Today, we have more sources of information, more ways to access that information, and more knowledge in general than probably any other time in history. This large amount of information, however, can be tough to understand. It can be hard to judge news sources, analyze data, and do it all in rapidly changing circumstances.
That’s why digital literacy, and news literacy in particular, are crucial skills for all people, and a vital piece of preparing and educating students.
What Is News Literacy?
Understanding how journalists work and hows news is reported has always been an important skill for an engaged and informed populous. But the digital age poses new opportunities — and new challenges. As Richard Hornik of the Center for News Literacy at Stony Brook University outlines:
The Digital Age poses four serious information literacy challenges for civil society:
1) The amount of information we are flooded with daily makes it difficult to sort out what’s reliable.
2) New technologies to create and share information make it easy to create content that only appears authoritative and then to spread it virally.
4) The conflict between speed and accuracy has been exacerbated by Digital Age demands for delivering information as fast as possible, but accelerating that process increases the chance it will be wrong.
4) Humans prefer information that supports our beliefs, and the Internet and social media make it much easier for us to select only the information that supports our ideas, reinforcing rather than challenging them.Richard Hornik, “Why News Literacy Matters, A NEW LITERACY FOR CIVIL SOCIETY IN THE 21st CENTURY”
News literacy is meant to combat these challenges. Teaching students how to read, judge, analyze, and make decisions based on new media “teaches students to think for themselves, seek out credible information and sources, look the world full in the face and not turn away from what might make them uncomfortable,” according to the News Literacy Project, a nonprofit that provides resources for educators.
In recent years, digital tools have been developed to help teach and assess students’ ability to judge sources and tell fact from fiction (or simply exaggeration or inaccuracy).
Checkology, from the News Literacy Project, is a popular tool for teaching the subject. Complete with lessons, games, and practice exercises that students can pursue in independent learning, asynchronous environments, and anywhere they can access the browser-based and tablet-compatible product. It even comes with emoji-filled discussion boards, Spanish language translation, and more.
New Options with Newslea
Ed tech company Newslea has developed content libraries that focus on delivering news and information from vetted sources for students and teachers, with editions that focus on ELA, social studies, science, as well as Essentials, which has a cross-curricular focus. They’ve recently added Newslea SEL, to create and curate content meant to develop social-emotional learning.
Newslea can automatically differentiate texts based on reading level, and comes with reading comprehension quizzes, annotation tools, and writing prompts, as well as various collections and lessons. The Text Sets feature offers “thematically curated texts as well as lesson plans and activities that can give students a more holistic picture of a topic.”
The News Never Stops
Of course, there are many other sources, tools, and articles to help you expand and improve your teaching around news and media literacy. Here are some useful links from around the ed tech web:
- From Written to Digital: The New Literacy, Educause Review
- News and Media Literacy Resource Center, Common Sense Education
- News literacy resources, American Press Institute
- ‘Nothing on this page is real’: How lies become truth in online America, The Washington Post
- A Finder’s Guide To Facts, NPR
- News Literacy, Cool Tools for Schools
- The Parent & Educator Guide to Media Literacy & Fake News, Connect Safely
- Teach News Literacy, Washtenaw Community College
- Media Smarts (Canada)
More from TCEA
- Podcast: Fake News and Digital Literacy w/ Jennifer LaGarde | Ep. 27 | LIVE from TCEA 2020
- News Literacy for Educators (with 15 Tools)
- Resources to Teach Students About News Validity
- Promoting Digital Literacy
- The Digital Literacy Divide
- Research in the Age of the Filter Bubble
Photo by Sollok29 via Wikimedia Commons.