Category Archives: Social Media

How to be Digitally Literate in an Era of Fake News

Courtesy of PEW Research

Courtesy of PEW Research

America just completed an especially volatile and polarizing Presidential election. This was the first major election where both sides waged war not simply using traditional means (pounding the pavement, call centers, and mailers), but using online digital tools. On Facebook and Twitter, stories were shared, hashtags were created, and mud-slinging took on new levels. New research from PEW suggests that most American adults now consume news via Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit being the most popular). Television news (both local and national) is still the most prominent source of news, but it is quickly giving way to the internet of things.

This in and of itself is not inherently bad. I have given up my print subscription to various news and magazines sites in favor of their digital platforms. This fits with my desire to have the most up to date news, travel-friendly options, and to keep a lower eco footprint. However, what has sprung up and been the topic of much debate is the prevalence of fake news, especially on social media platforms such as Facebook.

The Guardian and Buzzfeed News have both posted investigative articles highlighting the proliferation of fake news websites and stories targeting America’s vitriolic Presidential election. The motives are less about changing political minds and more about cashing in on the election’s most passionate members. Clickbait headlines titled: “Hilary in 2013: I would like to see people like Donald Trump run for office; They’re honest and can’t be bought!” or “Mike Pence says Michelle Obama is the most vulgar first lady we’ve ever had!” These are fairly mild titles, others claim to reveal sex tapes of candidates (or their spouses), calls for a race war, or endorsements from the Pope.

These news sites set up pages on Facebook and encourage their users to share, share, share! The more shares and clicks, the more revenue these sites see from tools such as Google’s adsense. While Facebook, Google, and other organizations are working on ways to combat fake news, the process will be slow and users should not rely on these media to serve as filters for them. Instead, educators should focus even more on teaching themselves and their students to be more digitally literate and savvy. There are a few tools that are in your arsenal to use right away.

Is the Story & Headline Over the Top?

No matter how much you dislike (or even despise) your political opponent, you should immediately be suspicious of a headline that reeks of sensationalism. Claims that an arrest is pending, signs of devil worship, calls for genocide, or other topics that just sound outrageous, go into the story with a cautious attitude.

Is the Story from a Legitimate News Source?

If you are reading a shared story, be sure to check the source. In this day of news clamoring for clicks and ratings, it’s not unusual for them to use sensational headlines to get readers. However, check for the author and publisher. Established news sources (The New York Times, the Washington Post, the BBC, your local paper, etc) have systems in place to confirm sources and vet information. If you have never heard of the news organization publishing the article or they do not have an author listed, be suspicious.

Read the Article

This may seem a little obvious, but a lot of people share headlines rather than stories. Read the story yourself and see if it matches the headline. I recently read a story

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

entitled “President of Mexico contacts President-Elect Trump to Discuss Details of the Wall.” However, when you read the story, it simply said that the President of Mexico had contacted President-elect Trump to congratulate him on his win (a common practice by all foreign governments). Reading an article may also make it clear that the news information is suspect. If it contains a lot of typos and grammatical errors, that is a red flag. Legitimate news sources proofread and edit all articles prior to publication. While a typo or two make sneak through, it’s a rarity.

Check the Source Information

If the article claims that Wikileaks, public statements, tax documents, or other information “reveals” information, they should be linking or providing copies of that information. I have seen New York Times articles on the Clinton email scandal directly link back to the Wikileaks information dump. If the article contains no evidence or sources to back it up, assume the information is false.

Look for other Verifying Sources

While one news source may trump another on a story, they all will get to it eventually. If you read a story, confirm it with another source. If you see a sensational topic being covered by one outlet only, the information is suspect. The issue of media-bias is often cited as the reason one news outlet covers a story. However, there are numerous left and right leaning legitimate news organizations. No single outlet is the purveyor of the truth. Follow the journalistic mandate of “at least two independent, reliable sources.”

Perhaps the best way to avoid getting tricked by false news stories on social media is to keep yourself well informed by reading, watching, and listening to a variety of news outlets. The more informed you are of the current trends and cycles in the news, the more likely you are to immediately smell out a false story.

 

 

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Effective Ways for Educators to Use Twitter

I am a big fan of using Twitter to share, collaborate, and learn. This infographic highlights many ways that educators can use Twitter in their practice.

infographic26 Effective Ways to use Twitter for Teachers and Educators Infographic
Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

Using Social Media in Natural Disaster

I just finished preparing my home (as best as I can) for Hurricane Matthew. Now, I hunker down, watch, and hope that it gives us a wide pass. Social Media now plays an important role in our lifestyles and that includes emergencies. Here are a few ways to employ it:

Keep People Updated

Hurricane_Frances_2004.jpgUse Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, LinkedIn) to share status and safety with friends and family. Many of us have a lot of friends and families all over the country (or world). It can be a challenge to field messages from them when preparing for, during, or cleaning up after an emergency. A Facebook post (or using Facebook’s Safety Check) can let everyone know that you are okay, any change of location if you evacuated or had to seek alternative housing, and requests for help.

