Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The problem of online misinformation and the role of schools

The problem of online misinformation and the role of schools. This is a good article by Peter Levine. It appeared in Studies in Media & Information Literacy Education, Volume 5, Issue 1 (February 2005).

Most students are good at recognizing hoax sites. They know there are not really whales in the great lakes or an endangered tree octopus species in Cascadia. However, students are much poorer at being able to recognize misinformation sites created to sell products or ideologies. I am happy to see that some in the K-12 community are thinking about how to teach these critical Web evaluation skills.

From the site:

Amid all the excellent free information that is available online, there are many damagingly false assertions and misleading arguments. Distinguishing reliable from unreliable information raises complex epistemological issues and is especially difficult in an online context. Thus the Internet poses novel and serious cognitive demands. Some prominent individuals and institutions are calling for schools to prepare young people to identify reliable information online. Indeed, schools will be unable to avoid addressing this issue as an aspect of "information literacy education." However, it is unwise to expect them to solve the problems created by false and misleading information. Education is-at best-a part of the solution. A more effective approach is for governments and other major institutions to fund and promote reliable web portals.

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