There is a growing debate in the U. S. regarding the prevalence of fake news within mainstream media. While I do not believe fake news is new, urban legends in the media have been around for ages, I share the concerns of many educators who worry about the number of students who cannot discern creditable news from fake news. Journalist Brook Donald cites a recent study by researchers at Stanford Graduate School of Education that suggests educators are “dismayed by students’ inability to reason about information they see on the internet” (Donald, 2016). Additionally the study suggests, “many digitally savvy students find it difficult to distinguish advertisements from actual news articles or to identify the source of the information they receive” (Donald, 2016). Why does this matter in education?
The idea that students (who by the way are more connected to technology today than ever before) are being “duped” by what they see online is disturbing and has helped to unite educators to better prepare students to discern reputable news from fake news. So what can teachers do to help students better understand which stories are real and which are fake? Scott Bedley, a teacher in Irvine California, has created seven points aimed at helping his students correctly identify real news. Check out Mr. Bedley’s list below:
Do you know who the source is, or was it created by a common or well-known source?
How does it compare to what you already know?
Does the information make sense? Do you understand the information?
Can you verify that the information agrees with three or more other sources that are also reliable?
Have experts in the field been connected to it or authored the information?
How current is the information?
Does it have a copyright?
While important, moving forward the question cannot solely be about how we help students understand the difference between what is real and what is fake news. I believe the real focus for educators is finding ways to help students seek the truth in all forms of news especially from sources outside of their preferred news feed. tlb