Navigating Post-Truth Societies: Strategies, Resources, and Technologies

The blog was originally posted on the AACE Review by Sandra Rogers.

The Problem

While fake news and information bubbles are not new, awareness of their impact on public opinion has increased. The Wall Street Journal (2016) reported on a study that found secondary and postsecondary students could not distinguish between real and sponsored content in Internet searches. This became apparent when observing my college-bound niece google her bank on the Internet and quickly click the name at the top of the list within the sponsored content and then have the computer freeze from a potential malware attack. If teenagers cannot discern between promoted and regular content, imagine their encounters with fake news. The WSJ article recommended lateral reading (i.e., leave site to learn about it) and for adults to ask teens about their selection choices during Internet searches. In the instance with my niece, she was unaware of sponsored content. She also didn’t know that the first item in a browser’s search results generally is strategically pushed to the top because of search engine optimization (SEO) with keywords (meta-tagging).

Figure 1. Tag cloud of words from blog post

How can we help? What are good heuristics to determine the quality of online content?

Solution 1. Critical Reading and Thinking Skills

Determine the purpose of the Website by its domain (e.g., .com, .org, .gov). Analyze its content and graphics. Analytical questions to consider are as follows:

  • Is it current? Broken hyperlinks indicate a lack of attention to the site.
  • Does it look professional? Is it well written?
  • Does it have a point of contact?
  • Does the writer provide proper citations?
  • What is the author’s tone? Is the content biased toward a view? If so, is it substantiated with empirical evidence? Does the author present the complete narrative or are certain important elements omitted?
  • Do the graphics illustrate a valid point? Do they make sense statistically?

Are you an IT specialist, researcher, or educator? Each field has different approaches to thinking. The strategies you select would depend upon the nature of the content, as different content requires different ways of thinking. Bruning, Schraw, and Norby (2011) refer to this as thinking frames such as how one would think about scientific inquiry and the use of research methods. If you’re an educator, you might be interested in a WebQuest I developed to help students create their own job aid for critical thinking. It asks students to tap into the critical lens of their future field of study.

Solution 2. Primary Sources

Combat fake news by seeking the original source of information. Take time to verify the authenticity of what is begin shared online. Use various sources whenever possible for triangulation (e.g., interviews, observations, and documentation). This will ensure that what you read is corroborated by other articles presenting the same information. A good legislative resource is the U.S. Government Publication Office that provides congressional records, bills, codes, and Federal Register items. Their govinfo.gov website explains how to check the integrity of a government document found on the web by revealing its verification seal upon printing. It’s a digital signature placed in their PDFs; if the document has been modified, it breaks the verification.

Solution 3. Technology Resources

Use technology to decipher the trustworthiness of online content. Several Internet browser extensions provide visible alerts. For example, the Fake News Detector extension displays the word FAKE in red capital letters or orange for CLICKBAIT/Probably FAKE on the web page. It’s available in the Chrome store along with a few others and their user ratings. I started curating reputable fact-checking tools such as PolitiFact and Snopes on my Scoop.it! e-magazine, The Critical Reader. Some extensions are application-specific such as the Official Media Bias/Fact Check Extension that determines the veracity of articles on Facebook. It provides factuality (e.g., High), references, popularity, and positionality (e.g., left-center) at the base of the article on your Facebook feed. I personally use this one displayed in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Facebook post of Smithsonian article with Official Media Bias/Fact Check results

Solution 4. Seek Professional Content

Seek information from reputable researchers and educational leaders. Most professions adhere to ethical standards as a promise to their constituents. For example, the American Educational Research Association (AERA) states that members will not fabricate, falsify, nor plagiarize “in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results (AERA Code of Ethics, 2011).” This standard is taken very seriously in the field of educational research. Those in the past that didn’t heed ethical rules have paid the cost of being outed with plagiarism tools such as was the case for the German Education Minister and Former Defense Minister’s plagiarized dissertations and subsequent unseating of their government appointments (CNN World, 2013).

As an educator, I took the Kappa Delta Pi (KDP) pledge of fidelity to humanity, science, service, and toil, as an initiate into this international honor society. The ideal of science relates to the topic of this discussion. “…This Ideal implies that, as an educator, one will be faithful to the cause of free inquiry and will strive to eliminate prejudice and superstition by withholding judgment until accurate and adequate evidence is obtained. One will not distort evidence to support a favorite theory; not be blinded by the new or spectacular; nor condemn the old simply because it is old. All this is implied in the Ideal of Science” (KDP Initiation Ceremony, 2015, p. 4).

Do you have good fact-checking resources or more solutions to share? Please share those in the comments section.

References

Brumfield, B. (2013, February 6). German education minister loses Ph.D. over plagiarized thesis. CNN World. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2013/02/06/world/europe/german-minister-plagiarism/index.html

Bruning, R. H., Schraw, G. J., & Norby, M. M. (2011). Cognitive psychology and instruction. New York, NY: Pearson.

