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Alternative Facts

My most recent article has been posted over on the OSC IB Blogs siteAlternative Facts  I've re-posted it below. Visit the OSC-IB Blogs site and explore the posts on other areas of interest for students and for teachers.


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This week a post on The Adventures of Library Girl (a blog by written by Jennifer LaGarde,  the Lead School Library Media Coordinator/Digital Teaching and Learning Specialist for New Hanover County Schools in Wilmington, NC.) titled Fake News, Alternative Facts and Librarians As Dedicated Defenders of Truth pushed me to think about the idea of Fake News and how librarians, classroom teachers, ICT teachers and schools in general have been working for decades to help students sort the wheat from the chaff when they are "doing research". 

IB schools, which are constantly working to inspire their students and teachers to be Inquirers, Knowledgeable, Thinkers, Communicators, Principled, Open-minded, Caring, Risk-takers, Balanced and Reflective have been teaching "digital literacy", "digital fluency", "computer literacy", "digital citizenship", etc. So have many other schools and organization, of course, but I think that in the IB context, these attributes are more than skill sets.

Long ago (2009), Chris Betcher posted this slide set on SlideShare.net:



In her recent post, Jennifer LaGarde shares a poster with much the same information, designed to help students spot Fake News. (There are many helpful resources on the web - do an image search for "evaluating websites" )


I've always thought that finding answers to the questions asked in these slides or posters are very difficult, if not impossible, for a student (hm, yes, and sometimes even for teachers), for reasons I will not digress upon here. (I would be happy to write about that in another post.)
If you Google 'fake news' you will of course get more results than you could read in a life time - 172.000.000. Some are more enlightening than others, and many, I'm sure, are "fake" - studies, webpages, reports, and news about news.
However, I can recommend a few:
  • Joyce Valenza has written an excellent post on the School Library Journal blog. In Truth, truthiness, triangulation: A news literacy toolkit for a “post-truth” world, she writes that "Our kids need new types of filters. Beyond larger notions of information literacy, I see the case for a specific focus on news literacy. Not as a lesson of good vs. bad. Not as an attempt to pitch traditional media against social media or peer review against popular publication.  Not through the examination of hoaky hoax sites. And certainly not as a one-of, checklist type of lesson for a 9th grade social studies teacher in September...This is a new landscape from the one we taught in even five years ago. We need new compasses for navigation." She shares this TEDEd video by Damon Brown which offers a student-friendly explanation as well as strategies for analyzing news sources:

This story on the BBC News site, Cambridge scientists consider fake news 'vaccine' on 23 January 2017, offers some interesting ideas for teachers to consider adding to their digital literacy lessons. " "Misinformation can be sticky, spreading and replicating like a virus," said the University of Cambridge study's lead author Dr Sander van der Linden. The idea is to provide a cognitive repertoire that helps build up resistance to misinformation, so the next time people come across it they are less susceptible." " Another story about the Cambridge research on the Huffington Post  adds Dr. van der Linden's thoughts that “The idea is to provide a cognitive repertoire that helps build up resistance to misinformation, so the next time people come across it they are less susceptible.”" You can read a more detailed description of the study, and download the report at the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication's web page.