Friday, December 16, 2016

What Comes Between Fake News and Students? Educators

What Comes Between Fake News and Students? Educators:

What Comes Between Fake News and Students? Educators

fake news students

Every week, David Stuart hands out a current news article to his world history students so they can digest and evaluate the credibility of the sources.  One day this fall, Stuart, now in his tenth year at Cedar Springs High School in Michigan, distributed a couple of stories about the 2016 presidential candidates.
In the middle of a uniquely controversial and divisive campaign, it was perhaps inevitable that during the discussion some students would dredge up information that didn’t appear in the articles their teacher had provided. It was quickly apparent, says Stuart, that much of it was untrue and probably gleaned from dubious sources – or peddlers of what has now famously been dubbed “fake news.”
There’s nothing new about teenagers (or adults for that matter) finding unreliable or just plain false information on the Internet, but fake news –  bogus or exaggerated information disguised as reliable “journalism” and funneled primarily through Facebook – went viral in a big way in 2016. An analysis by Buzzfeed revealed that from August to November, the height of the presidential campaign, the level of engagement (likes, shares, etc.) for posts categorized as “fake news” outpaced that of stories from mainstream news outlets.
Source: Buzzfeed News
Source: Buzzfeed News
Because it was generated by the hyperpartisan climate of the 2016 election, addressing fake news in the classroom specifically could be dicey for educators if it is perceived that the purpose is to knock down or dismiss political opinions and candidates.
The conversation in David Stuart’s class, however, was focused more on  larger questions of how students as news consumers reach conclusions and how they can and should use evidence to support these conclusions.
“I don’t think my students are intentionally looking for conspiracy web sites or blatantly misleading information,” Stuart explains. “So I would just redirect the discussion to questions about credibility without passing judgement. Is this source valid? Where is the evidence? The conversations were respectful and the kids handled it really well. Let them do the thinking.”

When Information Becomes Polluted

Taking on “fake news” still comes down to media and digital literacy, which is taught in many schools but certainly not at the level needed to help neutralize the effects of false information that went viral.  Writing on his blog, Bill Ferriter, a teacher in North Carolina, believes focusing on the “new literacy” in the classroom will do more to curb the problem than waiting on Mark Zuckerberg to overhaul Facebook’s fact-checking procedures:
“We don’t need new policies and tools from tech companies to identify sketchy What Comes Between Fake News and Students? Educators:

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