Are you teaching media literacy as part of your Adult Basic Education or ESL program? LINCS is seeking to expand knowledge and resources around media literacy education for adult learners, and we need your help.
LINCS and The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) are collaborating on a webinar and panel discussion later this year, focusing on media literacy for adult educators. NAMLE's mission defines media literacy education as help[ing] individuals of all ages develop habits of inquiry and skills of expression needed to become critical thinkers, effective communications and active citizens in a world where mass media, popular culture and digital technologies play an important role for individuals and society.
I invite you to contact me to learn about plans for our webinar and panel discussion, and to see how you can be involved in shaping the conversation. Ideas are welcome in this thread, or you can reach out to me via email at the address listed below.
Thank you for this information, Mike. I am very interested in learning more about media literacy in adult education.
Thank you, Jeri. It's great to hear that there is some interest in the topic. I wonder if you, and others, have thoughts on different sub-topics that would be most interesting to your staff and learners? Below is a list of potential sub-topics - by no means exhaustive - for members to think about. Please let us know if you have preferred sub-topics, and feel free to include any not on this list.
- Civic participation media: voting rights, registration issues, volunteerism, etc.
- Banking and financial media: account types, financial products, etc.
- Health and wellness media: insurance, pharmaceuticals, screenings, nutrition, etc.
- Legal media: U.S. court system, attorney representation, etc.
This is a new topic for me. I wonder what jobs are available in the field. I look forward to learning more about media literacy and how we can prepare our students to develop skills in this area, and maybe prepare for future employment in the world of media.
Thank you for this, Michael. My students and I enjoyed exploring these topics this past year. Newsela was a good resource, because I had some flexibility in adapting the vocabulary level for different students which allowed everyone in class to access shared content for seminar conversations and partner activities. I would add work/workplace trends and local environmental/weather trends as two additional possible topics.
(1st time posting)
Hi, Megan -
It's great to hear a little about your experience using Newsela in your classes, and how the ability to adapt vocabulary levels was an entry point for providing access to all of your learners. I'm interested in your suggested topics on 'workplace trends' and 'local environmental/weather trends'. Would tell us more about what you see from your perspective relating to your learners' needs around understanding media in these two areas?
Thanks for your response! In answer to your question, as I understand it, I found students were interested in learning about what the high need areas were going to be/are already for workers. We looked at some really good PEW and census graphs and talked about skills that various jobs might need in the future. We talked about what career preparation might/can look like. As to environment and weather it was interesting to hear from students about local environmental and weather challenges in their countries of birth and it was also interesting to talk about the intersections between the environment and community development and planning in the areas of transportation for example. As I write, these seem like such obvious things---sorry not to be able to offer greater insight.
Thanks for sharing more about your work, Megan. I really like that you've incorporated PEW Research and Census Data into your work on career exploration. I wonder if these are resources you found online? If so, it would be great to see the links, and consider how they might be part of a conversation on media literacy education.
The topic of weather is another area that I think has a lot of potential for discussing media literacy, especially around the language of climate change. I really like that you've brought in weather as a topic that your learners can related back to their countries of birth. This accesses their prior knowledge, and supports the idea of learners being the experts about a topic. It's also something everyone can relate to, and is a great way to build relevant vocabulary. Have others used weather and climate as topics to look at media literacy in their classes?
Here are a couple of links.
This is a general link for PEW. You can choose among many things. They have a newsletter with interesting stats and good graphics.
The census has tons of different data points. I've liked using "Statistics in Schools" and "Stats for Stories".
Hi, Megan -
Thank you for sharing these links with us. These are great resources for finding reliable data that can be used in lessons, or by students in researching for class projects.
I have used Readworks.org for various topics, including climate and weather. Sometimes, we do the reading as a class via projected image on a whiteboard, or use laptops. Other times it's assigned for hw. With Readworks you create class lists for each class you teach, tailor articles/reading assignments, and even custom learning support for individual students (i.e. directions given in native language). Students log into the class, select their assignment, and do comprehension questions (multiple choice and free written answers). Their work is automatically recorded for teacher review and comment.
YouTube videos are also a good resource for supplementing lessons and providing practice conversations on "real life" situations (many topics are available, including weather).
For example, this summer semester our theme was "Vacations." One of our videos was practicing conversation skills for airports and traveling on a plane. We also talked about vacation disasters caused by bad weather. The students loved seeing other people modeling things they wanted to do.
