How do we know if it's real or fake news?

Hello colleagues, A lot of people are talking about all the fake news that proliferated during the 2016 presidential election. Many of these fake news stories were shared in social media with titles that can be described as "click-bait," i.e., the title is something so surprising or shocking that one is enticed to click on the story to find out more. However, in many cases, the story has nothing at all to do with the title and may even contain information that is untrue. Unfortunately, some readers are not aware that the story is false.

How can we tell if something is a fake news story or a real one? Gretel Kauffman reports in the Christian Science Monitor on a Stanford University study with teens that showed that 82% of middle and high school students could not distinguish between real and fake news.

Most adults are likely to be better at spotting fake news than teens; however, some learners in adult education classes may struggle with this, especially if they have limited experiences online. Conducting research online is a common standards-based assignment. Have you taught lessons that require students to evaluate the credibility of web sources? How have you structured these lessons?

Kauffman references Renee Hobbs' website Media Education Lab which features the webpage, Mind Over Media: Analyzing Contemporary Propaganda. This page offers a range of teaching resources to support students to think critically about the messages all around them.  Please share your impressions of this webpage and its instructional resources.

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, College and Career Standards




Hi Susan, 

I started a similar discussion on the Evidence Based Professional Development Community of Practice, and also cross posted on the Technology CoP.  I quoted President Obama with, ""The new media ecosystem means everything is true and nothing is true." For example, an explanation of climate change from a Nobel Prize-winning physicist looks exactly the same on a Facebook feed as the denial of climate change from a conspiracy theorist. The abundance of misinformation, conspiracy theories, and sophistication of fake news sites makes media literacy an important skill." I shared the resource This site provides a list of ways we can evaluate online sites.

I'm glad you also started a similar conversation. It shows how important the information is and how we need to incorporate the idea of fake news into our lessons. :-) 




I read this article today and thought I would summarize the opinions shared as a potential counter point to this discussion. Teaching media literacy and ensuring individuals have the ability to critically evaluate what they are reading is an essential skill. However, there is some arugment against 'curing fake news'.  Recently, Mark Zuckerberg started a plan that would  censor a user's news feed in order to eliminate fake news. But do we really want powerful entities determining what is true and what is false?  The real question could be phrased as, "Why does fake news exist?" Popular print material such as the National Enquirer which are all about fake news have been around for decades but we have always understood them to be unreliable sources. Fake news is, as this opinion piece states, more about entertainment. While I fully believe fake news is a serious concern - another question lingers. What is the role of the media empires in deciding what is fake versus what is real? Should it be up to a media empire to decide what we read  or watch as fake or real? In our classrooms, along with teaching media literacy - should we also be teaching about freedom of the press? As always, I am very interested in your thoughts. 

Kathy Tracey



Kathy, and others,

We need to teach the skills that students need to sort out news from opinion pieces, and from fake news. Based on at least one recent survey, schools have not succeeded in doing that. A November 22, 2016 Ed Surge Article, "Students Struggle to Distinguish News From Fiction" describes a recent Stanford University study, “Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning,” that examines how teens evaluate information they find online. Overall, the report says that young people’s ability to reason about the information they find on the Internet is "bleak". I wonder how adult learners would fare on a similar survey.

David J. Rosen



Hello Colleagues,

Have you taken this Pew Research Center "Fact or Opinion"  10-question quiz ? It only takes a few minutes. Perhaps you would also like to share it with your students. If you do, please let us know what their experience was like, Share your own experience with us too.  When you get your results you also see how you compared with other Americans who took the quiz. Those results could stimulate an interesting discussion of why that might be and what your students think could be done to change Americans' understandings of what the difference is between a fact or an opinion statement.

David J. Rosen

Hi Kathy and all, I had the same thought about the fake news that's been around forever, e.g., the National Enquirer.  I think the difference is that everyone -- or almost everyone anyway!-- knows this newspaper is fake. In the case of the National Enquirer and similar publications, part of the fun is being in on the joke, as is also true of reality TV and even WWF wrestling. What happened during this election seems to me quite different. Many people did not understand that the things they were reading and passing along to others via social media were entirely false.

Moreover, as you noted in your prior post, President Obama's comments are quite right. When we don't share a common premise or understanding of what is factual, this can lead down a dangerous road. The climate change example is apropos.

