This question became the main one in our everyday life in the digital age. People can find different information on various informational platforms. How to verify: what is true or what is fake? There are absolutely fake stories and the part-fake story – the event has happened, the date, the place, the participants – are correct, but what happened or interpretations of the event are not true.
News is the hardest thing to define, the early report can be fake, but it is still on social media, and people spread it for different reasons (political, commercial, or just for fun). Pretty often, it is hard to identify the fake news even for the educated grownups. I can imagine how difficult for youth to tell the difference between true and fake information. Social media became a part of their life, and probably, they can not even imagine that what they read on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram could be fake or sponsored.
I remember one story that happened a few years ago. CNN reported that “Russian authorities have ordered the closing of the Anglo-American School in Moscow after the United States imposed major new sanctions on December 29 over Moscow’s meddling in the US election.” It was a Christmas break, my colleagues, friends, and relatives were sending me the screenshot of this news. It was difficult to believe, but CNN is a respectful news-based pay television channel. During one or two days, I do not remember, I was horrified thinking about what I would do in these circumstances. Soon we found out that it was fake news.
OUR ROLE AS EDUCATORS
So, it means that we, as educators, are responsible for introducing and developing the new skills that will support our students to survive in the ocean of new information.
WHAT STEPS CAN BE DONE?
- to introduce reliable online sources that are vetted by the school,
- to demonstrate how to research online,
- to explain that the students need to check a few resources, not trust one,
- to study the persuasive writing techniques (ReadWriteThink) and the techniques advertisers use in order to recognize these techniques,
- to introduce search program designed for students such as Sweet Search and advanced option for Google searches and tools that fight disinformation online,
- to introduce Ethics of Sharing Information Online (before sharing double-check the resources, think five minutes, be positive, empathetic and responsible, do not try to win, “be aware of your own biases”),
- to create a safe learning environment (blog, website, video channel) where students will be able to use their media literacy skills (interact with peers and solve the real problems, post their work (stories, researches, poems, drawings, videos, etc.) for sharing and getting feedback.
Winston Churchill said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.“
We are responsible for growing a new generation who wants to know the truth, can identify the truth, and is able to stand up for the truth.