Information & Media Literacy for 2020 and Beyond

I am thinking a lot (more than usual) about teaching teachers (and through them their students) about new forms of reading and writing. I am taking the Teaching Critical Literacy in a Multimedia World online course from Eduro Learning in order to renew my teaching certification. As part of the final project, I am working on developing a workshop to introduce teachers I work with to the urgency of becoming information and media literate and the growing problem around the world of Fake News.

Why the need for teachers to wrap their minds around this problem?

The issue of Fake News in general isn’t likely to go away. Kalev Leetaru in Forbes sends us A Reminder That ‘Fake News’ Is An Information Literacy Problem – Not A Technology Problem

Beneath the spread of all “fake news,” misinformation, disinformation, digital falsehoods and foreign influence lies society’s failure to teach its citizenry information literacy: how to think critically about the deluge of information that confronts them in our modern digital age. Instead, society has prioritized speed over accuracy, sharing over reading, commenting over understanding. Children are taught to regurgitate what others tell them and to rely on digital assistants to curate the world rather than learn to navigate the informational landscape on their own.

As an information literacy problem, it becomes an urgent amplified challenge for our schools to teach the skills for critical thinking when it comes to digital information. How to proceed when most teachers did not grow up in the era of fake news and are hesitant to tackle the subject with their own students?

Adults may need media literacy even more than students is the title of a recent article by Eliza Newlin Carlin… and I fully agree… Just because our students might be digital natives, it does not necessarily mean, that they are digitally literate.

The movement to revive civic learning has focused fresh attention on students’ media literacy. But what about their parents and grandparents? Older Americans are even worse than students at distinguishing factual news from opinion news, studies have found, and are more likely to repost fraudulent stories. Yet adults have been largely left out of the push to tackle the “upstream” side of the misinformation explosion — the viewers and readers who make false stories “go viral.”

Pretending that the problem does not exist and that the skills necessary to read and write critically and ethically in 2020 and beyond are not a priority is NOT AN OPTION . We need to equip educators to become skilled and fluent in information literacy to be able to guide, support, facilitate, and deepen the learning around information with their students.

Let’s start with the Forbes’ post mentioned above to introduce (potentially raising for the first awareness for many educators) the problem and responsibility of schools/educators to address information literacy.

Societies must teach their children from a young age how to perform research, understand sourcing, triangulate information, triage contested narratives and recognize the importance of where information comes from, not just what it says. In short, we must teach all of our citizens how to be researchers and scientists when it comes to consuming information.

Discussing the content of the quote above might be a good beginning. What does it mean? What strategies, methods, and techniques do educators have in their toolbox to bring these skills to life in the classroom with their students? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.

The following posts, articles, and video might point you in the direction of some potential resources and strategies:

This list of resources and the content they address are fully intended to make educators, parents, anyone (really!!) uncomfortable with the reality of that we have a problem! We have a problem and we need to figure out the process (yes, it is a process, not a one-size fits all solution, not a project, a one class we can take for credit and be-done-with-it type-of-problem). Do YOU feel uncomfortable with the overwhelming responsibility to be able to deal with all the changes in media & information literacy that you might or might not be familiar with?

Try to capture these thoughts, feelings and emotions and make them visible in a sketchnote, via a reflective blog post, as a #runandrant video clip, etc. and share the link to your reflection in the comment section.

In the Eduro Learning course, the course instructors share 4 Lenses To View Digital Literacy. A helpful routine, model or framework to begin to deconstruct what we see or read in digital spaces.

To continue to build a foundation around new forms of reading and writing and what that means for our traditional notion of literacy, teachers read the following two Langwitches posts and download (PDF) or view the following slidedeck

Our Notion of Being Literate or Illiterate Calls for an Update

New Forms of Reading and Writing

In addition to new forms of reading and writing in digital spaces, new types of concepts have exponentially emerged in the last few years. Terms, such as fake news, deep and shallow fakes, alternative facts, truth decay, and post-truth world are rising to the surface.

A few years ago, I had the fortune to see Julie Smith speak at a conference in Argentina. Julie is a professor, who specializes around media literacy and digital citizenship.

She recently shared one of her blog post on Twitter, which supports the urgency of teaching our students the skills to spot and debunk fake information online: Shallow Fakes and Deep Fakes: The Next #Digcit Frontier.

It’s nearly 2020 and some schools are still focusing their #digcit energies toward “online safety” and “cyber-bullying”. Granted, these are important issues but I propose we need to go WAAAAY deeper into our critical thinking of the digital world that surrounds us.

Julie Smith

Alan November cites a Stanford Survey in one of his article titled Mission Critical: How Educators Can Help Save Democracy

At present, we worry that democracy is threatened by the ease at which disinformation about civic issues is allowed to spread and flourish. …If the children are the future, the future might be very ill-informed.” —Stanford History Education Group, 2016.

[ I don’t know about you, but I am really worried! I am worried when I read about democracies being threatened due to misinformation, strategic fake news, the lack of critical thinking skills of citizens (of all ages) and information illiteracy… and not just here in the United States, but a worldwide problem. (think the role of misinformation/fake news and lack of information literacy played in Brexit]

Please be part of a crowdsourced effort to curate strategies to spot and combat fake news by contributing a short recording of yourself or leaving a comment in the comment section below by sharing your own strategies.

Take the time to reflect on the urgency of becoming information and media literate. Keep topics such as fake news, Record a short video on Flipgrid or by leaving a comment in the comment section below to share your reflection with others interested in this topic.

Conferences, workshops, coaching sessions or blog posts for that matter are great, but are only seeds that are planted. Self-motivated and self-directed learning will lead to action, changes and impact in your and your students’ learning. The bigger question is now: What action will you take?
Briefly reflect and articulate what have you learned about new forms of reading and writing and the consequences to information and media literacy? What will you investigate further? Make a commitment to life long learning! Share by adding a short video response on Flipgrid or by leaving a comment in the comment section below!

I will ask again for a commitment to becoming information and media literate from all educators and parents!