You raise an important question about who gets to decide what is true and what is not true. I don't think we can get rid of or 'cure' fake news, but we can have robust discussions about how to determine what is fake and what is real. For certain, we need to include these discussions in our classrooms.

We've shared some helpful resources in this thread to draw upon in our teaching. It would be great to hear how teachers are approaching this important issue.

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, College and Career Standards CoP

College and Career Standards Colleagues,

The Providence Journal has created a quiz for students to sort out real from fake news, and from humor.

It will take you just a few minutes, and it's fun. Then you might decide that this would be good to show -- and discuss with -- your students. If you use this with your students, I would like to know what you learned from doing it. I also wonder if there are other fake news quizzes that teachers like better. If so, tell us why you like them better.

I am putting together a list of resources for helping adult learners sort out real from fake news, and from humor, that I can make available to those who may be interested. Email me.

I noticed that the NPR affiliate I listen to in Boston was able to meet its fundraising goal ahead of schedule this time. Is that because one way of dealing with the problem of fake and biased news is to listen to -- and support -- NPR, and its affiliate broadcasts, for their news reporting, and to eschew Internet social media news? If so, perhaps some newspapers that offer subscriptions in hard copy or in secure online formats, those that protect their reputation for honesty, reliability, fact checking and comprehensive reporting, that carefully screen the news they print, will see a resurgence in subscribers. I hope so.

David J. Rosen

...but I would like to see a quiz that included the contextual clues that indicate that something could be fake (ex: urls, the ability to look at other stories posted by the site, etc.). Unless I'm missing something, this one just shows a tiny piece of the website. Yes, I can use logic to figure out that Obama wouldn't ban the Pledge of Allegience, but if I can't see the url, I'm missing a crucial piece of information that confirms my suspicion. If I just assume that everything that strikes me as unbelievable is untrue, then I'm just learning cynicism (and I'm deprived of fantastic events like an octopus in a parking garage...).

Here's an acitivity idea: get the class into pairs so that at least one member of each pair has a Facebook account. Click on the first three "news" stories posted on that person's feed and, as a pair, decide if the story is lies, humor, opinion, limited but real (ex: outdated info, live update on an ongoing event...), or full reporting (verified sources, inclusion of context...). Make use of other websites as needed to check for hoaxes, get verification, check author's publishing history, etc. Each pair prepares a report including their stories, their verdicts, and their justification of their verdicts. Optional: post your verdict in the comments section for the post.

Hi Rachel and all, This is a great idea for an activity for deepening students' critical thinking skills. Thank you for sharing it, Rachel. Please let us know if you implement this in your classroom.

Over the weekend, I listened to a Fresh Air podcast on NPR -- "Fake News Expert on How Fake Stories Spread and Why People Believe Them." The interview featured Craig Silverman who has been studying the issue of fake news for years-- very informative. [I always listen to podcasts when I am exercising!] Those who are interested will want to check it out when you have time.

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, College and Career Standards

Thanks for posting the quiz, David. I think a teacher might be able to use this quiz; however, I agree with Rachel, in that I would want to present students with more of the details than what this quiz shows. If there are other resources that members are aware of, I hope you will let us know. Thanks to David making a list of useful resources and being willing to share them.

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, College and Career Standards

I agree with Rachel and Susan that there are probably much better ways to help adult learners deal with fake news than this oversimplified quiz. I hope everyone will be on the lookout for them, and let us know what you find. As I mentioned, I am compiling a list of resources and will make it available to those who may be interested.

David J. Rosen



Hello colleagues, I came across an infographic entitled "Ten Questions for Fake News Detection" from The News Literacy Project (NLP). There are numerous other resources, including a blog called "Teachable Moments," for educators at the NLP site.  NLP features an online course at designed to train students to effectively determine whether information is real or fake. The course--which by the way is not free-- includes four modules: 1) Filtering News and Information, 2) Exercising Civic Freedoms, 3) Navigating Today's Information and 4) How to Know What to Believe.

Your thoughts on the usefulness of these resources are welcome. Also, please continue to share materials you have found related to this important topic.

Happy New Year, all!

