Students' perceptions of personalized filters on their own information literacy skills

McDermott, Geraldine (2015) Students' perceptions of personalized filters on their own information literacy skills. In: EdTech 2015: Beyond the Horizon: Policy, Practice and Possibilities, UL.


This study investigates students’ perceptions of online personalized filters, focusing on what they know and how they feel about them.In 2005 Google pioneered personalized searches for its signed-in users, informing them that it would be able to provide more relevant search results, as their users’ search history grew. This was to significantly improve the user experience by presenting the right information to the right user at the right time (Speretta & Gauch, 2004). However, there were many privacy concerns around personalization, with the focus primarily on the storage of user data. Subsequently, individuals such as Internet activist Eli Pariser (2011) also voiced concerns about the dangers associated with personalized filters, referring to the creation of a “unique universe of information” for each user, where ideological beliefs would go unchallenged, leading to confirmation bias.The study adopted a phenomenographic research approach to identify the qualitatively different ways students in one Higher Education institute experience personalized filters in their online searches. The students were chosen from a technology programme and a social care programme so as to provide contrast, and semi-structured interviews formed the basis for data collection.This paper will present findings that show students perceive personalized filters differently in different circumstances. Firstly, the study discovered that students are okay with the use of personalized filters in simple online searches to find basic information or entertainment. However, for more complex ideas or information, students felt that personalized filters presented too narrow a viewpoint and required them to adopt more nuanced or sophisticated search strategies.Based on these results, this small-scale study seeks to offer strategies for improving students’ information literacy skills.

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