Earlier in the year I was tasked with creating a resource guide on “post-truth” and fake news. It’s not something I was clamoring to do. To be honest: I was still in the post-election malaise–and my heart was just not into it.
Rarely would I label any of my work tasks as “edicts,” (I like the flexibility and creativity of my job) but this time it was. As part of a broader campus-wide discussion, the library needed to play a part. I began by facilitating a meeting with the librarians on the topic of:
What do we want students to know about post-truth and fake news?
My colleagues are great brainstormers! Too great in fact. Here’s what we came up with:
From this, I had to develop a guide. How do you narrow it down to something manageable? Here’s the guide I created: Post-Truth and Fake News.
After sharing it with library staff for feedback, we then solicited feedback from campus faculty.
I decided a checklist approach, like the CRAAP test, doesn’t really work with post-truth/fake news. It takes time to critically evaluate and a checklist approach won’t suffice. You need to think, analyze, question motives, and question your own assumptions too.
Instead, I went for more a introductory approach that attempts to tie some of these related topics together: How does the information bubble work? How can our own bubble lead to confirmation bias? How does that make us more susceptible to fake news?
Then I added some resources that faculty can use with classes, including links to teaching materials:
- News Literacy Coursepack – developed by the Center for News Literacy at Stony Brook University
- False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical “News” Sources – developed by Melissa Zimdars, Merrimack College
- Lesson Plan: How to Teach Students About Fake News – PBS
- Calling Bullshit – Syllabus developed by Carl T. Bergstrom & Javin West at the University of Washington. Includes content on fake news.
- Position Statement on Media Literacy – from the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS). Good list of questions to think about when evaluating information.
Lastly, I included a lesson. Frankly, it’s hard to keep up with post-truth/fake news developments in the political realm. I took a different tack when it came to “Evaluating Claims.” Knowing that a majority of our students end up majoring in the health sciences, I picked a health “fad” to evaluate: buttered coffee. Is it good? Is it bad? Somewhere in between? Using the NCSS statements as a starting point we could evaluate claims for and against by having a class discussion.
Takeaways: A guide like this can’t possibly cover all of the various themes. It’s a complicated, messy, and ever-evolving topic. But it can be used for an introduction and to provide instructors and students with some good resources to use.
Link to guide: http://pioguides.carrollu.edu/posttruth