Stay Updated

Federal, State, and Local Governments, as well as Emergency Agencies, will update their Social Media accounts regularly. Be sure to follow (or at least check) the Twitter accounts of your local Government, your City’s Emergency Management, Government Officials, School Districts, and more. A few National Organizations you may want to watch specifically: FEMA, the Red Cross, and NOAA.

Communicate

Landlines are still your first line of defense in an emergency (cell towers will come down first and landlines aren’t reliant on power). However, even with a landline you may get busy circuits. If you have a cell signal or can find an internet connection, Social Media communicators are your friend! Using tools like Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, or other Direct Message tools can help you to keep in touch.

I hope that you find these tools useful for your next emergency! Stay safe out there!

Common Sense Media – Free Digital Citizenship Curriculum (Limited Time)

Common Sense Media has just announced that it’s Digital Citizenship textbooks are currently free via iBooks until September 30, 2016. After September 30th, the iBooks will go to $8.99 per device for the teacher edition and $1.99 per device for the student workbooks.

You can download the books via the iTunes store here.

3 Ways to Expand Your PLN This Summer

This is reblogged from my post on Daily Genius.

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Summer is fast approaching; this is the time of year when teachers are preparing students for exams and trying to keep their classes from descending into the Lord of the Flies. When it finally arrives, summer is an important time for busy educators and allows them to relax, recharge, and often work on honing their craft in both formal and informal professional development. With the more flexible work schedule of the summer, it is also a great time to build up your Professional Learning Network (PLN) — especially one that expands beyond the walls of the classroom.

Here are a few resources to help you do just that:

Build your PLN on Twitter

Twitter has become the online PLN for teachers. If you haven’t yet explored Twitter as a professional development tool, then summer is a perfect time to do that. Check out this article to help you get started. Once you dive in, here are some great organizations and people to follow (in addition to this author of course):

Educators

  • @JohnKingatED – The Secretary of Education is an important individual to follow on Twitter. He will post updates on Public Education Policy and highlight various trends in education.
  • @TheJLV – Jose Vilson, Founder of #EduColor, Social Justice advocate, author, public speaker.
  • @globalearner – Alan November, a prominent educator, speaker, and education trainer.
  • @DrTonyWager – Expert in Residence at Harvard Innovation Lab, prominent author, and keynote speaker.
  • @Saradateachur – Sarah Thomas, Technology integrationist, social justice advocate, researcher, and prominent speaker.
  • @HeidiHayesJacob – Founder of Curriculum 21.
  • @web20classroom – Steven W. Anderson, educator, author, and evangelist.
  • @AudreyWatters – Educator and writer of @HackEducation
  • @AngelaMaiers – Educator, keynote speaker, author, and educational advocate.
  • @TomWhitbey – Educator, Tech Evangelist, and founder of #edchat.
  • @cybraryman1 – Former Librarian and Educator, Jerry Blumengarten, has resources on just about every topic imaginable including a massive list of PLN Stars.

Organizations

  • @DailyGenius – Learn something new every day!
  • @EdTechTeacher21 – The official twitter handle for EdTechTeacher; learn tips and tricks, pedagogical methodology, and more.
  • @Microsoft_EDU – The official twitter handle for Microsoft.
  • @GoogleForEdu – The official twitter account for Google Apps for Education
  • @NPR_ed – NPR’s education team
  • @Edutopia – Learn about the latest posts and articles from innovative educators.

Follow a Blog

With summer comes a little extra time to do some reading. Here are a few blogs you should sign up for (in addition to this one). If you need help organizing your Blogs, or would prefer not to sign up for blog updates via email, try using an RSS reader. My favorite is feedly.

  • EDUWells – Richard Wells is an international leader in the world of education. Read about his experiments in the classroom as both a teacher and an administrator.
  • Jonathan Wylie – Every time I read Jonathan’s blog, I learn something new! Use his blog to learn new tips and tricks, explore existing tools, and for deeper discussions on effective pedagogy.
  • Cool Cat Teacher – I love Vicki’s blog. She explores everything from the emotional taxation of teaching to effective practice in the classroom.
  • The Principal of Change – Eric Sheninger is an educational leader that advocates the role of reflection in educational practice.
  • MindShift/KQED – MindShift explores everything from devices in the classroom to the need for recess. You will always learn something relevant to your classroom on this site.
  • Cult of Pedagogy – A digital magazine for educators.
  • Hybrid Pedagogy – A peer reviewed, online journal that explores the role of technology in education.
  • EdTechTeacher – Their instructors post a few times each week and cover topics from technology, to teaching, to the latest in research.
  • CMRubinWorld – Writer, Cathy Rubin, regularly interviews some of the most prominent educators in the world. Her monthly global blogger series also features great work from a range of educators.

