Session II - Crap Detection 101: Educator Call for Action

Notes from Howard Rheingold's presentation at ISTE - June 2010

Personal Learning Networks are very important. We can learn from our students. We can learn a lot; that there are digital natives is not so true. There is a wide range of competence. There are a range of things they know and don't know. I learn from the one's that do know more than me.

Two questions are now becoming essential:
1. How can you pluck the answer to any question out of the air?
2. How do you know that what you find is accurate?

Interesting to see how people formulate their search strategies. They find out things from social networks as well as search engines.

Learning how to read and write has a social component. We can use the ability to work in consort to our benefit. Takes many literacies that have an internal and external component

Critical Consumption (crap detection) - I started thinking about in 1966 - 67
Learned from watching my daughter and considering the authority of information. Used to have people who checked facts of books. When you put a term in a search engine you have no idea whether the information is accurate, credible or bogus.
I wondered (with my daughter) how to check credibility.
  • First ask, "who is the author?", Is there an author. or who takes responsibility for the site.

Some example sites:
  • Pregnancy test online
  • Genetically
  • Northwest tree octopus article.

While some of these sites say they aren't for real, people may not read closely to see this. We can show bogus sites to students to illustrate the problem of credibility.

Attention - Collaboration - Critical Thinking - Network Awareness
All of these skills need to work together. They aren't taught in schools. Students aren't teaching each other these literacies, though they are teaching each other many other things.

Resources are being created, added, edited here in the wiki.

Looking for teaching stories.
How have people taught web credibility with students?
We can't police the information that is going on the web. The bogus information is growing.

Inner component - the person who can determine credibility will have an advantage.
External component - We can improve the wealth of the commons by disavowing the bogus websites, teaching kids to sift through it.

Showed video. Wonder why/how some students can divide their attention.
Cliff Nass - has done research on this. Most research is about irrelevant sources of distraction.

I Have done some experiments with my students on this.
In my class this year I am going to come up with new attention probes. Want them to develop a bit of an internal observer. We need them to ask the question of themselves.

We need to expose kids to the real (unfiltered) version of the Internet. Students who are able to write, in a discussion with other students and the world, benefit greatly.

Young people create as well as consume online. Most kids have contributed to something.

We have an opportunity to link students interest with what we are teaching. An informed consumer has a very different attitude than someone who has contributed to a blog.

Kids are shifting their values to their peer group. They have many more ways to do it. They aren't doing it because parents want them to.

Network Awareness
Self organization (Smart Mobs) - There are examples of people organizing and mobilizing using networks in Spain, in Chile (penguin revolution), and here in the US (immigration protests).

Students need to learn about the nature of networks. Small world networks.
Networked individualism - People used to go to Usenet networks. This hasn't gone away but now people have devices that can make them the center of their network.
Building trustworthy networks (part of crap detection) is a skill that students need to learn.

There is a duty for teachers and other adults to educate themselves and their children to this changing world of technology and information.