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Civic reasoning in the time of a sophisticated internet.


We have often discussed the importance of teaching students about fake news, but I would like to take that conversation one step further with a discussion about civic reasoning.  I had the opportunity to read, The Challenge That’s Bigger Than Fake News and found the beginning statement powerful. “Determining whose behind information and whether its worthy of trust is more complex than a true false dichotomy.”

How many of us have started to teach students how to evaluate websites using the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopi. Originally, this was a great resource – and giving students a checklist to use to identify if a website was fake or real was all that was needed. But in 2017, the internet is a much more sophisticated place and new instructional strategies are needed. Websites are designed and targeted. Search engine optimization means a website or resource will come to the top of a search list based on algorithms – and we also need to teach click restraint. (Having students read the snippets, or short sentences, under each website before clicking on it.) Because of SEO, the first clicks on a search really matter.

We also need to teach students how to assess civic reasoning, evaluate evidence, and seek additional resources.

  • Assessments of civic reasoning - Students need to learn how to identify who is behind the information presented. This requires lateral reading -or investigate the website from other internet sites.
  • Evaluate evidence - many websites invite comments. These ‘virtual town halls’ have people sharing a great deal of information and it’s important to know how to investigate and research the information being shared.
  • Seeking additional sources  - see if more than one site provides the same type of information or data.

How do you teach media literacy? Will this discussion change some of your ideas about evaluating resources? 

Kathy Tracey