Media Literacy and Fake News

Students today have access to online information all day every day, and at the same time there are more and more fake news websites being created and shared unthinkingly.  It is essential in this environment that students be guided in how to evaluate online information.  Several web resources are now available to assist teachers with this and this review considers two of them: Checkology and Common Sense Media.

Checkology (http://www.thenewsliteracyproject.org/services/checkology) offers a set of online lessons for secondary school students, showing them how to interpret web news and make informed decisions about what to believe and share or act upon.  It offers both a Basic (free) and Premium version, allowing teachers to login and share the virtual classroom with their students, via blended learning experiences which use real-world news examples and discussions with top journalists. The course material can be tailored to fit student ability levels and fitted to available resources and schedules.

Common Sense Media (https://www.commonsense.org/) has also developed a new resource to help combat fake news. The organization’s News and Media Literacy Toolkit comprises lessons, articles and other information to give students the necessary skills to be informed and intelligent media consumers.   From lesson plans about fact-checking to clickbait headlines and fake news, they have included teaching tools and lessons by topic, home-based student activities, interactive games, videos, and professional development materials for teachers too.

These and many other resources exist to help students critically evaluate media information –  getting them to think about whose voices are being presented, what credibility they may or may not have, and how information has been selected (and omitted) in order to make their points.  This ties in with the American Library Association’ CRAAP test, which suggests evaluating online information according to five key criteria: currency, relevance, authority, accuracy and purpose.

As Media Literacy should be an important component in the curriculum, Macrat is re-issuing a series entitle ‘New Media Literacies’ in which various ‘new’ literacies are outlined and we offer suggestions as to how you can involve your learners in activities that centre around these literacies. These notes are now available from Macrat’s Resource Rendezvous (R55).

Categories: Web Watch

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