Over the past 10 days I have attended multiple, jam-packed professional development events. I’m beginning to think of it in reality show lingo as my extreme professional development experience, because I’ve encountered so many colleagues along with ideas, hands-on strategies, learning theories, and thoughtful approaches, all focused on becoming better teachers, collaborators, and learners in the 21st Century. One over-arching idea applies to all of my activities: learning, unlearning, and relearning are now routine. Anyone not comfortable with these three concepts — connected and in tandem — needs to get acquainted with them ASAP.
I’m reminded of a quote from futurist Alvin Toffler, “The illiterate of the future are not those that cannot read or write. They are those that can not learn, unlearn, and relearn.“
My extreme adventure started about 10 days ago when I presented in the Virginia Shenandoah Valley at the Virginia Association of Press Women. I described how technology has transformed the way we all learn and how specific content is now less important than our skill at discovering information, evaluating it, and using it well. The digital content is out there for everyone to find, I told the group. The role of adults and teachers is to ensure that as we teach one area of content we also ensure that children are developing the skills to recognize, evaluate, and use quality information.
I drove home on Saturday and left again on Sunday for the annual AIMS Technology Retreat on the Maryland Eastern Shore.
If you find yourself thinking about the digital research activities of children, especially older students who complete significant amounts of their research using the unlimited resources available on the World Wide Web, you are not alone. Over the past 10 years I have wondered — more than once and sometimes with great angst — if my child and the many children I’ve known really understand the need to evaluate the resources that they find on the web.
Earlier this year I discovered a small book, published by the MacArthur Foundation, describing research that explored how children perceive the quality and reliability of digital media. It’s a book that concerned parents may want to read. In Kids and Credibility: An Empirical Examination of Youth, Digital Media Use, and Information Credibility, authors Andrew J. Flanagin and Miriam J. Metzger, summarize their study as a “…comprehensive investigation into youth’s Internet use and their assessment of the credibility of online information.” The authors wondered whether young digital media users, while sophisticated and fearless about using technology, could evaluate information and determine its quality.
To learn more about young people and web credibility the researchers planned and executed a web-based survey of more than 2,000 children age 11 – 18. Study participants also completed a range of Internet tasks, evaluating information, making judgements about content, and explaining how and why they complete web tasks in certain ways. While there is far too much to cover in one blog post — check out the many interesting graphs in the publication — I’ve listed a few of the most interesting observations below. Continue reading “Kids and Web Resource Credibility”→
When we adults were students, we learned to write content-filled essays and reports, introducing the important facts about a subject. We discovered these facts by using quality reference materials, often at a library.
With today’s digitized resources and websites a student follows roughly the same routine, but resource reliability is a significant issue. While it’s easy to find sites with information about a topic, identifying reliable and significant information is more of a challenge. The trick is to discover whether or not a site is a reliable resource.
Help your child determine the quality and reliability of a site before using it as a digital resource. The University of Maryland posts this short handout that explains how to go about evaluating a website.
Many sites appear to be real as well as reliable, but they are bogus. An entertaining website for you and your child to explore features bogus websitesdesigned to look accurate and authoritative. Except that they aren’t. Take a few minutes to explore these bogus sites.
The other day I chatted with a parent about the concept of copyright. Both of us are concerned that digital kids understand very little about intellectual property. The free-for-all digital information climate ensures that children have considerable difficulty comprehending what belongs to whom.
If you worry about the digital research activities of children, especially older students who complete significant amounts of their research using the unlimited resources available on the World Wide Web, you are not alone. Over the past 10 years I have wondered — more than once and sometimes with great angst — if my child and the many children I’ve known over the years really understand the need to evaluate the resources that they find on the web.
Are you thinking about the children and adolescents in your family and how they effortlessly use digital information but don’t always manage it as well as they might?
John Palfrey, Harvard Law Professor and a co-author of Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives spoke at the University of Washington’s Project Information Literacy(an organization that deserves its own post sometime). Palfrey shared his thoughts on plagiarism, content evaluation, and the role of librarians and teachers. He also pointed out that even in this age of the digital native, plenty of young people around the world do not have enough access to information.
When he spoke about plagiarism in today’s digital world Palfrey commented, “One of the big mistake is to think that “…this time it’s different and then fail to look carefully into what’s really changed and what’s ultimately the same.”
Some Important Points
“Plagiarism is still plagiarism – using someone’s work and passing it off as your own — but we do need to teach students how to deal with the huge amount of digital information at their fingertips”
The concept of remixing information is confusing because a person is allowed to take another person’s work and do things with it, however attributing the work to the original author is paramount.
Digital natives are not all adept as sorting through and evaluating the information they find.