Digital Literacy: EDTC Blog #7

I think that one of the most important things students need to learn in order to become truly digitally literate is that most things one reads on the internet are either extremely biased or just outright not true. As I’ve mentioned before, and will likely continue to mention, one of my ultimate goals as an educator is to create enlightened thinkers in my students who can take all the information they are given and have educated, inquisitive opinions. In saying that, I think that forming an opinion from a biased source is just as ignorant as forming an opinion from nothing; you still don’t have all the information. It is our job as teachers, then, to help students gain tools to deduce what you can believe on the internet.

Although many students have a lot of experience with deducing fake from true on the internet from outside of school, there is still an equal amount of students that take things completely at face value. This is especially evident in a 2016 study done by Stanford University, Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning, which shows many students ranging from middle school to college age give answers that varied from skeptical and apprehensive to immediately trusting.

In my case, as an aspiring high school age teacher, the problem of fake news is at its peak. Politically speaking, high school tends to be when students because to actually have critical thoughts about the world around them and where they fit politically on the spectrum. As shown in Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online, these young people are the demographic that is particularly targetted by this propaghanda so as to swing a fresh generation towards a specific political preference, almost against their will. This is extremely dangerous, and could almost be classified as brainwashing. I, as an educator, have the onus to make sure not only that these students of mine have tools to recognize fake news, but also defense mechanisms against these predatory people with agendas.

In terms of connecting this teaching to the Saskatchewan curriculum, look no further than the History 10 outcome “Political Decision Making”. It is a well-known, teachable fact that in order to make good political decisions, one must be as well-versed in it as they can, and in today’s day and age that includes perceiving fake news. As mentioned in Educating for Democracy in a Partisan Age: Confronting the Challenges of Motivated Reasoning and Misinformation, “democracy works better when participants care about the accuracy of truth claims” (1). It is because of this that it is absolutely imperative that we show students not only the advantages, but also the dangers of nigh-unlimited information on the internet.

 

 

Works Cited

Wineburg, Sam and McGrew, Sarah and Breakstone, Joel and Ortega, Teresa. (2016). Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning. Stanford Digital Repository. Available at: http://purl.stanford.edu/fv751yt5934

Marwick, A., & Lewis, R. (2016). Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online. Retrieved June 23, 2019, from https://datasociety.net/pubs/oh/DataAndSociety_MediaManipulationAndDisinformationOnline.pdf.

Kahne, J., & Bowyer, B. (2016). Educating for Democracy in a Partisan Age. American Educational Research Journal, 54(1), 3-34. doi:10.3102/0002831216679817

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