Subscribe to a new Podcast

Podcasts are great ways to learn new things. Many of them are free, and you can find them in various places (iTunes Store, SoundCloud, Google Play, and more). Here are a few of my favorites:

Expanding Twitter, checking out new some blogs, and subscribing to podcasts are three easy, flexible, and free ways for educators to expand their PLN this summer (and even into the school year). Check out these examples and leave some of your own in the comments!

5 Ways for Teachers to get Started on Twitter

This is reblogged from my post on Daily Genius.

twitter-logo-765x477

Social Media and education have a complicated relationship. Most educators come into contact with it for the first time through a negative experience – a disciplinary action involving students or even peers. As such, many administrators have actively cautioned teachers against the use of Social Media, and many educators themselves have condemned Social Media as a mere distraction to education. However, much like other tools out there, the reality lies somewhere in between.

Let’s take Twitter as an example. If you’re unfamiliar with Twitter, it’s a microblogging platform. This means that users can share thoughts, links, and other information in short bursts of information (140 characters, plus links and/or media). In the last few years, Twitter has emerged as a powerful platform for educators. In fact, teachers make up a significant amount of the traffic volume on Twitter, and roughly 25% of educators are users of the platform. This makes Twitter an excellent platform for educators to connect with others, share, and learn. Here’s a quick guide to get you started.

Get on Twitter

This is the most obvious step – time to get an account! To start, go to twitter.comand sign up for an account. Create an avataraccount with your real name and set it to public; that’s right, limited privacy settings. Many of us have been taught to fear being ourselves online for everything from “stranger danger” to reprisal from employers. Your name is already available in the broad universe of the internet on a variety of media (try Googling it), so Twitter is really not a risky venture. Next, consider this yourprofessional account. This means you will be representing yourself as your best professional self, the way you would in a meeting at school or in the classroom. If you want to, set some personal boundaries to keep it professional (for example, no talking about politics or religion). Next, personalize your Twitter page – set a background photo and a profile photo. The default “egg” is a deterrent for many people to engage with you online. If you’re uncomfortable with it being a photo of yourself, consider an online caricature. For example, you can post an avatar of yourself (both Funko Pop and Simpsons characters are popular) or select a photo of a beloved pet or a vacation photo. Finally, download the free iOS or Android App for your phone and/or tablet to access Twitter on the go.

Explore the Interface

The interface is intentionally clean to make it easier to navigate. At the top, you will see the subjects: Home, Moments, Notifications, and Messages.

twitter interface

Your  “Home” screen will include Tweets posted chronologically (the newest at the top). In this feed, you will only see what the people who you follow publicly post. “Moments” highlights what is trending throughout all users as well as topics divided by subject. “Notifications” includes material directed at you – responses to your tweets, retweet notifications, follower notifications, and tweets directed directly to you. “Messages” are private messages between users – think of this like Instant Message. You will also see your number of tweets, people you follow, and your list of followers. On the left, there is a list of trending topics and hashtags (it will label those that are “promoted,” meaning someone has paid for them to be on this list).

Follow Users

Who should I follow? Is a common question. Start with people you know and admire – an educational leader (like the secretary of education John King, Ph.D.), authors, academics, publications, thought leaders, and more. Next, you can go to lists like Mashable’s 10 Rockstar Teachers on Twitter to help you get started and expand your list. Don’t worry about following a lot of people. Be selective (at least initially). Lurk, read, and observe what these individuals are doing. I also like to go and see who my idols are following on Twitter and find a few new gems for my Twitter Professional Learning Network (PLN). The more you observe on Twitter, the more your following will grow organically.

Hashtags

hashtagsNothing seems to cause more angst for newbies to Twitter than the concept of “hashtags.” Think of a hashtag as a way to categorize content on Twitter. For example, if I’m going to share something about a new feature in Google Docs, I will add the hashtag #GAFE (GAFE = Google Apps for Education) to my tweet. This will allow anyone searching for news on #GAFE to find my tweet. Within Twitter, hashtags are hyperlinked – if you click on one with a tweet, it will pull up all tweets with that hashtag (divided into “Top Tweets” and “All Tweets”). This can be a great way to keep up with a particular topic trending on Twitter. If you would like a list of educational hashtags, check out this post that catalogues hashtags by subject and content.

