S.O.S. for Information Literacy is a dynamic web-based multimedia resource for educators that promises to make a significant contribution to enhancing the teaching of information literacy skills to students in K-16. The project is currently in its final stage of development in which S.O.S. is being expanded for use by high school and college level educators. At no time in history has the ability to locate, organize, evaluate, manage and use information been more critical for today's learners. These skills, collectively referred to as information literacy, lay the groundwork for success in every phase of a student's life both in and out of school. Preliminary research for this project was made possible through a Small Business Innovation Research award from the U.S. Department of Education. Funding for full development and implementation has been made possible by National Leadership Grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
If you would like even more information on the development of the S.O.S. for Information Literacy project, please read on. . .
Phase I Research
The Phase I research results overwhelmingly supported the need for, viability and innovativeness of S.O.S for Information Literacy for improving the teaching of information skills. This research included surveys with practitioners and leaders, a focus group of potential users, and a progressive feedback panel. The research also laid the groundwork for the development of a quality control program to insure that only high caliber materials will be included in the S.O.S. tool. System feedback mechanisms, direct user input, and an evaluation team also comprise the program.
Information Literacy in Context
Educators cannot find enough lesson plans or motivating instructional techniques in the general education databases that specifically address information literacy skills in the context of classroom assignments and research projects, thereby increasing the relevance of learning such skills. S.O.S. for Information Literacy will accomplish that and much more by linking lesson plans and teaching ideas to related real-world multimedia examples of excellence in teaching, especially focusing on collaborative efforts between classroom teachers and library media specialists in K-12.
The Transition from High School to College
Focus groups with academic librarians have stressed that the transition from high school to college studies is important in terms of addressing the information literacy needs of students. As one member of a focus group stated, " . . . high school seniors are our freshman." Hopefully, high school and college librarians will contribute ideas and lesson plans to the S.O.S. for Information Literacy project that will help in creating a bridge.
K-12: Educators can also search by the Standards for the 21st Century Learner and related indicators established by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). There is currently no information system available to the targeted audience that accomplishes the goals of S.O.S. for Information Literacy.
College Level: Instructors will be able to search materials by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Standards as well as content area standards.
The development of media submission software accessible from the S.O.S. site enables educators to upload digital photos and multimedia support materials that help illustrate their lesson plans and ideas. A new feature, buILder (stands for Information Literacy Builder), will allow users to translate lesson plans into actual online lessons for their students. That is, instructors will be able to actually build an online lesson with menus, links, and of course, the research challenge. BuILder is continuing to be tested. To see an example of a buILder, click HERE.
In addition, video clips featuring educators in action or reflecting on successful teaching episodes are continuously being assembled and reviewed by members of the target audience. Their response has been enthusiastic and includes comments like the following: It is always valuable to hear from colleagues. When I see the enthusiasm of the person in the video, it makes me more likely to try their strategy. The videos are a valuable part of S.O.S.
How did S.O.S. get the name?
The S.O.S in the title of the project does represent a call to action to enhance information literacy instruction. It also refers to the job that IL instructors must accomplish in preparing IL instruction. That is, they must consider the specific Situation (e.g., grade level, curricula area for integrating IL instruction, etc.), the desired Outcome(s) (e.g., information skill(s) to be learned), and what Strategies (e.g., teaching ideas or specific techniques and methods) they need to include in their instruction in order to achieve the desired outcome. Using the S.O.S. system, an educator can input the situation and desired outcomes, and the S.O.S system will suggest possible motivational teaching strategies in the form of lesson plans, teaching ideas (many with actual teaching materials included), and buILders!