YouTube videos can be accessed by connecting a cell phone to a Lightning Adapter which connects to the classroom projector and internet. Students can also review the videos at home using their cell phones or other technology. .
I wonder if you think Newsela articles, because with them a teacher can control the vocabulary level, might be a way that lower-level readers could participate in a media literacy project like the one I proposed in this discussion today. If so, what would such a project look like for your class(es)?
David J. Rosen
I am still thinking about your question---it's wide-ranging.
I would be very interested in civic participation media and banking and financial media. These are areas our teachers are currently focusing on in ABE classes. Thank you for offering to delve a little deeper into these topics. It should be a learning experience for us all!
Good morning. I would be curious to know if the differences between digital literacy and media literacy will be presented.
Thank you, Jamie, for your question. The short answer is yes, we will be talking about what media literacy is, and what it is not. The terms media literacy and digital literacy are sometimes used interchangeably. It's important to note that while they are related, they are different. The focus of this discussion will be on what is media literacy, and how it can be included in adult education classrooms.
Career Pathways Moderator
At SXSW Edu over the last few years, Media Literacy has been a popular topic. Danah Boyd gave a keynote in 2018 that continues to resonate and cause controversy. Here's a link to her keynote: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0I7FVyQCjNg&list=PLeLlOkN8HqBgMLjryLfyfbir40bQl8Zz4&index=2&t=1472s.
Hi, Nell -
Thanks for sharing this video of Danah Boyd's keynote at SXSW Edu. It's a real thought piece on the role of media in our collective culture, and the need for media literacy. I encourage other members to take the time to watch it, especially if you're not quite sure what the term 'media literacy' means. Danah pulls examples from contemporary media to illustrate her points, and at the 37:20 minute mark begins to address what educators can do to address the need for more media literacy education.
What resonates with you? Where do you see the greatest need for media literacy education in the field of adult education? I hope you will take the time to listen, reflect, and share your thoughts with us.
Career Pathways Moderator
Nell, This was a super interesting talk. Boyd is not at all optimistic about current approaches to address media literacy in classrooms. Would love to hear what members think about her talk.
Cheers, Susan Finn Miller
Moderator, Adult English Language Acquisition and Teaching & Learning CoP
Just this weekend an article from the University of Cambridge came to my attention about a game that has the player take on the role of a creator of fake news in order to influence people. I haven't had a chance to try it out with students yet but I am planning to do so.
You mentioned Civic Participation Media. One thing that is easy to neglect in any civics instruction is vocabulary. Sometimes we take for granted that our students know where the terms liberal, conservative, moderate, republican, democrat, right wing, left wing, etc. fit on the political spectrum. I do a lesson with political cartoons and have found that I get more participation/understanding when I spend some time first explaining these ideas essentially providing the language of the conversation.
Thanks for your post drawing our attention to this article and game. I'll be curious to hear how you incorporate the game into your teaching students. If you can provide us with more context for your learners, and the course, that would be very helpful.
I appreciate what you've said about the need for vocabulary instruction around terms relevant to civic participation. I agree vocabulary in context is key, even for native born learners who may have completed high school. You describe, "providing the language of the conversation", which is a great way of explaining the groundwork for introducing political concepts, and modeling what terms mean for your learners. If you're able to share more about the structure of your lesson using political cartoons, that would be fantastic to hear!
To start, I simply ask the class about any terms or words they think they know when hearing anything about politics. I then draw a line and place words on it with how they equate. Think number line with 0 replaced by central and right wing to the right and left wing to the left. I then place the various term where they land on that graph, including symbols like the donkey and elephant, and discuss what the terms mean in a general sense, i.e. liberal tends to push change and conservative tends to favor the status quo.
Once the language is set up we pull up some political cartoons. I tend to pull from Gocomics.com directly from the web site on the smart board. We begin with simply describing the image they see. Once that is done we start picking apart what is being said - What is the issue? What does the artist/author thing about that issue? Depending on the level of students present (my classes run open entry so my student levels track all over on any given day) we can then delve into some of the vocabulary - is the view presented liberal or conservative, etc.? It also opens up a good discussion on bias by asking questions like do you think this author likes the president? followed up with the infamous teacher question, why? In an hour long session we can get through three or four cartoons.
