Digital Information | Week 5
It has never been a straightforward task, determining reliable websites and information on the internet. In recent years the volume of digital content available on the internet has exploded, thanks to a deeper saturation of internet access (home and mobile) as well as the tidal wave of digital content creators leading to a growing population who are not only, turning to the internet for information, but are actively contributing and sharing their own thoughts, ideas, and information online (Howell, 2012, p. 136). Therefore, as Educators around the world, and in Australia, integrate technology deeper into their curriculum and daily classroom activities, teaching students ‘how to use the internet’ becomes an integral part of a student’s technological education. Students need to master the ability to discern researched and factual information from an individual or group’s thoughts and opinion.
As Teachers, when it comes to the internet, we know it is not possible to provide our students with rich learning opportunities if we are ‘holding their hand’ throughout their entire online journey. For student’s to gain the greatest understanding of ‘how to use the internet’ they need to be given opportunities to interact with it through creative, experimental and purposeful activities (Howell, 2012, p. 134-5). As Katrina Schwartz (2013) states in her blog Teach Kids to be their own Internet Filter, “It’s becoming less and less effective to block students from websites”, so “rather than shielding them” we need to teach students “to be their own filters”.
If we picture a pyramid, the foundational blocks would be to teach students the ‘mechanics’ of ‘how to use the internet’: connecting to the internet, opening and navigating web-browsers, using search engines, opening hyperlinks and webpages. The subsequent layers would consist of teaching students how to interpret and critique the digital information they uncover.
The following data points summarised in Teach Kids to be their own Internet Filter:
- Identifying features: maps, graphs, documents, reprints etc.
- Scope: Is the source broad like an encyclopedia entry or does it go deeply into a subject? When researching, start broad and narrow along the way.
- Sources: Does the article references where the information came from?
- Reliable: What’s a legitimate news source? Look for clues in layout, author biography, labels on the page that would indicate if it’s opinion or reported work.
- Currency: How recent is the work? Does that date matter for the purposes of the project?
- Comparison: Can the information be compared to other sources?
- Authority: Is the author really an expert? What clues from their bio would indicate if the author has a specific bias? Did he or she get paid to write the article? That can be a good indicator of bias.
- Audience: Discern who the article is written for and that will help determine its purpose and perhaps its bias.
- Viewpoint: Different viewpoints have varying degrees of validity. There are times when one viewpoint should perhaps be given more weight than another.
- Purpose: Was it written to promote something?
- Conclusion: What conclusions did the author draw?
- Relevance: Is the source relevant to the research needs?
(Luhtala cited in Schwartz 2013)
As our society steadily (or in some instances rapidly) transitions to, and embraces, digital information, it is a societal expectation that students are educated on how to use the internet effectively and sensibly. As Luhtala cited in Schwartz (2013) stated “If we are not teaching the kids to use the web as a vehicle for enhancing learning and teaching them to be the filter, that’s a dereliction of duty”.
Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: Digital pedagogies for collaboration and creativity. Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.
Information Overload [Image] (2014). Retrieved from http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140227043901-17917510-how-you-can-overcome-information-overload
It’s not information overload, it’s filter failure [Image] (2010). Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/captainmath/4442384194/
Kapor, M. [Image 1] (2013). Retrieved from http://www.wolper.com/2013/11/evolving-value-of-information-professionals/
Schwartz, K. (2013, October 4). Teach Kids To Be Their Own Internet Filters. Retrieved April 5, 2014, from MindShift How we will learn.: http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/10/teach-kids-to-be-their-own-filter/