If you are searching for an educational media literacy initiative that focuses on the mechanics of fact-checking, take a few minutes to learn about MediaWise, a project of the Poynter Institute.
Eighteen teenagers from around the United States are part of a MediaWise fact-checking network, learning about strategies and techniques that can help them identify misinformation. They participate in training that helps them understand how to determine what’s true and what’s not, and then the teens can set about investigating on their own. Finally, and this is the cool part, after the students decide whether the information is true or false, they create videos that illustrate the process they used to evaluate the information.
Learning to comment well, avoid chatter, and identify made-up news and comments — before sharing or forwarding them — is a critical 21st Century literacy skill.
Each week I receive a terrific email on fact checking, sent from the Poynter Institute, an independent group that promotes excellent and innovative journalism in our 21st Century democracy. Poynter’s weekly email message contains all sorts of interesting tidbits, quotes, and information that can help people learn more about information accuracy.
It happens to me all the time on social media. I see something interesting that connects with what I like or want to believe, start to read it, and then I immediately start to share it with my friends. I’m learning, however, to think more about it first. Now I’m spending more time considering whether what I see and read comes from a reputable news source or if some of the details in the article can survive a fact check.
Our traditional expectations for civility and ethical behavior are cracking apart right before our eyes.
On the basis of what’s happened at recent political conventions and the beginning of the election season, young people will be witnessing name-calling, stereotyping, hateful comments, online hate, and in some cases veiled bodily threats. Kids will hear things on TV at home and on the televisions that are broadcasting in lounges, waiting rooms, doctor’s offices, and everywhere else. They will hear radios broadcasting the news at home and in other peoples’ homes. And, of course, there’s social media.
How do we help children identify and understand information that is not credible?
Election seasons provide some of the best opportunities to teach 21st Century young people about credibility — in school, at home, online and off. As we go about electing new leaders, we see and hear candidates stating all sorts of claims, assertions, rumors, and postulations. Some are true, others slightly true, some absurdly false, but all come via various media, social and otherwise, though not always online.