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, College and Career Standards CoP

Hello colleagues, Marcus Walker, a high school teacher in Boston recently blogged in the PBS Teachers' Lounge about "Truth and the Modern Classroom."  Walker's words are powerful and are pertinent to our conversation: "Our students can only affect positive change given their ability to discern truth. Truth requires the support of objective facts. Strengthening the fabric of our society requires reliance on objective facts that inform truth. To be clear, truth is not a constant entity. We can look at the same objective facts and arrive at different conclusions. This is how freedom and democracy work best. Nevertheless, most important is the quality of one’s evidence – relevant, corroborated and verifiable evidence that leads to a truth based on facts and not simply emotion."

Walker links us to some wonderful instructional resources to support lessons that guide students to understand the importance of verifiable evidence and facts. These resources are timely since they would be appropriate to explore during African American History Month in February. In addition, the African American History Month website also features a wide range of relevant resources.

Please share your reactions to Walker's words as well as any additional resources to engage students in critical thinking to evaluate fake versus real information.

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, College and Career Standards

Hello colleagues, I came across some additional resources related to discerning the truthfulness of information and news. Another aspect of this issue, which many of us have included in our instruction for years is engaging students in determining not only what is fake or false but also what is opinion versus fact. There are so many opinion pieces out there, and it is sometimes not that easy to recognize them as opinion versus just reporting facts. What really is the author's point of view or purpose? Determining point of view or author's purpose requires critical thinking and is an expected outcome of the ELA standards.

Check out Mary Beth Hertz's blog on Edutopia, "Battling Fake News in the Classroom: See how one educator helps students develop media literacy—a critical 21st-century skill".on Edutopia. Hertz discusses the work of Howard Rheingold, who coined the term "crap detection," and has been promoting the need to teach critical thinking around media literacy since the 1990s. The article includes links to some useful instructional resources.

If you come across additional resources related to this topic, please share them as well as anecdotes about addressing this issue with adult learners.

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, CCS

Hi Susan, and others,

I promised to assemble some Fact from Fake Instruction resources, from this discussion and elsewhere, that might be useful for adult basic skills teachers.

I'll keep collecting, but here are my (unedited) notes so far for those who may be eager to get going now.

David J. Rosen

Fact from Fake: Instructional Resources Notes,  1.5.2017

1) From “Don’t Get Duped” 

What follows under this section is all excerpted from  "Don't Get Duped":

  • Confirmation bias. People search out information that confirms or reinforces what they already think.

           All too often, they are not open to information that should cause them to question those beliefs.

           in middle and high school on how to accurately sniff out the truth.

           and an ad that clearly stated it was “sponsored content,” basically unedited advertising.

  • “Students need to be able to understand newsworthiness, sourcing, documentation, fundamental fairness

            and the aspiration of minimizing bias in a dispassionate search for truth,”

            wrote Miller in a journal article for the National Council of Social Studies

            “They also need to be familiar with concepts of transparency and accountability.”

           most Americans who see “fake news” believe it.

So what can you do?

Slow down. Don’t reflexively pass on something. Start by always employing critical thinking skills. Be skeptical, not cynical. Expect to be fooled.

Be vigilant. Don’t make sweeping generalizations. Examine news stories on a case-by-case basis.

A savvy news consumer’s responsibility is to learn how to discern credible information from opinion,

sponsored content, “fake news,” viral rumors, clickbait, doctored videos or images and plain old

political propaganda. Here are some tips on how:

1. Consider the source.

  • Is it a site you are familiar with? If not, check the URL. Watch out for URLs with .co added

           to what looks like a mainstream news site. For example, many have been fooled by a site

           that looks like it’s ABC News but it’s not:

  • Also watch for sites that end in “lo” like Newslo. “These sites take pieces of accurate information

           and then packaging that information with other false or misleading “facts” (sometimes for the purposes

           of satire or comedy),” according to Merrimack College Professor Melissa Zimdars, who has made a specialty of studying “fake news.”

  • Read the “About Us” section. Does it seem credible? It too may be made up.
  • Is there a way to contact the news organization?
  • Does it have a link to its editorial standards? Like PBS does.
  • How credible does the website look? Is it screaming ALL-CAPS? Are there distracting gizmos

           for you to click on and win $10,000? Exit, immediately.

2. Read beyond the headlines.

Too often we read an outrageous headline that confirms our biases and quickly pass it on.

