reading time: 2 minutes (+ if you choose to do a little follow-up)
Today’s post is a call to action. The ability to recognize integrity and honesty in the news and social media is a necessary life skill for us all as empowered citizens in a global community.
As educators, the concept of fake news comes as no big surprise. We’ve been dealing with teaching kids how to recognize legitimate online resources for years with fun hoax Websites that help us in a light-hearted way like the infamous zapatopi tree octopus site. But in recent months, what used to be a more or less minor bump on the path of research skill building has taken a serious turn.
The 2016 election cycle, the coining of the term post-truth (??) and international crises that have been borne out of fake news bring new urgency to the need to ensure that our students are discerning consumers of media. It’s like propaganda on steroids. One well-publicized tweet that espouses a personal opinion can suddenly become ‘fact’ as it’s supported by a strong fake news article, or even a misleading headline designed to grab attention on a legitimate news item. Since many don’t read past headlines, beliefs (aka ‘facts’) are being cemented in 140 characters (or less) with alarming regularity these days.
The Huffington Post recently published a fantastic article on what to look for in a news article to verify its veracity. There are 8 recommended ways to check a source. You don’t have to do them all, any one of them would expose a counterfeit. As you dive in, be sure to follow the links. They lead to many valuable resources, including access to a codified list of ‘news’ sites created by a journalism professor to help students discern between fake news, misleading headlines, and satire.
If you only have one ed tech resolution this year, make it: Empower your students to act with discretion and to be resourceful and knowledgeable.
Carol Glanville, M.Ed.
Organizational Design Consultant