Tag Archives: digital literacy

Learn to Spot Fake News by Creating It (In a Game)

badnews-tablet-intro.pngFake News, disinformation, and conspiracy theories are not just the subject of political investigations and Sunday night commentaries, but there are a legitimate concern for those who need to teach digital and media literacies. To that end, a developer has created a free online game called Bad News.

According to its creators:

The Bad News Game confers resistance against disinformation by putting players in
the position of the people who create it, and as such gain insight into the various
tactics and methods used by ‘real’ fake news-mongers to spread their message.
This, in turn, builds up resistance.

They have also created an Educator sheet to help teachers and specialist employ the game and teaching digital media literacy skills at their institutions.

Advertisements

Fake News Lesson Plan Ideas

I recently had the privilege of participating in Vicki Davis’s show, 10 minute teacher. We talked about teaching students new Media Literacy skills in the era of “Fake News.”

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.

 

 

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.

PEW – Teens & Technology

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

PEW Research has released a comprehensive report on how teens engage with technology in the world around them. The information is a view into the private lives of “networked teens.”

The topics they tackle are online engagement, cyberbullying, teen romantic relationships, their relationship with parents, and more. Most of the information should come as a relief to parents and educators. For example, in spite of hyped cyber-bullying reports in the news, 69% of teens believe that people are “mostly kind” when they engage online. Also, when it comes to Romance, teens still prefer to engage with those they know in real life; retaining a healthy skepticism towards individuals they meet online. Social Media, however, does seem to be a forum for flirtatious exchanges. And breaking up? Doing it in person is still the most socially acceptable method.

You can read the comprehensive report and data at PEW Research: Teens & Technology.

Free iTunes U Resources on Digital Citizenship & Literacy

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

As Digital Citizenship & Literacy becomes more important in schools, it’s necessary for educators to become more familiar with the current best practices, legal requirements, and lesson plans. iTunes U (one of my favorite tools) offers a number of books, resources, and free digital classes to help you become more informed and to craft effective lesson plans and strategies to share in the classroom.

Resources include a variety of books from Common Sense Media, courses from Saint Ignatius High School and University of Britain, as well as in class apps and tools. You can find the whole list of resources here

.

Protecting Student Privacy in the Digital World

This year, I had the privilege of collaborating with other professionals in my field: Thelma Almuena, the Principal of Columbia Elementary, George Philip, teacher and technology integrationist at the Stanley Clark School, and Ana Albir, founder and CEO of Drawp Entertainment and creator of Drawp for Schools. We have put together a panel proposal for SXSWedu 2016 conference focusing on student privacy in the digital age. I hope you will support our session and vote for it to be accepted. You can vote for our session via this link:

http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/48239

If you do not have a SXSWedu account, you can create one here.

Our session summary is:

With ubiquitous classroom technology, students’ privacy is an increasing concern. Federal laws, such as the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, are difficult to navigate but vital to protecting students’ rights. This panel will focus on demystifying the process, providing key strategies for lawfully implementing technology, and looking to the future of technology and education. Panelists include technology and school administrative leaders (at both public and private schools) as well as a software developer for PK-elementary tools.

Questions Answered

  1. Gain an understanding of current Federal Privacy Laws that apply to schools.
  2. Understand how to vet and implement technology tools in schools.
  3. Understand the direction that privacy and educational technology will take in the future.

Speakers

Organizer

Jennifer Carey Ransom Everglades School