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Media Literacy for 2018: Four Moves and a Habit

Recently, I was reading an article about language and ideas that 2017 brought into our lives.  The piece cited Mike Caulfield, director of blended and networked learning at Washington State University in Vancouver, WA.  Caulfield explains, we teach close reading and analysis of elements, like tone, where, "'fact-checkers', get to the truth of an issue in 60 to 90 seconds."  How do they do it?

He says fact-checkers read laterally moving quickly away from the original text, opening up a series of tabs in a browser to judge the credibility of its author and the sources it cites.  A paper from Stanford researchers provides support for this idea.

Caulfield has packaged this approach into what he calls, four moves and a habit. Learners can access this approach through a free online textbook published by Caulfield.

The moves are:

1. Check for previous work: Look around to see whether someone else has already fact-checked the claim or provided a synthesis of research.

2. Go upstream to the source: Most Web content is not original. Get to the original source to understand the trustworthiness of the information. Is it a reputable scientific journal? Is there an original news media account from a well-known outlet? If that is not immediately apparent, then move to step 3.

3. Read laterally: Once you get to the source of a claim, read what other people say about the source (publication, author, etc.). The truth is in the network.

4. Circle back: If you get lost or hit dead ends or find yourself going down a rabbit hole, back up and start over.

Caulfield cautions that one of the most important weapons of fact-checking comes from inside all of us, "When you feel strong emotion — happiness, anger, pride, vindication — and that emotion pushes you to share a 'fact' with others, STOP." His reasoning is that a news piece that appeals to our emotions is designed to short-circuit our critical thinking.

Caulfield concludes that he want to "convince students to use strong emotions as the mental trigger" for the fact-checking habit.  How do you teach fact-checking in the adult education environment?  What are the tips and tricks you've used to help make learners cautious and informed readers?  Share how you're embracing the facts, as we move into the new year.

Happy 2018!

Mike Cruse

Career Pathways, and Disabilities and Equitable Outcomes Moderator



Diana Satin's picture

Helpful. Thanks!