Information literacy scavenger hunt and plagiarism

One of the best things about working here in the summer is that the pace is much slower, which allows me to do more fiddling with projects that I may not have had a chance to work on during the academic year. Today I worked with an instructor to build together an info lit/intro the library scavenger hunt that he will be using for his fall classes (EN 098/CLS 100). As we worked, we fine tuned what he wanted to become more of an intro to the library then a true information literacy hunt. Since this particular prof didn’t want actual information literacy but more on how to use the library and what library services were available, this changed our plan of attack.

While searching to see what other libraries were doing, I found the following:

There a couple of things that came to mind as I searched:

  • Scavenger hunts for college age students were almost exclusively geared for mobile use (namely smartphones that had barcode/QR code readers on them), which keeps perpetuating that the digital age prefers this method of learning then to physical objects. This despite what Pew data that less then 50% of American adults over 18 own a smartphone.
  • Many of the scavenger hunt/get to know the library games (regardless of age appropriateness) were almost all online.
  • The theme seemed to be that many of the games were almost identical to the other, which lead one to ask, “Where did the game originate from?”

When I asked the question of the later to the prof I was working with, he informed me that in teaching it’s considered accepted, even encouraged, to appropriate ideas from one program to another because it’s (essentially) for the greater good. This not only means ideas and concepts, but also handouts/worksheets/homework assignments where a nod to the source is almost always removed or forgotten. I will not tell a lie: This bit of information blew my mind.

As a librarian, and an educator, I teach plagiarism, in any form, is bad and that the consequences are and can be tremendous. So why are there educators otu there thinking that because it’s for the great good, plagiarism is totally okay? What kind of message are we sending to our students?