at Southeastern New York Library Resources Council (SENYLRC).

Working with Carolyn, SENYLRC’s Education and Outreach Manager, it became clear that veracity of online information — a hot topic these days — was the optimal focus for this training. Fortunately, “evaluate” is one of the core 14 skills in Mozilla’s web literacy framework, and so I was able to rely on my experience with the Mozilla IMLS Web Literacy for Library Staff pilot project when planning this workshop.

My goal as a facilitator was to demonstrate activities that can be incorporated into the information literacy training librarians are already expert in delivering. I brought along three activities I’ve facilitated in the past — one that comes straight out of Mozilla’s suite of activities and two that I’ve created or adapted on my own.

Kraken the Code

From Mozilla’s playbook, Kraken the Code offers learners a framework for determining the truthfulness of online information. Participants are asked to search online for articles related to the Kraken, a mystical sea creature, and evaluate the sources they find with a beautifully-designed worksheet.

Two Truths & Some Fake News

This activity was developed for a workshop I planned and co-facilitated at Brooklyn Public Library. With the popular childhood game “two truths and a lie” in mind, my co-facilitator and I created several sets of three slides wherein we presented three headlines, only one of which was truthful. We focused on demonstrating the many clues one can use for making this type of determination, and this activity provided a great bridge into discussing how exactly one might determine when an article is less than factual.

Build Your Own Algorithm

After a bit of a presentation comparing algorithms to every day activities like knitting and cooking, the Build Your Own Algorithm activity asks participants to quietly create a list of steps they would take when doing an activity in which they are an expert. Participants then team up with a partner, who makes suggestions on how they’d tweak this list. For bonus points, participants can point out the inputs and the outputs of their particular algorithm.

After running through these activities, I wrapped the session by analyzing the elements each of these activities has in common, and by talking a little bit about game theory. Participants were then organized into small groups to spend some time creating their own activities (they also had the option of remixing one of the three they’d experienced earlier in the workshop). I knew this workshop had gone well when each group explained their activity; the ingenuity and thoughtfulness each group showed for having fun while teaching these critical concepts was wonderful to see.