Hi, David -
Thanks for responding with how you prepare your students to be able to engage in discussions about political cartoons. Using the "number line", and including both words and symbols (donkeys and elephants) to represent the spectrum of liberal and conservative thinking is a simple, yet powerful tool to help put our political system into perspective. It also seems very accessible for a spectrum of learners, which it sounds like you have in your classes. I wonder if, and how, you set guidelines for your learners' discussions to encourage healthy political discourse with others who may have differing political views? This is of course good teaching practice in general, but may require an extra reminder when wading into political cartoons and the resulting discussions around them.
"I wonder if, and how, you set guidelines for your learners' discussions to encourage healthy political discourse with others who may have differing political views? This is of course good teaching practice in general, but may require an extra reminder when wading into political cartoons and the resulting discussions around them."
This is absolutely a consideration. I have a couple of things helping me in this regard. First, my classes are small. This makes it easier to manage the discussion and moderate. Second, I spend a lot of time during reading instruction in general asking for opinions so the students are already practicing class discussion skills. Some times it's a simple pole question - "raise your hand if you think Biff will take the job" Other times it's a bit deeper - "Why do you think Sally jumped in the lake?" The point being that if and when thornier issues pop up, norms are already in place for listening to and sharing views and opinions. We aren't jumping straight in to the deep end of the pool.
Beyond that, when I do the terms introduction I stress that there is nothing inherently bad about being liberal or conservative and that our government works best when both forces are working together and balancing each other out. I do this in an attempt to take out the sting of using such terms as an insult. I also make sure to present a mix of artists/authors from both sides so that students get to see different views. In order to accomplish this I do spent a good amount of planning time following various artists so that I have a good idea of what his or her general slant is.
During class I try to make the discussion itself more towards the clinical side. Rather than ask "What do you think of this cartoon", I'll ask "What do you think the artist feels about this issue?" or "Do you think this author is conservative or liberal?" Basically I focus on reading and understanding what the image is talking about, practicing the political terms, and steer away from right or wrong.
On the occasion where a discussion of an issue raised starts up I act as neutral moderator and act to make sure everybody gets a chance to voice their thoughts and nobody gets attacked.
David Reynolds, and others who are interested in media literacy fact checker games, this Poynter article, Want to be a better fact-checker? Play a game suggests Get Bad News and several other media literacy games to consider. If you try any of these with your adult learners, let us know which ones seem most engaging and why.
David J. Rosen
The Rand Corporation has published a new report (downloadable for free) called "Exploring Media Literacy Education as a Tool for Mitigating Truth Decay". I suggest that this be part of the discussion. Here are a few highlights of the Media Literacy (ML) report:
- Truth Decay — the diminishing role that facts, data, and analysis play in political and civil discourse — appears to result, in part, from an increasingly complex information ecosystem. Technology, in particular, offers continual access to information of varying quality and credibility, information that can blur the line between fact-based evidence and opinion. Not everyone is equipped with the skills necessary to navigate such uncertain terrain. The purpose of this report is to describe the field of media literacy (ML) education and the ways in which ML education can counter Truth Decay by changing how participants consume, create, and share information.
- Central to ML is the notion that all media are constructed for a purpose and contain embedded biases or filters. ML education teaches participants to consider
the implications of message construction from numerous angles, such as how the motivations of those disseminating information could influence content selection and framing and how different kinds of media and other technologies affect the nature of communication.
- Some examples of ML competencies relevant to this specific application are the abilities to identify and access information needed to inform decisions and behaviors; evaluate the reliability and credibility of authors, sources, and information presented in varied forms and mediums; assess the processes used to create an informational product;synthesize information from multiple sources; and create and/or share media in a manner reflective of its credibility, with awareness of potential consequences. These competencies correspond most closely with fields of news and information literacy—disciplines at the intersection of civics, journalism, and library sciences—and do not include the full set of broader skills related to ML.
- Interviewees emphasized a tension in balancing analytical questioning and skepticism with an interest in establishing and maintaining some level of trust in credible institutions. The danger is that the analytic questioning that is core to ML could be taught or learned in a way that crosses the boundary into cynicism, damaging trust even in credible sources of information. Experts in our sample believed this problem to be avoidable.
- To be successful, ML education needs to be responsive to participants’ needs, backgrounds, and experiences, particularly in terms of the contexts in which ML is taught, the examples used, and the medium through which competencies are demonstrated and practiced. Experts emphasized that the most effective ML strategies are those that reach participants in a format and context with which they are familiar and comfortable.
