In the era of "fake news," cyber attacks and "alternative facts," a Baldwin Wallace University professor is arming teachers and students with a guide to discerning the truth.
In "News Literacy: Helping Students and Teachers Decode Fake News" (from publisher Rowman & Littlefield), BW School of Education professor Robert W. Janke and co-author Bruce S. Cooper (professor emeritus, Fordham University) offer concrete steps for distinguishing real news from deceptive information.
DISARMING A WEAPON
"Fake news can be used as a weapon with destructive effects as powerful as any military attack, and it can spread as fast as a wildfire carried on the winds of social media," they warn.
Janke adds that the potential costs to our society are great.
"We must equip today’s students to discern the accuracy of news and other claims in order to guide the civic decisions we make now and in the future," he said. "Schools should teach students to be aware, doubting and investigating what they hear on TV, read in papers and on the Internet. Discernment starts with healthy skepticism, and includes data literacy and critical thinking skills."
CHECKLIST TO SEPARATE FACT FROM FICTION
"News Literacy" aims to be a resource for educators working to develop the ability of students to objectively evaluate the news and prevent the potential destructive effects of false information masquerading as fact.
The book includes
- a comprehensive list of 100 different "fake news" indicators in checklist format,
- real-life examples of what to look for in plain language,
- and, for teachers, suggestions for lessons or instructional activities.
"News Literacy" draws on real life and recent examples to illustrate the challenges and solutions to the "fake news" issue, but seeks to avoid polarizing politics.
"It is possible to teach this topic without taking sides as the checklists provide a method for the student, teacher or even citizen to independently evaluate the news as a Do-It-Yourself project," Janke says.
THE OBSTACLE WITHIN
While the book lays out the tools, Janke notes an obstacle that still looms large for each individual who seeks the truth.
"The biggest hurdle is within us to have the courage to objectively evaluate the news and, when presented with better evidence, be willing to change our opinions and decisions."