What is it Like to be a College Student in the Digital Age?
Alison Head, Executive Director, Project Information Literacy
Since 2008, as part of our ongoing national study at Project Information Literacy (PIL), we have surveyed more than 11,000 students at over 41 colleges and universities in the U.S. We have investigated how college students say they find information and conduct research — their needs, strategies, and workarounds — for solving information problems that occur during course-related research and in their everyday lives. We have found the large majority of students we have studied across all types of higher-education institutions still attend college to learn, but many are lost in a thicket of information overload. They struggle with managing the IT devices that permeate their lives. Our findings indicate that nearly all students intentionally use a small compass for navigating the ever-widening and complex information landscape they inhabit. Alison Head, PIL's founding director, discusses key-takeaways from the PIL studies and their implications for teaching, learning, work, and community in the 21st century. Alison J. Head, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of Project Information Literacy (PIL), an ongoing research study in the U.S. She is also a Fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society and the Harvard Library's Innovation Lab. Alison has a Ph.D. and MLS from U.C. Berkeley's Information School and was a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University. Her research interests include information-seeking behaviors of early adults, information literacy and lifelong learning, Web adoption and diffusion, and usage of social media for collaborative learning.