In the report appendix the authors provide a free, downloadable spreadsheet database of Media Literacy offerings available to the public. Some of these could be useful to adult basic skills teachers . zip file
David J. Rosen
Thank you for sharing the Media Literacy Report. I would like to read it. I think it highlights some of the important reasons why digital literacy is vital. It is not enough to simply find and consume digital content as if it is value-free. The ability to critically evaluate and use digital content is important for adult learners.
Hi, Bayo -
Thanks for your first LINCS post! The report gives a lot of information to think about in relation to media literacy and digital citizenship. I'll be interested in hear your thoughts once you've had a chance to digest some of it. I'm also interested in you're currently teaching adult learners to 'evaluate and use digital content'? If so, would you share with us more what approach you're taking in your class?
I look forward to learning more with you.
This is an excellent resource, thanks for sharing it, David. You mention the spreadsheet database of media literacy offerings in the appendix, which is a treasure trove of resources for learning about and teaching media literacy. I agree, adult educators could benefit from investigating how to incorporate media literacy into their programs. I have used the Newseum's Media Literacy Booster Pack, which provides free access to online learning, videos, and lesson plans that easily translate to a wide audience of learners.
NewseumED - Media Literacy Booster Pack - https://newseumed.org/collection/media-literacy-booster-pack/
I am interested in hearing more about what others may have found useful, or are interested in trying in their programs. Please feel free to share here, or email me directly.
Hello Mike and others,
My guess is that news media will be a main focus of this conversation. Perhaps there is a collection somewhere of actual news articles that we could review as part of this discussion. In any case, here's a link to one news article, "Raw Data: One-Third of Students Graduate From Community College," that might be of high interest for review by Career Pathways members, and their HSE or post-secondary preparation, or community college level students.
David J. Rosen
Thanks for sharing this suggestion and article, David. I’m curious to hear more about the type of article reviews that you’re envisioning. This piece is definitely relevant to many adult learners, educators, program managers, and industry partners. At least one other member has suggested the topic of media literacy around workforce training, education and employment. I’m open to hearing more ideas for what sub-topics members want to explore around career pathways, and ideas for the types of activities that would be most valuable for helping explore media literacy in adult education classes.
You wrote, "I’m curious to hear more about the type of article reviews that you’re envisioning. This piece is definitely relevant to many adult learners, educators, program managers, and industry partners."
Our choice of articles might begin, as you have suggested, with relevance. Articles about career pathways seem relevant to this group. I wonder what other kinds of articles those who plan to join this discussion might like to read and assess.
The way to increase our own media literacy skills, as well as adult learners' media literacy skills, is to review articles that we want to read, that have high interest for us. We might assess them from the perspective, for example, of: the degree of confidence we can have in their purported facts and evidence, and our understanding of their point of view or bias. We may disagree about the thesis of an article or its point of view, but that should not be our focus in this discussion. We might also disagree about what makes the article credible, regardless of whether or not we agree with its thesis. Credibility should be our focus. Ultimately we are asking: is this an article I should take seriously, even if it challenges my current beliefs? If so, why? Are the facts and evidence credible? Are the sources credible? Is it based on well-recognized research? Are the arguments based on the trustworthy evidence or not? We can also look at whether it's news or opinion, and what the author's point of view or bias might be. I am sure there are other criteria we should consider. What are they?
In a recent conversation about an article on evidence-based adult basic skills research, a researcher colleague commented that the article appeared to look at evidence to build its analysis, was not one that used evidence selectively to support a thesis. I thought that was a useful distinction that might also apply to media literacy: does the author start with the research, facts, evidence, or findings, or does s/he select the evidence to support an opinion? I am not suggesting that editorials are "fake news" but that they are opinion, not news; well-argued opinions, of course, also need to be supported by good evidence
David J. Rosen
Thanks, David, for expanding on your idea. I agree with what you've said, and think it would be a valuable format for us to use for an activity and/or panel discussion. One of the keys for me in what you wrote was that the articles should be ones that members want to read. To that end, I hope members will make suggestions about articles that they might use to model applying the lens of media literacy education in their classes. These can be topics related to career pathways, or not. The topic itself is open; the key is interest and relevance to members and their learners.
