I am having great fun with Factitious, a quiz that tests my ability to identify real news (as well as the fake stuff). It’s a resource that can help middle and high school kids fine tune media their literacy skills, guiding them to figure out the truthfulness (or lack of truthfulness) of a news story. Oh, and maybe it can help adults, too.
Developed collaboratively by JoLT and the AU Game Lab, two organizations at the American University in Washington, DC, the quiz highlights news stories that have appeared in print and asks players to read evaluate them. At the bottom of each story is a button to click to identify the source of the story. With these two bits of information players decide whether the news story is true or false. The game indicates whether an answer is correct or incorrect, and then provides a description of the news source, explaining whether it’s known for false or reliable information. Continue reading →
Uploaded by Mancala at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
What will it take to make adolescents and teens understand that what they do just about anywhere is not private — even if it’s digital and feels like a limited number of others will know? Perhaps we are about to find out.
Harvard University recently rescinded acceptances from ten or more incoming students who formed a “private” Facebook page and traded sexually explicit and disgusting memes about kids, women, and people of color. Putting aside the loathsome behavior — just for a moment — why on earth would these young people consider any Facebook group or any other online group to be private, even if it has private in its name?
Crimson reporter Hannah Natanson writes:
In the group students sent each other memes and other images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children, according to screenshots of the chat obtained by The Crimson. Some of the messages joked that abusing children was sexually arousing, while others had punchlines directed at specific ethnic or racial groups…
The Media Literacy community is dedicated and passionate about its work — but not according to danah boyd (yes she spells her name this way).
I’ve just read her article, Did Media Literacy Backfire? and honestly, I am puzzled. Boyd aptly describes today’s problems with unsubstantiated information and dramatic cultural divides, but she goes on to blame media literacy.
Medialit has no causal relationship with the cultural issues that divide us. In fact, if there is any connection between today’s digital information and cultural communication problems it’s that we don’t have nearly enough school literacy programs to help all students learn how to deconstruct and consume media.
Maya Bery, a technology/media colleague, who also happens to be a former student, shared this delightful description about two 21st Century children searching for answers.
Two third graders came in this morning looking for the dog books because they’d seen a dog and could not remember what it was called. It was driving them CRAZY!
They looked through the dog encyclopedias to no avail. Searching online for short, fluffy dogs yielded nothing. Then they told me that the dog had short legs. We added that to our Google search and found the answer in two seconds flat. It was a corgi.
I am learning how to code, and right now it’s hard. With all of the talk about teaching children to code — I agree, but sometimes the world of education goes overboard on our newly recognized philosophies — I decided to organize a small before-school activity using MIT’s Scratch coding site. There was only one problem with my program idea. I only knew a little bit about Scratch.
So I started the morning activity during the second week of school and by day two, a few of the 10-15 attendees (children in grades 3-5) were ahead of me. “What’s a variable?” one of them asked. “Do you know how to make a game where the sprite (the little person on the screen who carries out the coding commands) bumps into a ball?” asked another. My answer in both cases was no. Sure I knew how to do many beginning tasks in Scratch, but not what these children wanted to know.
Now those of you readers who are educators and parents know that kids often take care of things like this by figuring out things for themselves — and my students did just that, experimenting and trying things out — but I wondered, “If these questions were coming up on the second day, what would the second week be like?” I needed to master some new Scratch skills and fast. Continue reading →
Years ago as a beginning teacher, I asked one of my University of Chicago professors how it was that my mentoring teacher seemed to do everything at once — teaching one group, keeping an eye on other parts of the classroom, and continuously but quietly communicating with everyone in the room — all at the same time. She even knew when a student some distance behind her was not completing the assigned task.
“She acquired those skills step-by-step,” my professor replied.
Today as we cope with the challenge of transforming our teaching skills to make what goes on in our classrooms applicable to the ever-changing world of digital information (a.k.a. innovation or 21st Century learning), many of us are renewing our commitment to lifelong learning as we explore and acquire a range of new skills and behaviors. We are learning, step-by-step, how to teach differently and stretch ourselves in ways that help students access, process, and use information in innovative but sensible ways. Continue reading →
Blogging can be a solitary endeavor, so it’s exciting when another cool website publishes a blogger’s thoughts and ideas. Over the past several weeks I’ve had two blog posts published over at A Platform for Good (PFG), a part of the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI).
Visit A Platform for Good
PFG aims to encourage parents, kids, and educators to connect with one another and think about “doing good” in the digital world. The website and the blog focus on a range of interesting topics with lots of ideas on digital parenting, learning, growing up in today’s world, and many other authentic opportunities — all great for us to have access to in a connected world.