Don’t. Read deeper into the story and ask:

  • How many sources are there? Is there documentation or links to back up the claim?

           Could you independently verify the contents? In most mainstream media stories,

           people are quoted by name, title and where they work (although sometimes they are quoted anonymously),

           and there are links to reports or court documents.

  • Search the names of people, places or titles in a story. For example, the false story about Clinton

           being behind an FBI agent’s murder-suicide, said it took place in Walkerville, Maryland.

           There is no such place. There is a WalkerSville. Tricky.

  • Check out a far-fetched quote by copying and pasting it into a search engine. Anyone else have that?
  • Check out the author’s name. Search it or click on it. Has he or she written anything else? Is it credible?
  • Is there any context included in the story? Does it seem fair? Are there opposing points of view?
  • Drill down to find out who is behind the site —especially if it’s a contentious issue.

3. Check the date.

Too many times, a story is recycled with a new exaggerated headline. You’d be surprised how many times people die. 

In July, I got an email that famous journalist Helen Thomas had died. I started to forward it but something didn’t seem right.

Why? She had died three years ago.

4. Double check suspicious photos.

This is fairly easy to do by right-clicking on a image and the doing a Google search.

 Photos of Hillary Clinton stumbling back in February were recycled closer to the election

to give the impression she was sick.

Several other helpful sites can assist:

5. Check your biases.

Know your own biases. Try taking Harvard University’s Project Implicit bias test.

6. Learn from a wide variety of sources.

           which monitors the mainstream media.

If you walk away with one useful piece of information, always ask this question: How do you know that?

Do it all with a healthy skepticism.  Every story you agree with isn’t necessarily so.

Every story you disagree with is not necessarily biased either. Be open to views you don’t agree with.

Verify, verify, verify. And keep honing your skills.

Further reading:

2) Design Solutions for Fake News (160 page document)

3) Check the Facts: Increasing our Media Literacy in the Age of Fake News

Becoming an active consumer and participant in media is key. Even on social networks,

where fake news and information proliferate and spread like a virus, there are steps we can take

to make sure we don’t fall victim to or, worse, become a perpetuator of the fake-news cycle.

Question Everything

As Gillmor notes, even the best and most ethical journalists make factual mistakes.

Fact-check on your own. Use Google and do smart searches.

Enclosing your search terms in quotations—that is, searching for pizzagate rumors”

as opposed to just pizzagate rumors—will yield you better results.

Pay Close Attention to the Source

We are used to getting our news from sites like The Root, the New York Times and the Washington Post,

but the popularity of Facebook, and the ability to easily share information on the platform with a click of a button,

has led to the proliferation of fake-news sites with the main goal of getting page clicks and views.

The information contained in them may not necessarily be harmful, but it is false nonetheless,

and a good eye for identifying a fake-news site will serve everyone in the long run.

Look at the URL of a site. is the real site of the tabloid, but is not.

It baits people with its realistic-looking URL; most think it is the actual site,

and it uses the similar-looking URL for just that reason—to trick people into thinking it’s real.

Scroll to the Bottom of the Page and See if the Site Notes Itself as Satire

Many of these so-called fake-news sites actually label themselves as satire sites.

If you read a story that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Scroll to the bottom of the page and see if there is a note indicating that the site is a satire website.

That will be your clue not to share the story with others who may believe it.

Are There Quotes in the Story?

Most fake-news articles won’t have legitimate quotes in the story,

and if they do, the sources of those quotes will be either vague or questionable.

A reputable article will not only name the source of the quote but will give you information about the source that legitimizes their credibility on the topic.

For instance, “‘The suspects were arrested after the shooting,’ John Doe, chief of the ABC Police Department, said.”

If you can’t Google a source and find out information about that person, chances are that he or she,

along with the quote and the article it is contained in, is fake.

Google All Information in Memes and Twitter Retweets

This cannot be stressed enough. A lot of times, people will reshare false information

without verifying it simply because someone they trust shared it.

A good example of this is a recent tweet that incorrectly identified Daryl Davis as the first African-American member

of the Ku Klux Klan. At the time of this writing, the tweet had been shared more than 3,000 times and had more than 2,000 likes.

Even as people responded to the tweet and called out its inaccuracy, it continued to be shared as fact.