Hello Mike and others,
As you will see from my post today about project-based learning and media literacy, I believe that whatever issue or topic is chosen by a class, it needs to be something that adult learners in the class care about. I recommend a starter list of topics that we could generate from this discussion thread or in the ML discussion later this year, but that teachers let the students vote on the topic they want. The teacher could suggest some criteria for the students to consider, such as:
- Do you care about the issue or topic and, if so, why? How does this connect to your own life?
- Do you want to learn more about this issue or topic? If so how important is this issue to you? "Extremely important" or "Important".
- Is this topic in the news? Have there been many articles written about it?
- Have you seen some news articles about the topic that you think might not be based on facts?
What other criteria would you (anyone reading this) suggest?
What topics do you think should be on a starter list?
David J. Rosen
Hello LINCS colleagues,
Upcoming in the Career Pathways group is a webinar and panel discussion on media literacy. A project-based approach to media literacy might be useful for some teachers, having a group of students who have fairly good English reading skills create a collection of articles for other students on an important and debatable issue, a collection that includes reputable articles with widely-varying points of view. The articles collection could then be used by other students for a study circle on the issue or topic.
A study circle is a small group of people who come together to learn about an important issue or topic: perhaps to have their thinking challenged; or just to learn about the topic and the range of points of view about it and to form their own opinion; or to form opinions, and take action, an action study group. Study groups are not new in the U.S. or in other countries. They have roots in the late 19th century American Chatauquas movement that was an early non-formal adult education model. Study circles have been a strong part of the adult education system in Sweden, for example, and perhaps in other countries. A recent variation on study circles is the "learning circle," a blended learning model that integrates weekly face-to-face meetings with an online course, curriculum or other online learning resources. Study circles got a lot of attention in the last two decades of the 20th century, with free materials and facilitator training provided by the National Issues Forum, including plain language versions of the articles for adult new readers, and by the Study Circles Resource Center, which has become Everyday Democracy.
As you may know, there was recently a terrific discussion in the LINCS Career Pathways group on the Opioid epidemic in the U.S. You can read the summary of the discussion here. Because the issue is so important, affects so many lives, has even reduced American life expectancy, there are many web-based articles on the Opioid Crisis. One example is a free Flipboard collection entitled the Opioid Epidemic. Among the articles in that collection may be reputable and reliable ones, and not-as-reputable or reliable articles. You and your students would be the judge. Together you would develop criteria for "reputable and reliable" articles, probably add to or modify the criteria after reading several articles and judging them. You could add other articles to the mix, of course, some of which you know to be unreliable, perhaps even fake (i.e. completely false and designed to attract viewers to make profit for the writer). You could vary the project design by first selecting articles from several sources yourself and putting together an initial collection for your students' review and selection. The key to the success of this activity is your students' wrestling with what is reputable reporting, what the difference is between editorial and news, and how to spot bias in a supposed objective news article. The refined collection on the issue, with articles from diverse points of view, could then be used in a study circle.
Perhaps you are thinking about how a media literacy project like this relates to career pathways, to critical reading skills, to numeracy and mathematics, or to science. If so, terrific! Share your thoughts here about how you could use a media literacy project like this with your students, and how a study circle, or learning circle, might work in your teaching and learning setting. Of course, a different issue might appeal more to your students. That's fine.
Let's hear your thoughts.
David J. Rosen
I would like to recommend a research study by Sam Wineburg and Sarah McGrew and an article in Education Week summarizing the study, which we had students read as part of our instruction on media literacy. The study and article are interesting because they contrast the performance of college students (from Stanford), history professors, and professional fact checkers as they evaluated the credibility of online sources. The students were wrong half the time, the history professors did somewhat better, and fact checkers got everything right. The key strategy was what they call ‘lateral reading’, that is going elsewhere on the internet to check on the credibility of the source and author before even reading the site itself. We used that as the basis of a strategy for students to check credibility of sources by ‘jumping off’ the site to check on the author and source before tackling the document itself. The article in Education Week is quite accessible and clear. This is all part of our curriculum for developmental reading/writing in community colleges, Supporting Strategic Writers. Here are the links:
Wineburg, S. & McGrew, S. (2016, November 1). Why students can’t Google their way to the truth. Education Week. Retrieved from www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/11/02/why-students-cant-google-their-way-to.html.
