“Fake News” has become the hot topic in today’s media. Studies have shown that most High School teenagers generally believe that what they see on the Internet as “fact” and rarely do they validate sources to prove or disprove what they read on-line. According to a recent Stanford University study, “some 82% of middle-school students couldn’t distinguish between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and a real news story on a website,” and “nearly four in 10 high-school students believed, based on the headline, that a photo of deformed daisies on a photo-sharing site provided strong evidence of toxic conditions near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, even though no source or location was given for the photo.” (Shellenbarger, 2016)
Determining fact from fiction on the Internet is and has always been a huge issue for most educators and learners who are engaged in research projects and general Internet searches in the classroom. Rarely do we find students who know if the information presented to them, online, is relevant or reliable information. Getting students to delve deeper into research problems or questions that go beyond Wiki searches can be problematic. Anderson & Raine (2012) found in their research that many people expressed deep concern “that trends are leading to a future in which most people are shallow consumers of information.” Moreover, that we are in an age of “entertaining distractions” and the Internet has an Orwellian control over us. (p.1) Not being akin to Dystopian thinking, the bigger picture for me is that our students are not learning how to conduct proper searches using the Internet for academic uses, and more importantly, for their intellectual development, and their understanding of the digital Information world that is full of consumer trickery. The socially networked society we now live in requires us to be highly capable information seekers skilled at vetting information on all our personal devices, and most importantly, for academic purposes and for work related technology tasks.
What is reliable information and what is not reliable information when searching on the Internet? How can I get students to know what it looks like? Without proper training, this can be difficult for students to detect when conduction online searches. Many high school students do not understand what is quality information on the Internet nor do they understand that it’s just not about finding the information and “re-arranging the facts,” but also how they use information to build opinion and perspective with the information they collect. In other words, using their “higher-order” thinking skills. (Kovalik, 2013, p.2) High school students at my high school are not formally taught a process for conducting academic searches, and rarely demonstrate the basic skills for vetting information using a framework for evaluating sources—author, currency, subject coverage, and balance. (Bomar, 2001) I have often observed high school students searching on-line and have found that many cannot differentiate between a personal opinion such as those found on a blog or wiki site, and information based on research from academic resource.
Heather McPherson and Margot Dube have already developed a four-step formal approach in “the teaching of research skills to teenagers with an emphasis on technology.” (McPherson & Dube, p.49) They centered their study on the 7-12th grades in any subject area. McPherson and Dube’, created four research steps to teach students IL in the classroom. They are as follows: 1. “Plan-Analyze the topic, find background information, and select search terms and resources; 2. Search-Use keywords and use search engine features; 3. Evaluate-Assess website quality and use a checklist; and 4. Fair Use- List the sources and use citation builder tools.” (McPherson & Dube, p.50) Their IL methods and teaching strategies have been tested and can be applied to most any classroom. Open the link to follow the 4-step process they recommend to teach Information Literacy in secondary classrooms.
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I am a 25+ Classroom teacher and have been using technology in my classroom for about 10 years. I love creative ways to learn, and I'm always looking for great ideas, student projects and engagement activities to share in the classroom.
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