Understand the Way People Use Media to Persuade and Manipulate

This is another concept brought up in Mediactive that is a truism about all media.

There’s a reason behind every story or idea that is shared on the internet. When reading, ask yourself why.

Why is this information being shared? Who stands to gain from this? What could be the motive behind it?

Applying basic critical-thinking skills can help us discern what is real and what may just be hyperbole.

Know that there are certain media rumors that are simply not true, no matter how many times they are shared on the internet.

See Also

1.    Maintain, Don’t Gain, This Holiday Season With These 5 Quick Tips
2.    Reading Racism: Don’t Let Books Become Victims of Our Discourse on Race
3.    Loving: Interracial Relationships in the Trump Era
4.    Is My Natural Hair Holding Back My Career?

This one is free. The Willie Lynch letter is not real. Bill Cosby was not about to buy NBC.

There was no conspiracy to keep people from seeing The Birth of a Nation.

Black Friday is not an extension of the day all slaves went on sale for half price, etc.

Be your own judge. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Question it. Research it. But by all means, be an active consumer and participant in media. We will all be better for it.

4) Proof that the world will end tomorrow! (Not really, but you clicked) Newsela Articles Recommended by David Coleman

5) Fake News Expert On How False Stories Spread And Why People Believe Them (Podcast)

6) Learning Activity Idea. “get the class into pairs so that at least one member of each pair has a Facebook account.

Click on the first three "news" stories posted on that person's feed and, as a pair,

decide if the story is lies, humor, opinion, limited but real (ex: outdated info, live update on an ongoing event...),

or full reporting (verified sources, inclusion of context...). Make use of other websites as needed to check for hoaxes,

get verification, check author's publishing history, etc. Each pair prepares a report including their stories, their verdicts,

and their justification of their verdicts. Optional: post your verdict in the comments section for the post.

Rachel Baron, posted on LINCS December 19, 2016  at:

7) Ten Questions for Fake News Detection

8)  Sorting out Trustworthy from Untrustworthy Websites

“a teacher can provide students with links to both real and fake sites and give them a checklist to fill out for each site,

and then have students decide which one is more trustworthy and why. Great sites for this activity are

The Tree Octopus and All About Explorers. Sample questions can come from these sites….

A site that is a real stumper is This fake information site even has its own Snopes page.

As students delve into more independent research that may also be more in depth and complex,

sites like and can help them sort through information they are finding

to see whether what they are reading is true. This is also a good time to include discussion around opinion versus fact

and to have students analyze articles for bias. For example,

compare “Russian hacking and the 2016 election: What you need to know” (CNN) with

The big problem isn’t that the Russian hackers tried to influence our election—it’s more that we let them” (Salon). 

Too many opinion articles disguise themselves as news or are improperly shared and quoted as news.

Luckily, sometimes a simple read of a URL will reveal “/opinion/,” which is a sure bet that what you are reading is biased.”

From:  “Battling Fake News in the Classroom,” an  Edutopia article by Mary Beth Hertz, December 21, 2016


Thank you, David, for this rich list of resources. I look forward to exploring them further and sharing them with our staff. The NPR broadcasts on Fake News have emphasized the lack of veracity in stories found on common sources. It's exciting that people are aware of this issue, the impact it is having on our world, and questioning the accuracy of information going forward. You have now provided us with many opportunities to assist others to expand their thinking by exercising critical thinking skills. Much appreciated!

You're welcome Leslie. I hope you and others here find the list useful.

I learned today about a new free course on news literacy, a Coursera MOOC, that might interest you and others here. I am thinking about signing up myself. Every day I am more convinced that our nation, our democracy, may depend on how seriously educators at all levels take helping students to distinguish facts and truth from opinions and lies, and to quickly recognize and condemn deliberate misinformation.

David J. Rosen


Hello colleagues, Thanks to everyone for sharing resources on real vs fake information and news. And, David, a special thank you to you for collecting and organizing all of these instructional resources for us. It is so helpful to have everything pulled together in one place like this.

It would be great to hear how teachers are addressing this hot button issue in the classroom. What can you tell us, teachers? I'm wondering if teachers have been dealing with any specific controversies in the days since the election.