Wineburg, S., & McGrew, S. (2017). Lateral Reading: Reading Less and Learning More When Evaluating Digital Information. Retrieved from: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3048994 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3048994
Charles, Thank you for this fascinating post. The research findings by Wineburg and McGrew seem especially important since it shows that the checklists that are often used to teach students how to assess the credibility of web material are not so useful. Instead, as you point out in your post, following the practices of professional "fact checkers" seems like the way to go.
As the researchers note in the Ed Week article, (1) vertical reading is less effective than "lateral reading." Instead of using time to read information "vertically" on a site, fact checkers quickly opened additional tabs to search out information about the site to determine its credibility. This step enabled the fact checkers to quickly switch back and forth between the original site and the additional sites to check for credibility.
(2) Fact checkers ignored the "About us" section of the website since this information can easily be duplicitous.
(3) Fact checkers were careful when reading through search results, recognizing that the first items are often not the most trustworthy. Instead they "mine URLs and abstracts for clues." In fact, they routinely scanned all the way down the search results page before choosing a link to click on.
These seem like worthwhile steps to include in any lesson focused on teaching media literacy skills.
Cheers, Susan Finn Miller
Moderator, Teaching & Learning CoP
Thank you, Susan, for elaborating on the contents of the article. The point about mining the search results for clues to the credibility of sources is important. Many of our students are unaware that Google's algorithms (and other search engines) favor ads, or 'sponsored sites', rather than accurate information.
We have found that the Ed Week article is accessible to our students and provides a framework for rich discussion. They like the idea that we are teaching them something that Stanford students didn't know. Checking the author and source is an important first step determining credibility and finding bias. Students then need instruction in where to look to check those authors and sources; that's also part of the knowledge base of fact checkers. And they need to learn that even trustworthy sources publish both news and opinion pieces.
One problem in teaching media literacy is that many students have learned to distrust mainstream media. So along with teaching them to be critical about sources, it is equally important to teach them which sources are trustworthy and why. Of course, this question is controversial.
Thank you, Charles, for both sharing this piece from EdWeek and commenting in the thread about how you've used it with your learners. The last paragraph of your comment left me with some questions for members teaching media literacy. You said, "One problem in teaching media literacy is that many students have learned to distrust mainstream media. So along with teaching them to be critical about sources, it is equally important to teach them which sources are trustworthy and why. Of course, this question is controversial".
I agree with you that many, especially younger, learners are skeptical of mainstream media, and that teaching them to be critical consumers of all media is important. You note a secondary role, "to teach them which sources are trustworthy and why". You also note that this is controversial, by which I'm assuming you mean determining for learners what is considered trustworthy, and what is not.
I wonder whether this secondary role is required for effective media literacy education? If we teach learners to critically evaluate sources, can we assume that they will apply their new critical media literacy skills to determine for themselves what is trustworthy? If not, and we also teach them which sources are trustworthy and why, how can we avoid being seen as trying to influence their critical analysis of the media? I don't know that these questions have easy answers, but I'm curious what you, and others reading these posts, think about the difference between teaching learners to be critical and instructing learners who they should trust.
You raise a good question. I meant that 'which sources are credible' is controversial; thus, what to teach students about credible sources is also controversial. We all have biases, and it is not our job to tell students which newspaper to believe. However, it is our job to inform students about how media organizations work and which types of media are more credible than others. Students should understand that established newspapers and networks have professional reporters who job it is to dig deeply to gather information from multiple sources, and editors to check that reporters have sufficient evidence behind their stories. They make mistakes and reflect inevitable biases, but they try to get it right. In contrast, advertizers (sponsored sites), organizations with economic interests or political goals, and political campaigns, have vested interests in pushing particular points of view, and are less trustworthy. Then there are the deliberately fake news stories. Politicians who call the maintream media 'fake news' are wrong.
Also, students need to learn to distinguish the 'news' in news sources from the 'opinions' and 'commentaries'. To take one example, the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal both publish reliable news, but have widely different perspectives on their opinion pages. Some TV and online organizations consist primarily of commentary. One can learn from commentary, but the information needs to be checked. Then there are professional journals where content is subject to peer review. And respected organizations online with established reputations.
It is complicated, and students will need to read (or view) information from multiple sources to learn for themselves how to judge the credibility of sources. A key part of that judgment involves evaluating the source (publisher) and author of the information. There is a lot more that could be said about this. Students need to learn about the types of sources and what to look for. That doesn't mean that teachers tell students which individual sources to rely on.
