In a world that’s full of fake news…

In a world that is full of fake news… how do we teach our students or even children about the dangers of this??

Luckily, as we are taking this Educational Technologies course we are being taught (at the ripe old age of 19+) how to spot and identify fake news from all around the web. Some of us even fell for fake news articles when presented with them in class – if we can fall for them then for sure the younger generation will. Luckily, there are also many resources (videos, articles and even lesson plans) in order to teach you and your students how to spot fake news in your own online world.

This article even gives you a title that directly connects to this: How do we teach students to identify fake news? This article even has a fact sheet that teachers could put on bulletin boards or share digitally with their classes that outlines:

  • Move beyond traditional – and often ineffective – information evaluation checklists (e.g. RADCAPCRAAP, and CARS), which fall short when applied to the sophisticated tools and techniques often used to create fake news.
  • Prioritize helping students develop investigative techniques where they become familiar with information verification websites (e.g. FactsCanorgSnopes, and Hoax Slayer) and tools like Google’s “search by image” feature or the resource. Students can also learn about professional fact checking strategies
  • Teach students to identify bias using tools like a media bias chart, which provides a starting point for them to understand that all sources come from a particular perspective.
  • Bring real-world fake news examples that we encounter everyday into the classroom so that students can be challenged to apply their skills and techniques to authentic situations

Articles like this one are able to give teachers direct ideas and examples in order to help teach their students about the dangers of the online world and solutions – like fact-checking websites. I think this could easily be connected to an ELA activity as students will have to critically read in order to identify an incorrect/fake article provided by the teacher. Digital literacy can be directly connected to even a science project – as there are many fake websites or fake news posted about animals or the world around us. If students don’t know they are fake they may include them within their project and share incorrect information. Such as this website here – this animal does not exist, but students could easily be lead to believe it is due to the “credible” looking presentation of its website. Websites like that often make me laugh. Here is even a lesson plan if you want to use the tree octopus example in your own classroom!

What is also important when teaching students about fake news and digital literacy is the connection to emotions and worldviews – as often the internet can shock and amaze our worldviews. This comic can help teach students about the backfire effect. The backfire effect is the tendency of some people to resist accepting evidence that conflicts with their beliefs. This is demonstrated when people presented with conflicting information become even more convinced of their original beliefs rather than questioning them (definition from here). This can be seen often on the internet when people get in arguments over topics that may be sensitive (such as the slavery teeth within the comic). New information may be scary but also may be lies because people refuse to believe the truth based on the backfire effect. Like the comic says “this [fake news] is compounded by the internet, where anything can be cited as a source and every disagreement degrades into a room full of orangutans throwing feces at one another”. It may be important to teach students to be open with their worldviews and not become a part of the feces throwing because:

Source: The Oatmeal

As a teacher you may be thinking – well jeez louise Serena I really want to teach my students to spot fake news and be great digital citizens! – I have got a solution for you. There are tons (and I mean tons) of online resources for teachers and parents alike to be able to teach their students about being effective digital citizens and not believing all this fake news.

This book, by Mike Caulfield for instance, has literally tons of ways for your students to spot sponsored content, know the history of viral videos/photos, verify if a twitter account is true, finding high-quality sources, how to find out when a page was published and so many more! Have I also mentioned that it’s free and online?! I highly recommend you go check it out!

There are also lesson plans. Quizzes. Games. Videos. And so much more out there waiting for it to be taught about. Just remember to keep an eye out for fake news while searching 😉

All of this connects to many curriculum outcomes and could become cross-curricular learning such as art project, arts ed projects, science or even English as I stated above. I would start teaching students this at a younger age because they start exploring the interweb so much younger then we did and it’s important to teach them to be good digital citizens and critical readers early on!

This all also connects to the NCTE Framework as the framework outlines:

  • Develop proficiency and fluency with the tools of technology;
  • Build intentional cross-cultural connections and relationships with others so to pose and solve problems collaboratively and strengthen independent thought;
  • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes;
  • Manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information;
  • Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multimedia texts;
  • Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments

Analyzing multimedia texts is just what students are doing when they are trying to identify a fake news website or information. Hopefully, after learning these skills they can be more proficient with the tools of technology. Making sure your students are not sharing incorrect or harmful information can also abide by the ethical responsibilities of these complex environments.

Let us go out there and teach our students and children how to be safe and productive on this ever-growing and changing world wide web!

Be safe and don’t share fake news!


One thought on “In a world that’s full of fake news…

Add yours

  1. Great post! I am very surprised at how little I was educated about fake news growing up, although lack of smartphones probably caused fake news to be spread as quickly. I also found the game and thought it was brilliant! I love the fact that there are different academic levels you can choose in order to get appropriate news articles for the level of students.

    Liked by 1 person

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