Showing posts with label Information Literacy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Information Literacy. Show all posts

Monday, October 1, 2018

Mind Over Media - New Resource for Teaching Propaganda and Media Literacy

This is a guest post from writer and researcher Beth Holland (@brholland).

I first met Professor Renee Hobbs from the Media Education Lab last spring at the SXSWedu conference. She led a fascinating discussion about how to foster media literacy and digital literacy in an age of machine learning and Artificial Intelligence. Towards the end of the session, she posed a question that has perplexed me for months: how do we help students develop critical literacies such that they comprehend what media might be telling them when they cannot readily view the biases behind the algorithms generating that information? In other words, when students are constantly surrounded by media and messages, how can they quickly, efficiently, and accurately identify propaganda or bias versus information?

This week, in collaboration with a team of scholars from the European Union, Professor Hobbs announced the launch of Mind Over Media - a free online resource devoted to helping individuals understand how to recognize and interpret propaganda in media. This site expands an earlier project that Professor Hobbs completed with the United States Holocaust Museum.

Whereas the initial project focused specifically on propaganda and the rise of Naziism during World War II, the Mind Over Media project addresses the broader idea of propaganda in the 21st century. A teachers page includes a complete curriculum as well as eight lesson plans. Teachers can create a free account to curate media for their lessons and view sample, teacher-created custom galleries. Because the platform includes a crowdsourcing feature to encourage educators to share more examples of propaganda, the library of available media will continue to grow.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Design Of Information - Empowering Students To Create Authentic Visuals

This week I am giving some guest bloggers an opportunity to share their ideas with you. This is a guest post from Mercer Hall and Patricia Russac. 

Students with access to tablets, laptops, and digital devices today are blessed with a wealth of visual resources at their fingertips. At the same time, they are inundated with graphics from smartphones, streaming media, and video games. As a consequence, rightly or wrongly, most children think of themselves as visual learners. The potential is steep for apps and web tools that invite students to create their own educational images. The risk, however, is that these pictorial projects will fail to actually illuminate any information and will instead result in a mess of colors, layouts, and fonts.

We’ve been experimenting this year with a few specific iOS and Internet resources to emphasize visual design as a way of adding context to content. We abide by the strict saying, “Content first, pretty second.” At the same time, we try to introduce students to the importance of visual displays in communicating information cleanly and effectively. These visual skills center on decoding and encoding. Students can “read” images to comprehend the essential meanings, and they can also generate graphics themselves to demonstrate thematic mastery.


Our middle schoolers, for example, use the Smore website to create digital portfolios of their work. They curate their creations across all of their subjects, storing them in a sharable digital archive. Smore is a free, flexible, open-ended resource originally billed as a tool for designing posters and flyers. Its user-friendly nature to embed and link media, however, makes it an ideal space for students to collect their visual projects. Teachers, too, can use Smore for cataloging class portfolios, to share electronically with parents and to maintain safely in a cloud-based platform.

Infographics also make for elegant visual presentations to arrange facts and figures. Although infographics have saturated the modern business climate, they are still emerging in the educational world as canvases for student work. Our students use the Visualize and PicCollage apps on their iPads to fashion social studies graphics about country statistics. Because they blend words, pictures, and data, infographics can be key tools to simplify and reimagine course material. They also make children aware of the media potential for bias in advertising. Even elementary learners enjoy the practice with color, fonts, and layout as they refine the clarity of their images.

Sketchnoting can offer another avenue for marrying class content with students’ individual learning preferences. Our students combine multi-sensory note-taking with the interactive possibilities of Thinglink. Sketchnoting by hand is an expressive, higher order process of capturing information that offers choice in exploring the visual metaphors of a day’s learning. Then, students can photograph their drawings using the iPad and upload their images to Thinglink. They annotate their illustrations with Thinglink hot spots, featuring paragraphs from their class blogs. These dynamic designs can be embedded or shared via social media like Twitter.

Overall, our students appreciate that well-designed visuals are rewarding in personalizing the understanding of content. As teachers, we see improvement in the way children internalize content and look carefully at their creations. This literacy in rendering optical inputs speaks to the interrelated nature of our students’ visual world.

Mercer Hall and Patricia Russac are K-8 teachers and media specialists in Roslyn, New York. They are also the co-founders of The American Society For Innovation Design In Education and co-editors of the ASIDE blog (@theASIDEblog), whose work has been featured in Edutopia, EdTech Magazine, and other outlets. They write about technology and literacy in publications such as ISTE’s Learning & Leading With Technology, Edsurge, and Al Jazeera.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

RADCAB - A Website Evaluation Framework for Students

Thanks to Patty Eyer today I learned about a great mnemonic acronym to help students remember a process for website evaluation. RADCAB, which you can learn about at RADCAB.com, stands for relevancy, appropriateness, detail, currency, authority, and bias. The RADCAB website provides a short explanation of each of the aspects of evaluation and why they are significant.

Applications for Education
Teaching students about RADCAB could be a great way to help them remember what to look for when they are evaluating websites. The RADCAB website provides an information assessment rubric that you can download for free.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

GLEAN Information Literacy Tools

From the same folks who bring us the Boolify Project comes two other useful tools for teaching information literacy skills. The GLEAN Comparison Search engine is a tool that allows users to compare search results for "positive" and "negative" perspectives side-by-side. For example, if I search using the term "Libya" I will be presented with lists of positive and negative terms. Clicking on those terms will change my results and give me quick comparison options.

Another neat tool from GLEAN is their WhoIs search tool. The WhoIs search tool is designed to help students evaluate the source of the information on a particular website. I'm not as impressed by GLEAN's WhoIs search as I am with their other information literacy tool for two reasons. First, they seem to be implying that .org domains have more validity than .com domains. Second, under "what can you learn from its ownership" they simply direct to the WhoIs registry which often takes you to a domain by proxy registry that masks the real ownership of a domain. (I use one of those myself so that my home address isn't public). Overall though, the intent of GLEAN's WhoIs search tool is good and worth showing to students as long as you clarify those two points that I made for them.