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, College and Career Standards CoP

I want to add a link to a TED article, "How to read the news like a scientist," to this rich strand of discussion. The author, a scientist, offers and describes these six tips in reading the news that scientists often use:

1. Cultivate your skepticism.

2. Find out who is making the claim.

3. Watch out for the halo effect.

4. Look at the evidence.

5. Beware of the tendency to cherry-pick information.

6. Recognize the difference between correlation and causation.

Which ones would you -- and/or your students -- find most important?

David J. Rosen

I came across this article, Can Librarians Help Solve the Fake News Problem? From the article, " In recognition of a dynamic and often unpredictable information landscape and a rapidly changing higher education environment in which students are often creators of new knowledge rather than just consumers of information, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) launched its Framework for Literacy for Higher Education.  The framework recognizes that information literacy is too nuanced to be conceived of as a treasure hunt in which information resources neatly divide into binary categories of “good” and “bad.”

I hope you find this resource helpful. 


I recently learned about the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE).  NAMLE is a free, membership-based community of educators focused on sharing resources supporting greater media literacy across the lifespan.  NAMLE members: 

  • Get access to NAMLE’s newsletters that are chock full of new resources, curriculum, opportunities and events related to media literacy education
  • Connect and network with other members doing work in media literacy education
  • Participate in Media Literacy Week
  • Submit articles to the Journal of Media Literacy Education
  • Attend our biennial conference

NAMLE defines media literacy as "the ability to ACCESSANALYZEEVALUATECREATE, and ACT using all forms of communication".  NAMLE recognizes that “media literacy” is often used interchangeably with other terms related to media and media technologies. To clarify, NAMLE offers further definitions to help support media literacy across communities, and welcomes input from visitors to their web site.


Mike Cruse

Career Pathways and Disabilities and Equitable Outcomes Moderator 

What a discussion thread! I admittedly need to sift through what's been shared because there are a lot of things that are worth exploring.

Here are a couple of sites that I know of that provide game based learning aimed at helping students decipher between fake and real news (I apologize if these have already been mentioned within the thread): 

iCivics – Founded by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, this site has a series of game focused on civics related topics, one of which is "Newsfeed Defenders," where the learner is responsible for maintaining a social media community free from biased or false content. In the process, learners learn to evaluate newsfeed content for accuracy, transparency, trustworthiness (source), and impartiality. 

Checkology – From the News Literacy Project, Checkology is a free resource (with freemium benefits) that covers topics such as understanding how to recognize branded content, recognizing bias, understanding how information is personalized through algorithms, analyzing arguments and evidence, and deciphering misinformation. 

Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) also has some amazing tools available for evaluating content (both historical and current). Included within their resources is Civics Online Reasoning, which is a series of assessments that can be used to check students' ability to evaluate information with which we are bombarded online. Assessments include comparing websites, evaluating Wikipedia, analyzing claims on social media (YouTube, Twitter), and a bunch more. 

This is a topic CrowdED Learning is looking to add to our list of skill directories. I'm going to look through what's been provided here and gather what might be good to include in an "Information Literacy" directory. Shoot me a note (or reply to this post) if you can think of others. Great stuff!!!!

Great article, David! Media Wise in Canada has been doing a great job for over two decades now :)

Also timely! US Media Literacy Week (taking a page of Canada's book) is actually in a couple weeks. I wonder if anyone is doing anything in particular in recognition of this week? 

Hello Colleagues,

"Deepfakes": How to teach students about a world in which things are not as they appear to be.  We have all heard about "fake news" and claims that something is "fake news" when the news is accurately portrayed. In this discussion thread that began in 2016 we have several good pieces of advice for teachers wrestling with this teaching and learning issue.  I wonder if you as an instructor, teacher, tutor, or program manager, have developed an approach to help adult learners, including New Americans, quickly sort out what is true from what has been created to appear to be true, but is false. I also wonder if your approach could be adapted now to help adult learners identify "Deepfake" videos or audio files.

This WBUR Public Radio station news article, "President Nixon Never Actually Gave This Apollo 11 Disaster Speech. MIT Brought It To Life To Illustrate Power Of Deepfakes," about an MIT-engineered false video, will help you understand what a "Deepfake" is, and how one of them has been made. Have you seen other Deepfakes? How do you help students to sort out compelling, entirely false videos from true film and video? Even in true film and video documentaries, of course, there is likely to be a point of view or bias. How do we help adult learners identify phony media, honest media with a point of view or bias, and authentic, video-factual unbiased and unedited footage? Are you working on this challenge? If so tell us what you have developed, how it appears to be working for your students, and let's share strategies!