Thanks, Charles, for elaborating more about your work in teaching media literacy. I agree with you that, "students will need to read (or view) information from multiple sources to learn for themselves how to judge the credibility of sources". Providing a breadth of perspectives on an issue help illuminate biases for learners to see how different news sources represent 'the facts'. I also agree that at a very basic level, we can start by ensuring that learners know the differences between news pieces and Op-ed pieces.
Your comment, "[t]hat doesn't mean that teachers tell students which individual sources to rely on", is also important for educators to consider. How do you, and others reading this post, work to avoid learners saying that you are advocating a biased perspective when discussing controversial topics? I'm thinking of class formats that allow learners to share different sources and discuss perspective/bias in constructive ways. I'm interested in hearing what has worked in different classrooms, with all levels of learners.
Readers of this thread might be interested to know that there is a proposal in the 116th Congress for a Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy Act. You can follow the legislative developments of Senate Bill 2240 here.
Tireless and inspiring blogger Larry Ferlazzo has posted a two-part article entitled "We Need to Teach Our Students to Be Smart Consumers of Information" on his Edweek Blog, "Classroom Q&A With Larry Ferlazzo". Part two will be found here. Both parts are responses to this question, "What are the best ways teachers can help students combat 'fake news' and develop information-literacy skills?" Although the guests whom Ferlazzo invited to respond to the question answer in the context of teaching K-12 students, much of their advice applies to teaching adults. What in these articles do you, as an adult educator, find enlightening, confirming, or questionable? Note: I was able to directly access the second part, but needed to register (free) to read the first part.
David J. Rosen
The most recent international survey of adult skills from the OECD included a measure of “problem solving in technology-rich environments”. According to the OECD, this includes using digital technology, communication tools, and networks to acquire and evaluate information, communicate with others, and perform practical tasks—key 21st century skills that are vital to maintaining a globally competitive workforce.
The United States performed well below the international average on this measure, with an average score lower than any other participating country. In fact, not only was the U.S. average score 9 points lower than the international average, but the U.S. had a smaller percentage of adults scoring at the highest levels of proficiency and a larger percentage scoring at the bottom levels than the international average. See the link for the list or participating countries and their rankings.
While not a measure of media literacy rates, this ranking suggests the need for greater focus on supporting learners' digital and media literacy skills if we're to remain competitive in the global economy.
Stay tuned for an announcement on our first event looking at media literacy education for adult learners.
Mark your calendars for next week's interview with Dr. Alice Huguet, Associate Policy Researcher at the RAND Corporation. Alice is the lead researcher for the paper, Exploring Media Literacy Education as a Tool for Mitigating Truth Decay. Alice will help unpack current research about Media Literacy Education (MLE), how it applies to adult learners, and publicly available resources to help address misinformation, and disinformation in your classroom. We will also look at the PIAAC Literacy Framework's use-oriented conception of competency in relation to MLE, and how MLE reinforces using adult-oriented materials, in authentic contexts, for real-life purposes.I hope you are able to preview these two resources and join us for this conversation about MLE. Alice and I look forward to hearing your questions about applying this MLE research to practice in your reading and literacy programs. Best, Mike Cruse Career Pathways Moderator firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm looking forward to this discussion, Mike!
Michael....thanks for leading this great discussion on media literacy!!! There was some activity around the topic earlier the year, within which a number of quality resources were shared. It actually prompted us to develop an Information Literacy skill directory that includes a bunch of great resources along this topic. Here is a blogpost we wrote on the topic around a handful of the resources, including ProCon.org, which I think is a really important resource to mention within this conversation.
Even since then, I've been introduced to a couple great resources—Newseum (already mentioned, I believe) and a great, 12-video media literacy playlist from Crash Course (a resource that lots of adult educators like using with their students). Another one I've been introduced but haven't been able to examine closely is Mind Over Media....again, I haven't looked much at it, but it seems like a promising, collaborative site where learners can view current propaganda, analyze and discuss the techniques used, and even upload their own examples they find and explain why they think it's propaganda.
