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Information Literacy Toolkit

Lesson plans and conversation prompts for learning about the ARCL Framework

Purpose

Only have a few minutes at the start of class to talk about information literacy? This section of the guide contains short prompts to get your class thinking critically about information. Share any of these prompts before or during class to start the conversation. 

I Know Where your Cat Lives

The website Iknowwhereyourcatlives.com allows you to explore images of random cats from around the world, pulled from social media. This would be adorable if it didn't also highlight the ease with which personal data can be accessed online. The site creators state that one reason for their project has been to show how "the status quo of personal data usage is exploited by startups and international mega-corporations."

Discussion questions:

  • Where do all of these cat pictures come from?
  • What is alarming about this data set?
  • How do mega-corporations exploit personal data? Why?

This could lead to a discussion about how library values differ from corporate values.

Factitious

Think you call tell the truth from lies? Test your knowledge of fake news with this game, Factitious. Click and choose quick start to start playing.

Tips on spotting fake news: from the game creators,  RULA, and The Learning Centre.

Corporate Influence on Scholarly Research: Nancy Olivieri

How does the corporate funding of academic research affect outcomes? Consider the case of Nancy Olivieri. 

The case of University of Toronto clinician, Dr. Nancy Olivieri, gained international attention when her research at the Hospital for Sick Children in the late 1990s led her to believe that a new drug treatment posed dangers to some patients. It was alleged that the hospital and the university failed to come to her defence when Apotex, co-sponsor of the research, objected to her publishing her findings. - CAUT Summary

Resources: 

Chiose, S. (2015, Nov 14). Brains versus the benefactors. The Globe and Mail. 
This is a news article about corporate sponsorship of research. The issue is much larger than just Olivieri's case.

Wikipedia summary
This article is useful for a quick overview of the events. 

The Olivieri Case: She Said, They Said...
This nuanced blog post from Hooked examines conflicting sources, concluding that we may not know the truth.  

CAUT Report
This list of resources about the Olivieri case includes the official report written by CAUT, the advocacy group the Canadian Association of University Teachers.

Peer-Reviewed Sources and Vaccine Reporting

This TED-Ed customizable lesson covers how fake news can spread, including articles that have been peer-reviewed in reputable journals. 

Peer-review, or review by a panel of experts prior to publication, is an established method in scholarly communication for keeping information standards high.

  • What are some of its flaws?
  • What are some of its strengths?

During Research Under the Influence of Fear

Facts can shift based on contextual information, as they do in this story about immigration. 

This American Life podcast episode 621: Fear and Loathing in Homer and Rockville (Prologue and Act 1, Fear)

Two towns where people got really upset about undocumented immigrants, even though in both places, that did not seem to be the most important thing happening at all. One of the towns, a small town in Alaska, has no undocumented immigrants at all, but the possibility of them arriving put the whole town at each other’s throats.

Questions:

  • What kind of researcher is Ben?
  • How does Ben's understanding of immigration change over time?
  • What factor's influenced his early selection of sources?
  • What conclusions does Ben come to?

This Is Why Eating Healthy Is Hard (Time Travel Dietician)

Consider what this video is saying about nutrition information.

Questions

  • Why is studying nutrition information difficult?
  • Why is sharing this information difficult?
  • Do you think we know more about nutrition now than we did in 1979?
  • What other topics like nutrition can you think of that have evolved over time?

Hypatia Controversy

Image credit: CNN. Rachel Dolezal Family photo / Eastern Washington University

Hypatia, an academic, peer-reviewed feminist philosophy journal, published an article in March 2017 where the author drew comparisons between being transgender and transracialism, describing how arguments for the first can also be used to support arguments for the second. She used the controversial figure of Rachel Dolezal as a starting point for her explanation.

The backlash to this article was extreme, as described in this New York Magazine article and the Wikipedia entry. Academics and philosophers denounced it, attacking the author and calling for its retraction.  

This is an example of what we could call a scholarly conversation gone awry. Scholarly conversations are the collective conversations that take place in academia – in hallways, publications, and conferences – about a topic. They can take place over many years and include many voices. For example, think of how academic conversations about gender and sexuality have developed and changed over the last 100, 50, or 20 years.

Questions:

  • Why was the author of the Hypatia article attacked?
  • When should peer-reviewed articles be retracted?
  • How should a controversial and upsetting subject, such as transracialism, be handled in academia?