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups



Hello colleagues,

News literacy week begins January 27th.  Literacy (i.e. basic reading and writing) can of course be more than reading and writing.  News literacy itself has some kindred literacy metaphor terms such as information literacy and media literacy. I have recently counted ten more literacy metaphors in the media, including: algorithm literacy, climate literacy, data literacy, death literacy, digital literacy, digital health literacy, financial literacy, food literacy, health literacy, and visual literacy. Have I missed any?

Not wishing to disparage any of these terms, they are metaphors, often a way to emphasize a kind of beginning or basic level learning, but not an important class of reading and writing. For me, some are more important than others, such as climate literacy, digital literacy, health literacy and news literacy, but other people may find other literacy metaphors equally or more important.

Concerning news literacy, I would love to know:

  • How you are teaching news literacy now
  • What news literacy issues and needs your students have
  • What news literacy curricula or lessons you and your students have found especially helpful
  • What changes you or they have seen after you have taught news literacy, and
  • What (new? urgent?) reasons you may have found in the last couple of years for teaching news literacy

David J. Rosen


Hello Colleagues,

This Feb 5, 2020 Washington Post article, News literacy lessons: How a pandemic of misinformation about coronavirus has far outpaced the disease’s spread is an important read for you, and has important information for your students. I quote it extensively below.

The following material comes from the project’s newsletter, the Sift, which takes the most recent viral rumors, conspiracy theories, hoaxes and journalistic ethics issues and turns them into timely lessons with discussion prompts and links. The Sift, which publishes weekly during the school year, has more than 10,000 subscribers, most of them educators.

Here are lessons from the Feb. 3 edition of the Sift, as provided by the News Literacy Project.

Misinformation pandemic

As rapidly as the coronavirus has spread in recent weeks, viral misinformation about the disease has far outpaced it, reaching millions of people on every continent even more quickly.

Dozens of photos and videos — of masked medical personnel and of people collapsing, being loaded into ambulances, lying in the street, and waiting in quarantine — have rocketed across social media along with dangerous “cures,” conspiracy theories, more conspiracy theories, hoaxes about the spread of the virus in schools, false figures for cases and deaths, faked video of “infected” blood, and disinformation from Chinese government sources.

In short, while the outbreak itself is close to being classified as a pandemic, the misinformation about the 2019 novel coronavirus has achieved that status many times over.

As worrisome as this is, coronavirus misinformation patterns can be used as a case study with students. Just as epidemiologists can glean valuable insights from outbreaks of disease, students can analyze the plethora of coronavirus rumors to refine their understanding of why and how falsehoods spread.

The two phenomena share some factors. As Charles Seife, a journalism professor at New York University, points out in the opening chapter of his 2014 book “Virtual Unreality,” the three epidemiological factors that determine how a disease spreads — transmissibility, persistence and interconnectedness — can also be used to explain the ways misinformation spreads online.

Digital information is highly transmissible (easy to replicate) and highly persistent (easy to store and search for) — and it circulates in the most interconnected information environment the world has ever known.

But coronavirus rumors and other types of alarming medical misinformation have a specific potential for virality because they tap into extremely strong emotions. Rumors about infectious diseases incite fear, causing people to react emotionally and share those rumors with loved ones out of a strong desire to protect them. Medical information is also highly specialized, which increases the likelihood that people — perhaps especially conspiracy theorists — will misunderstand information they have dug up themselves (such as the results of a mock pandemic exercise, or old patents for different strains of the coronavirus).

Finally, while photos and video related to many topics are easy to persuasively present in false contexts, images and footage of people suffering from medical conditions are among the easiest to shift to new (and false) contexts.

Helping adult learners distinguish between fact-based information by reputable news sources, and widespread misinformation about the coronavirus is both an opportunity to provide important information and for news literacy instruction. If you create, or have created, a lesson plan about this that you can share, please let us know. That might help others to raise these issues with their students and help them distinguish authentic news from misinformation. .   David J. Rosen