Teaching Skeptical Consumption

I would consider myself to be a fairly skeptical consumer of online news and media.  On an average day, the majority of my exposure to online news stories would come from social media sites such as Facebook or Instagram.  I find that I most often regard the news headlines with the automatic assumption that they have been grossly exaggerated for the shock value to increase the number of views and hits they receive.  However, when I come across a headline that I find personally relevant, I always check the news source first.  If it’s a known and reputable publication, for example linked from The Regina Leader Post website, I’ll most often go to visit their website in order to view the article directly from the source.

After considering my personal consumption of online media and news, I’ve come to the conclusion that a big reason why I look at the news source, is because it’s the way in which I was raised to view and understand news.  Growing up I got my facts from the newspaper while reading it with my dad at the breakfast table.  Through this shared experience, we engaged in dialogue about what we were reading, which gave me the opportunity to form opinions and gain an overall better understanding of what was going on around our city, our country, and our world.

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This, unfortunately, is not the experience that many of our students have in their news consumption.  I would venture to guess that many of our students have been exposed to technological devices for the majority of their lifetime, and may not have received adequate lessons in terms of how to be socially aware and responsible consumers, and distributors, of online information.  This begs the question, what can we, as educators, do to ensure that we facilitate the experiences that create the most digitally aware citizens?  As Amy  shared as content catalyst, “We need to teach students how to use technology and social media appropriately and responsibly… We can’t assume they are using it appropriately for the classroom context.”  She raised several good ideas in terms of what teachers can do to create a strong environment for learning including, monitoring use for transparency, remain cognitive of student access, ensure that tech. use adheres to curriculum, and educate students about plagiarism.

Joe directed us towards Harry Dyer’s TedTalk in which he discusses how the rise of social media is not destroying communication as many fear, but rather it’s enhancing it.  They have become proficient in interacting in a new way, and many who are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the digital world may not understand just how this type of communication functions.  I believe this is why it’s so important that teachers continue to learn and engage alongside their students in developing their digital citizenship.  Teachers need to actively construct lessons that call upon the technical students that their students are familiar and comfortable with, and utilize that opportunity to ensure that their students are developing their citizenship in a responsible and meaningful way.  Teachers need to utilize the technology present within the classroom to teach their students the skills to become responsible consumers and distributors of information, rather than simply telling them how to be skeptical, build it into the lessons and learning that takes place within the classroom.

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4 thoughts on “Teaching Skeptical Consumption

  1. Hi Bree! Thanks for the great post. I find it SO interesting that you brought up the fact that reading the newspaper and having conversations regarding what you were reading was such an important part of your growing and learning. I agree with you that those skills are lost and the need for instant gratification and approval have overtaken the way kids learn now. Everything gets shared too quickly and spread too quickly before any fact checking, conversations or thought is in place. Check out the video I posted on Google plus. Great job. See you on April 30.

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  2. This quote from your blog post is great, ” Teachers need to utilize the technology present within the classroom to teach their students the skills to become responsible consumers and distributors of information, rather than simply telling them how to be skeptical”, and I totally agree with you. If we don’t give our students the tools that they need to think for themselves and to be able to navigate the digital world, we are doing them a disservice. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. “Growing up I got my facts from the newspaper while reading it with my dad at the breakfast table. Through this shared experience, we engaged in dialogue about what we were reading, which gave me the opportunity to form opinions and gain an overall better understanding of what was going on around our city, our country, and our world.”

    This is awesome and something I want to do more often with my own children. There just simply is not enough of this going on. Imagine if more people were raised to critically consume the news and form their opinions from a young age…

    Thank you for sharing this.

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