Updating Digital Literacies Part 1: Checking for Fake News


Pictured: “Wikipedian Protester”, Randall Munroe – via his webcomic xkcd, available under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5

I write this on the eve of the Trump inauguration in the United States. Barack Obama was the first US President to leverage social media in his election. In his wake, it can be well-argued that Donald Trump’s election included abuse of social media. It turns out that social media is like that — for good or ill.

How do educators respond as we consider how to help the next generation to use social media well, in a healthy way, for their own networking benefits as well as to benefit society? Is it too idealistic to consider social media to benefit society? Is that our role as educators?

I would argue that that is indeed our role. I would argue that a new digital literacy we should advocate is that of checking for fake news. The term “fake news” itself may be abused –it is too easy to label something “fake news” because we disagree with it. And it may be difficult to detect fake news. Students regardless must be challenged to consider whether the news they read is true, consider its provenance — it is an aspect of scholarly criticality. This TED ED blogpost “How to tell fake news from real news” is a good start.

Over recent years, Jisc has done great work shaping digital literacies, as typified in its CoDesign approach. Perhaps it is time to include “Checking for fake news” as a key digital literacy.

Terese Bird, Leicester Medical School Educational Designer




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