A Stanford University study drives the point home even further–it determined that students from middle school through college were not able to distinguish between reliable news sources and sponsored content or advertising.
“In every case and at every level, we were taken aback by students’ lack of preparation,” the study’s authors wrote. “Never have we had so much information at our fingertips. Whether this bounty will make us smarter and better informed or more ignorant and narrow-minded will depend on our awareness of this problem and our educational response to it.”
In the midst of fake information and biased websites, though, organizations are working to give students the skills they need to separate factual information from false news:
1. P21 includes information literacy in its Framework for 21st Century Learning to help students not just access and evaluate information in a critical and competent manner, but also use that information accurately.
2. The Center for Media Literacy offers resources and documents that educators can use to form definitions of media literacy and demonstrate its importance for students.
3. The American Association of School Librarians notes that the definition of information literacy has changed as technologies and resources have evolved, but critical thinking and evaluation skills will help students succeed in a tech-based global economy.
4. This list of resources from the National Council of Teachers of English includes a couple resources about evaluating sources for potential arguments, bias or propaganda.
5. Frank Baker’s Media Literacy Clearinghouse was recently updated to include a special section on fake news and helping students navigate it.
6. Media Literacy Now offers a wealth of information and tools to help educators and students tackle the issue of fake news and information evaluation.
7. The News Literacy Project’s mission is to help young people learn how to identify credible news sources and apply that knowledge as they continue learning.