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PIL Provocations: Reading in the Age of Distrust

The CILIP Information Literacy Group (ILG) and the LILAC Conference are delighted to have been enlisted as Champions of an exciting new Project Information Literacy initiative, “The PIL Provocation Series”.

I am delighted to share the latest essay in the PIL Provocation Series: “Reading in the Age of Distrust.”

In this timely essay, Alison Head, the Director of Project Information Literacy (PIL) asks: “Are educators equipping students with the critical reading skills they need for today? Most educators believe reading is an investment in learning, not only for success in school, but for functioning well in the workplace. But what many academicians fail to consider is how students read. At a time when the world is deeply divided over the veracity of news, information, and even scientific fact, students can easily get confused about what to read and believe, and what to avoid, when they are lost in a wilderness of propaganda, cynical clickbait, and slickly packaged misinformation.

Alison draws on PIL study and related research, to argue that college reading needs a reset. Educators must make the invisible activity of reading more visible. Students need to be taught how to be skillful, discerning readers who can engage actively with texts and better understand the source of information and how it is being disseminated at warp speed across a vast universe of connected networks. For today’s students, these critical reading skills are urgently needed in a high-speed and chaotic world where information is a free-for-all and even the smartest people can get fooled.

Building on a solid decade of original research into students’ information practices in the digital age, each essay makes an argument grounded in research, posing a question for the future: What haven’t we considered as the information landscape grows more complex? What new directions in information literacy and higher education should we be exploring? What fundamental aspects of student experiences with navigating information spaces have we overlooked?

As with all PIL publications, the essays in this series are open access to encourage sharing and discussion. Ultimately, the goal is to improve teaching and learning while suggesting new avenues for inquiry and experimentation.

Alison J. Head, Ph.D.

Founder and Director | Project Information Literacy (PIL)

Visit the Project Information Literacy website for further information, or contact Alison Head, Director, Project Information Literacy,

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