Share

The biggest hurdle for new Twitter users to overcome is actually sharing content! However, it’s vital for engaging with Retweetyour Professional Learning Network (PLN). You can share by “retweeting” a post. Do this by clicking the “retweet” button on a Twitter post to share and ensure that the original poster gets credit. Better yet, create and share your own content! Most newspapers and blogs now have a “share via…” button on their posts. This will allow you to share via a website itself which often automatically includes information such as a link and a title. You can then add your own text and hashtags (e.g. #edtech or #edchat) and then click share.

To create a post from scratch, click on the “post” button on your Home screen. The button looks like a quill on a square, in the top right corner of your screen. You can then add text, links, photos, video, and more in the tweet window. Though you are limited to 140 characters (excluding links), share away!

Once you get the hang of Twitter, you will see your PLN grow as you engage with others online, and you will probably find additional features on Twitter; check out more advanced lessons from Justin Reich in his article Teaching Teachers to Tweet. If you do, be sure to share your new tips and tricks with your PLN (on Twitter)!

Resources to Engage Students in Current Events

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This is reblogged from my post at Daily Genius.

Engaging in current events is an important part of academic scholarship and growth. In the 21st century, students are often hit with a barrage of unvetted information. As educators, it is important to guide students in how to assess and evaluate online content (one of my favorite tools for this is the CRAAP test, created by California State University at Chico). Another way to help students stay abreast of current events is to guide them towards authentic news agencies and resources, especially those that engage in social media. At the beginning of the school year, I ask my students follow a series of news sources on the Social Media channels that they use (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc). By keeping these resources in their news feeds, not only do they get breaking news as they check their accounts, but they can use that information to counterbalance the hyperbole and misinformation that may be found in conjunction with a news story. Here are a few resources that I suggest they follow:

PUBLIC RADIO & TELEVISION

NPR continues to be a well respected source of news and information that features a lot of worthwhile content on Facebook andTwitter. It also supplements on Instagram and Snapchat (you can look up their feed within the app). In addition to the national channels, students can also follow their local NPR stations for news and stories that impact their community. I also encourage students to check out NPR’s new app, NPR One, which allows them up to date stories of interest from around the globe.

NATIONAL AND LOCAL NEWSPAPERS

Many newspapers are now behind a paywall (although your local or school library may have digital access for students and teachers). Still, you can access headlines and, in most cases, a limited number of stories per month. Encourage your students to follow the national news, such as: the New York Times, the Washington Post, and USA Today on Facebook and Twitter (as well as other media they employ) in addition to local and state newspapers. Many papers now offer apps for iOS and Android; while an account may be necessary to access all of the content, they still allow students to read headlines and news snippets.

PUBLIC NETWORK NEWS

Network news remains a staple in American society and the “big three;” NBC News, ABC News, and CBS News; are the largest producers of national and local news. Stories that are shared on the public airways are readily available on their websites and includes not only printed material, but video and other relevant media. In addition to the national news cycle, they have local affiliates that cover regional and local stories. Ask students to follow their Twitter and Facebook accounts to keep up with breaking news. Comparing how different news sites cover breaking news is an excellent way to begin a discussion on journalism.

CABLE NEWS

Cable news has become emblematic of our 24 hour news cycle as well as a topic of public debate. While watching the news itself requires a cable subscription, they have open websites and even news clips posted online. Students can keep track of CNN news stories on their website, Twitter account, or Facebook. For more politically driven news, more mature students can explore news avenues such as FoxNews or MSNBC; they can discuss how stories are examined (or not) on different networks. Again, comparative analysis of news can facilitate discussions about the ethics of news as entertainment or political discourse.

INTERNATIONAL AND FOREIGN LANGUAGE

The internet has brought news from around the world into our living rooms. Students can explore English language news covered from a different perspective. For example, students might explore American politics on BBC or Aljazeera. Reading English language news from other countries helps students to broaden their perspective. By subscribing to these avenues on their Facebook and Twitter pages, students can keep abreast of breaking news around the world.

Students studying other languages can explore news networks abroad. For example, French students can read Le Monde’s website or follow them on Twitter. Spanish students can access Univision and follow Spanish language news in the Americas via their Spanish language Twitter and Facebook accounts.. German students can access Spiegel online or follow their German languageTwitter account and Facebook page.

Accessing the news has shifted in light of new technologies. Bringing current events into the Social Media environment that students already explore allows them to have ready access to the news cycle and more meaningfully engage with what is happening around the world.

At EdTechTeacher, we have always prided ourselves on asking “what’s next.” Whether it be iPads, Chromebooks, Google Apps, or other mobile devices, we challenge participants in all of our workshops and conferences to think about how to truly transform student learning. So join us as we plan to bring together all of our learning communities to address the challenge of how to best innovate education. One registration gives you access to all three conferences!

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