Information Literacy in Politically Polarized Times

Dates: October 28 – November 24

Duration: 4 weeks
Credits: 1.5 CEUs
Price: US $175

In Brief: At a time of political polarization, when digital environments lend themselves to the spread of misinformation, information silos, and echo chambers that can exacerbate social divisions, many educators are pointing to information literacy education as a way to foster more critical engagement with information and ultimately a more informed and civically engaged society. This course is one opening for librarians and fellow educators to reflect together on the role information literacy education in polarized moments.  Participants consider the strengths and limitations of our current pedagogical practices, explore new possibilities for our instructional work, and develop an instruction plan that they can apply to their teaching practice.


At a time of political polarization, when digital environments lend themselves to the spread of misinformation, information silos, and echo chambers that can exacerbate social divisions, many educators are pointing to information literacy education as a way to foster more critical engagement with information and ultimately a more informed and civically engaged society. While most agree on the importance of  teaching information literacy, what that pedagogy looks like is a more difficult question. As Mike Caulfield wrote in “Yes, Digital Literacy, but Which One?,” while information literacy needs more attention, “we can’t do it the way we have done it up to now.” Similarly, dana boyd has asserted in “Did Media Literacy Backfire?” that quick fixes (for example, more fact-checking and identification of misleading sources) will not address the more systemic and underlying issues at hand.

At the same time that Caulfield and boyd encourage new ways of thinking, we can also learn from the extensive and valuable work in fields like media literacy, information studies, education, cognitive psychology, and sociology. This course is one opening for librarians and fellow educators to reflect together on the role information literacy education in polarized moments, as we also explore research and teaching approaches from such disciplines. Participants will consider the strengths and limitations of our current pedagogical practices, will explore new possibilities for our instructional work, and will develop an instruction plan that they can apply to their teaching practice.

Course Structure

  • Week 1: Beyond “Standard” Approaches to Information Literacy
  • Week 2: Research on Social Identity, Beliefs, and Information Behaviors
  • Week 3: Exploring Instruction Ideas
  • Week 4: Putting Ideas into Action

Learning Outcomes

In this four-week interactive online workshop participants will:

  • Reflect on current socio-political and socio-technical environments and their implications for information literacy education (e.g., political polarization, the online spread of misinformation, information silos and echo chambers,
    motivated reasoning, efforts to strengthen civic dialogue and engagement).
  • Become familiar with research on the relationship between social identity, beliefs, and information behaviors and consider its implications for information literacy education.
  • Examine various pedagogical responses to related information literacy skills (e.g., source evaluation, online reading strategies, debiasing).
  • Develop an instruction activity that encourages more critical engagement with information and that addresses a pedagogical concern related to the current sociopolitical climate.

Registration Information

Participants may register up through the first week of a course. Please email abaer at inquiringteachers dot com with the registrant name(s), email address(es), and the course in which they wish to enroll.

Within one business day you will receive a registration confirmation and payment information. Payments can be made with personal or institutional credit cards or PayPal. If your institution prefers to receive a billing statement or to make purchase order, please indicate this in your email message.

About Inquiring Teachers Courses

Baer_2018In a small online community participants learn about pedagogical theories and practices relevant to information literacy education, while also developing an instruction plan for their unique teaching contexts. Throughout these courses participants provide one another with feedback and receive individualized feedback from the instructor.

This professional development is unique in its emphasis on reflection and community and in its integration of learning research, accessible theory, and everyday teaching practice. To foster this environment, classes are small (no more than 15 people) and all participants are given ongoing personalized and detailed feedback. All courses are facilitated by educator and instruction librarian Andrea Baer, Ph.D.

(All Inquiring Teachers courses count as electives for the Certificate in Library Instruction from Library Juice Academy.)

Privacy Information

Courses are taught through the digital platform MoodleCloud. When registrants first log in to MoodleCloud, they are required to accept the site’s Privacy Policy and Cookies Policy in order to use the site. When a registrant is enrolled in a course, their name and email are added to the course’s MoodleCloud site. Inquiring Teachers does not share any additional user information with MoodleCloud.