Fake news. Disinformation. Misinformation. We see it all and so do our students.
We can choose to ignore it or we, as educators, can help students see what is real, what is fake, and what is somewhere in-between.
Kimberly Rues writes as she tries to get a better understanding of fake news herself:
Eating the proverbial elephant one bite at a time seems like a great place to begin, but which bite to take first? I would propose that we might begin by steeping ourselves in definitions that allow us to speak with clarity in regards to the types of misleading information. Developing a common vocabulary, if you will.
In my quest to deeply understand the elephant on the menu, I dug into this infographic from the European Association for Viewers Interests which took me on a tour of ten types of misleading news—propaganda, clickbait, sponsored content, satire and hoax, error, partisan, conspiracy theory, pseudoscience, misinformation and bogus information. Of course, I recognized those terms, but it allowed me to more clearly articulate the similarities and differences in text and images that fit these descriptions.
My first instinct is to keep bringing us all back to the subject of digital citizenship (which is just good citizenship in a digital world) but I know I’m still a small voice in a big world.
“Today, various pathways exist for future success that value all learning. We need to move beyond a narrow focus on success as only a four-year college degree that ignores entrepreneurial opportunities, career and technical education, and the evolving nature of work… When we expand our vision to encompass all these pathways, we see that social and emotional skills, such as the ability to collaborate effectively and cultivate relationships, are a foundation for future readiness.”
CASEL CEO and President Dr. Aaliyah A. Samuel
Another reminder that a college degree isn’t for every student but those “soft skills” that employers want (as does the rest of society) are important for every student.
Leaders who may not have been keen on social media before were scrambling. They would use any and all means to stay connected with students.
Of course, working from home is not the same as working from school. Even for students who have internet access at home, it’s often not as reliable or as fast as what they can get at school.
Our public schools have at least 1Gbps upload/download fiber connections here in Kentucky, better than pretty much anything available to homes.
Also, knowing that as the pandemic began around 15% of students in the US did not have reliable high-speed internet access at home and 17% of teens indicated they did not have the resources to complete schoolwork at home (the “homework gap”), just connecting to students would be an issue.
Still, schools leveraged what they could.
I wish I could say that all schools use social media well but we’re still very much on the learning curve of these technologies. As with most other things in education, someone has to manage a program for social media.
Often, this falls to the school library media specialist or a technology teacher. And just as often, these folks have little experience with crafting a media message or dealing with comments from the public on social platforms.
If we want our schools to use social media, we have to find a way to fund having a person that takes care of that content.
Yes, your school needs a PR person. Of course, this person should likely also have interns (students) who want to learn the ins and outs of modern communications and PR.
It’s something to think about as we move forward post-pandemic.
We don’t need social media for schools
On the other hand, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch for anyone to admit that social media is not always the best tool to introduce to students, especially when we don’t talk about digital citizenship in schools.
The role of social media in spreading panic among primary and secondary school students during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Of course, blocking access leads to other issues. When schools move past blocking access to the most egregious sites on the web, they can get into the tangle of “I need you to block this site/app because my students are distracted” requests from teachers at every level.
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