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Information Literacy: Teaching & Learning: Frame 3: Information Has Value


This frame reminds us that users, whether college students or not, start with the perception that information is “free” and lack understanding of how personal information is being commodified.The third frame – “Information has value” – addresses the complex values associated with information by introducing concepts of publishing and intellectual property. It speaks of information “as a commodity, as a means of education, as a means to influence, and as a means of negotiating and understanding the world. Legal and socioeconomic interests influence information production and dissemination.”

Information possesses several dimensions of value, including as a commodity, as a means of education, as a means to influence, and as a means of negotiating and understanding the world. Legal and socioeconomic interests influence information production and dissemination.

The value of information is manifested in various contexts, including publishing practices, information access, the commodification of personal information, and intellectual property laws. The novice learner may struggle to understand the diverse values of information in an environment where “free” information and related services are plentiful and the concept of intellectual property is first encountered through rules of citation or warnings about plagiarism and copyright law. As creators and users of information, experts understand their rights and responsibilities when participating in a community of scholarship. Experts understand that value may be wielded by powerful interests in ways that marginalize certain voices. However, value may be leveraged by individuals and organizations to effect change and may be leveraged for civic, economic, social, or personal gains. Experts also understand the individual is responsible for making deliberate and informed choices about when to comply with and when to contest current legal and socioeconomic practices concerning the value of information.

Objectives / Activities

Learners who are developing their information literate abilities

  • respect the original ideas of others;
  • value the skills, time, and effort needed to produce knowledge;
  • see themselves as contributors to the information marketplace rather than only consumers of it;
  • are inclined to examine their own information privilege.

Learners who are developing their information literate abilities

  • give credit to the original ideas of others through proper attribution and citation;
  • understand that intellectual property is a legal and social construct that varies by culture;
  • articulate the purpose and distinguishing characteristics of copyright, fair use, open access, and the public domain;
  • understand how and why some individuals or groups of individuals may be underrepresented or systematically marginalized within the systems that produce and disseminate information;
  • recognize issues of access or lack of access to information sources;
  • decide where and how their information is published;
  • understand how the commodification of their personal information and online interactions affects the information they receive and the information they produce or disseminate online;
  • make informed choices regarding their online actions in full awareness of issues related to privacy and the commodification of personal information.

Some possible learning objectives:

  • Student is willing to commit resources (time and/or $) to keeping current with research in their field of study.
  • Students will be able to apply the factors of fair use in order to determine the potential use of a copyrighted image in their work.
  • Students will be able to explain the value of citing sources in order to effectively use information sources in their writing.
  • Students will be able to evaluate a source using specific criteria in order to determine whether it meets their information need.
  • Students will be able to Identify why some groups/individuals may be underrepresented or systematically marginalized within the systems that produce and disseminate information
  • Identify scholarly publication practices and their related implications for access to scholarly information

1.  From Dr. Cindy McCullagh:

This New York Times article could be used as an example of how corporations or special interest groups control the release of information to support their own interests.  It could be used in WRIT 102 or in any environmentally themed course.

2. Time is money. Ask students to blog for a week about their life of information, noting their information needs and the associated costs of getting that information. What are the associated costs if they cannot find the information, and what are the cost benefits of getting the information? For example, if a student cannot find a FAFSA form in time, or how to complete it, or the details to provide within the form, they lose out on scholarships.

3.  Ask students to find several images that would enhance the project or paper on which they are working. Then ask them to determine which can be used without asking permission. What would they need to do to use this material?

4.  Assign students to read a timely article connected to information ethics in their field of study as a discussion starter.

5.  Ask students in professional or career-focused programs to consider what individuals or organizations make money distributing information relating to that profession or career. Have students discuss the usefulness and potential risks behind this information.

6.  Discern between the economic processes behind different types of information, e.g. newspaper articles vs. 24-hour TV news, edited academic volume vs. popular title on a top 10 list.

7.  Ask students to determine what information they can find about themselves or a relative online, and to assess whether steps should be taken to control this personal information.


Presentation from the 11/04/2015 "Engaging our Digital Natives" forum.

Creative Commons and Public Domain

Image Use: Finding Public Domain & Creative Commons Media

















Info-graphic retrieved from

It is not just text you need to consider when thinking about plagiarism and copyright.  Any illustrations including images, tables and charts, photographs and videos are also subject to copyright.  These items can be found on the web, in books, journals and all printed materials. 

Use the link below to learn where to find free images, audio content and video content on the web, and how to use this content without violating copyright.

Citation Guides

Assessment Ideas


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