Is Your Digital Literacy Robust Enough for Fake News?

As you may be able to tell from my last post, digital literacy is a main focus of my educational technology course. It is important that as an educator you teach your students about their own digital identity and literacy so that they know how to establish whether information online is fake or not. Digital literacy and fake news go hand-in-hand and your students will need to know what to look for on any website in order to indicate whether the content on that website is in fact true or not.

If you want to teach your students about how to recognize fake news but don’t know where to start, check out this article on How do we teach students to identify fake news?.This post talks about how our emotions and beliefs will influence us in deciding whether information is factual or not, I believe this is especially true with younger audiences. This is why it is important to teach your students to be critical and to provide them with the skills necessary to break down the information that is online. Take a look at this website if you are interested in some strategies and ideas that can help your students become critical readers so that they can identify fake news.

Students also need to realize that the term “fake news” is a part of a larger spectrum than it may seem. Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt mention in their Developing Critical Literacies post that “the line between real and fake seems increasingly blurred and uncertain” (2018). This is something that we need to acknowledge and be mindful of when teaching our students about fake news. In her article Fake news: It’s complicated Claire Wardle (2017) explains how fake news is a part of this information ecosystem. In order to understandthis ecosystem, we need to be thinking about the different types of content that is being shared and created, what motivates individuals to create this content, and the ways in which this content is being disseminated. As educators we need to ensure that our students are not negatively contributing to this ecosystem where they are sharing misinformation, instead our students should be advocating for the content online that is in fact true.

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Now that I have outline the purpose of teaching your students about their digital literacy, I bet that some of you are still wondering how this connects to curriculum. The Saskatchewan curriculum has a pdf document that connects many aspects of technology to learning outcomes; including fostering digital fluency, technology-supported learning, administrative operations, and technological infrastructure. The Province of Saskatchewan also has a document that outlines the importance of digital fluency and digital citizenship and includes other resources that are helpful for educators. Finally, digital literacy also connects to the NCTE Framework for Curriculum and Assessment that outlines the purposes for technology and skills needed to not only learn about technology but also learn through technology.

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I know that after all of this some of you may be thinking about whether there is enough time for teaching about digital literacy in your classroom with all the other curricular outcomes that need to be met. There are many cross-curricular opportunities out there that incorporate technology and can be used to teach skills that support digital literacy. It is important to remember that this does not happen in one class period, one subject or even one school year. Digital literacy is a lifelong process and you as an educator need to engage your students in this journey.

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