Re: helping students to become news literate, I actually had a chance to meet folks from NewsGuard just last week, which is a new member organization of the Chicago Literacy Alliance, and they have a tool that I think people might be interested in checking out. NewsGuard is actually a browser plug in that has a shield-style icon that appears on your browser. The tool provides a "nutrition-style" rating for thousands of news sites, each individually developed by journalism experts, that users can access both within their browser menu bar but even directly on newsfeeds that include articles that have been rated. I actually asked them end of last week to share some resources/overviews I could share with adult educators, and they sent along the following:
- NewsGuard News Literacy Program: https://www.newsguardtech.com/news-literacy/
- NewsGuard Guide for Educators: https://www.newsguardtech.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/NewsGuard-Guide-for-Educators.pdf
- One page intro to NewsGuard/library handout: https://www.newsguardtech.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/NewsGuard-Library-Handout.pdf
Long post short—this is definitely a hot and critically important topic! I'm looking forward to the discussion next week and hearing what folks have to share!!!!
One thing I think needs to be added to this conversation is the important step of helping learners understand how information is actually served to them in the digital world. I'm reminded of this by the $170 million fine issued to Google for violating children's privacy regulations on YouTube. Yes, learners need to be able to decipher information that is presented to them, but they also need to be aware there are a host of things happening in the background that determine WHAT information is presented to them.
DuckDuckGo has an nice set of videos that explain how Google and Facebook bid out user data (with plenty of...emphatic....though probably not hyperbolic, adjectives). The GCF Learn Free Digital Media Literacy playlist also has some great content. For those of you unfamiliar with DuckDuckGo, it's a browser extension that allows you to search in a manner that blocks data tracking, meaning it blocks advertising trackers, keeps your search history private, and gives you greater control of your personal data. It's unclear to me (I need to do more searching) as to whether it blocks tracking when using YouTube (I've seen conflicting information), but I feel it's a good start.
Does anyone use DuckDuckGo or other tools to better secure user privacy? Also, does anyone teach about data and privacy as they talk about media literacy? If so, what resources do you use?
Remember: If the software isn't being sold to you, it's likely YOU are the one being sold.....
IREX, The International Research & Exchanges Board is an international, nonprofit organization that specializes in global education and development. IREX works with partners in more than 100 countries and is presenting this series of webinars on media literacy education.
Each webinar shares practical resources and tools that educators can use to teach students the media literacy skills they need in today's world of social media newsfeeds, information overload, and biased and untrustworthy content.
Register for the webinars using the following buttons, or learn more about our U.S. media literacy program Learn to Discern for Teachers.
An Introduction to Digital Media Literacy (and Why Your Students Need It)
Thursday, December 5, 2019
5 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. EST
Do your students struggle with using critical-thinking skills when evaluating news, information, and sources? Do they need support in navigating today’s overwhelming information landscape? Join this free webinar to understand how information overload affects students, learn more about why unreliable information is a problem, and come away with a key classroom resource to help students analyze their own media consumption.
Verification 1.0: How to Help Students Make Sense of What They Read
Thursday, December 12, 2019
5 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. EST
It’s easy to tell students not to believe everything they read online, but how can we equip them to really make sense of what they read? Because so much information is available today, many of us don’t feel equipped with the necessary habits to confirm what we see online. In this session, we’ll review some of the top techniques that you can use in your classroom to help students verify text-based information.
Verification 2.0: Is Seeing Believing? How to Verify Images in the Age of Fakes
Thursday, December 19, 2019
5 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. EST
Do your students consume most of their information from Google, YouTube, and social media feeds? It’s likely those feeds are filled with images—all communicating ideas, both subtle and overt. Join this webinar to learn more about why images are so powerful, and take away practical resources (both digital tools and practical skills) that you can use in the classroom to help students learn how to verify and understand images. We’ll cover topics like reverse image search, image analysis, and common ways that images can be manipulated.
Crazy corona virus rumors are everywhere. Have any of these come up in your online classes?
Have you heard that spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will kill the new coronavirus?
Do you believe that 5G mobile networks spread COVID-19?
Do you think exposing yourself to the sun or temperatures higher than 77 degrees will prevent COVID-19?
Do you believe that you are free of the disease if you can hold your breath for at least 10 seconds without coughing?
If any of these myths resonate with you, visit the World Health Organization’s Myth Buster website for a reality check.
Here's a short article, Critical thinking key to media literacy by Tina Winstead, Director of the Huntington Memorial Library in Oneonta, NY that could help you help your students sort out truth from lies and distortions, or at least determine what is or is not plausible or based on facts.
David J. Rosen
Do your adult learners believe the rumors such as this one about the current pandemic? If so, how do you help them understand the facts and what they need to do to take care of themselves and their families?
David J. Rosen