Teaching students digital literacy can be a challenging task for today’s educators. With the flood of “fake news” on social media, people can be fooled into believing one of the clickbait articles that are full of junk. I’m sure many of us have heard the saying “if it’s on Facebook, it must be true”? As educators, we are expected to shape students and help them become well rounded individuals when they leave our classrooms. This means we must also help them to learn to be critical in what they consume online.
So how do we teach our students to sort through the flood of fake news to find credible sources?
Being that my major is in English and my minor is General Science and Biology, I feel like having a variety of resources available to educate students is beneficial. Both these subjects could involve using news and research to supplement the learning. Science courses often use research in assignments. For English classes, I think that understanding Digital Literacy is important because some topics may include reading news articles of current events. You could also have students create some sort of a clickbait article as a writing assignment or challenge them to find an article and identify it as being biased. Overall, I think that teaching students Digital Literacy could be covered in really any subject area and grade level.
From the list of resources shared with us in our EDTC300 Weekly Plans, the first thing that caught my eye was this comic. It teaches viewers about the “backfire effect” which is what causes you to become emotional when exposed to an idea that challenges your core beliefs. What I like about using a comic is that it can help some learners stay engaged, with images in to break up the continuous reading. One thing I would recommend for other Canadian teachers is to try to find a similar Canadian comic. This is an American comic so the examples might not be as effective in showing the way headlines can affect our emotions as one written about our events would be.
Whether we view a statement as being factual or based on opinion depends a lot on whether we agree with it or not. This study performed in the United States showed that people are usually good at identifying factual statements. However, when identifying opinion statements, they were more likely to classify the statements as being factual rather than opinion if it aligned with their own beliefs. If you are interested in trying it out yourself, visit this link. Thinking back to the comic, this is another study that shows how our emotions and personal beliefs influence what we seek out. Many of us want our beliefs to be correct and therefore seek out articles that reflect those beliefs.
I believe a comic such as the one mentioned could be a good introduction to teaching students Digital Literacy. From here, I think the students would need to learn how to distinguish the various forms of news and facts they find. This could be done by using a checklist for things to look out for, as is found here. This blog post breaks down what you should do when you find a new source, from investigating the URL to being critical of images. It then goes on to break down the things to consider when looking at each of these things and asks questions to get you started in thinking critically about the sources being used. The post also includes a link to a folder with all of the evaluating news resources mentioned that can be downloaded on Google Drive.
Here is another Google Doc that lays out a list of things to look out for when determining when a news source is biased or not. It also includes an activity where students are to go in groups to look through three articles, all covering the same event, to identify the biases present in them. This would be something I would use for a full lesson on Digital Literacy. The other resources I mentioned could be used as a quick reminder before sending students to do research. This activity could be used in a Digital Literacy lesson such as some of the ones I mentioned before.
As far as curriculum links, one I could tie Digital Literacy into is some of the Health 9 outcomes. From relationship expectations to the stigma around infections and diseases, you could teach your students to determine an unbiased article from one that is biased.
Question of the day for my fellow EDTC300 students, what are some curriculum links you can draw on using Digital Literacy?