Caplan, R., Hanson, L. & Donovan, J. (2018). Dead Reckoning Navigating Content Moderation After “Fake News”. Data & Society. Retrieved from https://datasociety.net/pubs/oh/DataAndSociety_Dead_Reckoning_2018.pdf 

Code of ethics. (2011). American Educational Research Association. Educational Researchers, 40 (3), 145-156. doi: 10.31.02/001189X11410403

Ceremonies and rituals. (2015). Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education.

Shellenbarger, S. (2016, November 21). Most students don’t know when news is fake, Stanford study finds. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/most-students-dont-know


Sandra Annette Rogers, Ph.D.

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Interview with the Creators of Hoaxy® from Indiana University

This post was previously published on the AACE Review by Sandra Rogers.

Hoaxy diffusion network of the spread of a misleading news article on vaccines via Twitter

Figure 1. A Hoaxy® diffusion network regarding claims about the HPV vaccine.

Falsehoods are spread due to biases in the brain, society, and computer algorithms (Ciampaglia & Menczer, 2018). A combined problem is “information overload and limited attention contribute to a degradation of the market’s discriminative power” (Qiu, Oliveira, Shirazi, Flammini, & Menczer, 2017).  Falsehoods spread quickly in the US through social media because this has become Americans’ preferred way to read the news (59%) in the 21st century (Mitchell, Gottfried, Barthel, & Sheer, 2016). While a mature critical reader may recognize a hoax disguised as news, there are those who share it intentionally. A 2016 US poll revealed that 23% of American adults had shared misinformation unwittingly or on purpose; this poll reported high to moderate confidence in one’s ability to identify fake news with only 15% not very confident (Barthel, Mitchell, & Holcomb, 2016).

What’s the big deal?

The Brookings Institute warned how organized disinformation campaigns are especially dangerous for democracy: “This information can distort election campaigns, affect public perceptions, or shape human emotions” (West, 2017). Hoaxes are being revealed through fact-checking sites such as FactCheck.org, Politifact.com, Snopes.com, and TruthorFiction.com. These have the potential to reveal falsehoods and provide any corresponding truth in the details or alternative facts. For example, PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter is run by the editors of The Tampa Bay Times. This tool was so crucial for checking the veracity of candidates’ statements during the 2008 Presidential campaign season that they won a Pulitzer Prize for Journalism in 2009.

Hoaxy® (beta)

Hoaxy® takes it one step further and shows you who is spreading or debunking a hoax or disinformation on Twitter.  It was developed by Indiana University Network Science Institute and the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research. The Knight Prototype grant and the Democracy Fund support it. The visuospatial interactive maps it produces are called diffusion networks and provide real-time data if you grant the program access to your Twitter account. Hoax purveyors be warned—it shows the actual Twitter user or Bot promoting it through grey, low-credibility claims. Conversely, it also displays in yellow the Twitter accounts fact-checking the claim.

Bots are determined by computer algorithms and given a score based on the science behind the Botometer with red identifying accounts most ‘Bot Like’ and blue for most ‘Human-Like’. The website’s landing page provides trending news, popular claims, popular fact-checks, and a search box for queries. The site’s Dashboard shows a list of influential Twitter accounts and number of tweets for those sharing claims or fact-checking articles with the corresponding Botometer Score.

Use Hoaxy® to find out who is at the center of a hoax by clicking the node to reveal the Twitter account. It’s also interesting to see who the outliers are and their six degrees of separation. Select a node, and it will provide the Botometer Score and whether they quoted someone or someone quoted them (retweets) on Twitter. For example, a magician named Earl is the approximate epicenter for spreading misinformation about the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine causing an increase of cervical cancer in Swedish girls. See vaccine query visualized on Hoaxy, as in Figure 1. Based on the sharing of the article from Yournewswire.com, it had 1665 people claiming it and zero disclaimers on Twitter, as of 7/18/18. As for the facts, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV vaccines are safe and prevent cervical cancer (2018).

It was a privilege to talk to the Hoaxy project coordinator, Dr. Giovanni Ciampaglia, on behalf of his co-coordinators Drs. Alessandro Flammini and Filippo Menczer:

What was the inspiration or tipping point to invent Hoaxy®?

We started Hoaxy because we could not find a good tool that would let us track the spread of misinformation on social media. The main inspiration was a project called Emergent (emergent.info), which was a really cool attempt at tracking rumors spreading through the news media. However, it was a completely manual effort by a group of journalists, and it was hard to scale to social media, where there are just so many stories published at once. So, we set out with the idea in mind of building a platform that would work in a completely automated fashion.

Since its creation in 2016, what are some of the overhauls that the Hoaxy® software program required for updates?

Hoaxy has evolved quite a bit since we first launched in 2016. The main overhaul was a complete redesign of its interface, during which we also integrated our social bot detection classifier called Botometer. In this way, Hoaxy can be used to understand the role and impact of social bots in the spread of both misinformation, and of low-credibility content in general.

What are some of the unexpected uses of Hoaxy?

We were not entirely expecting it when we first heard it, but several educators use Hoaxy in their classrooms to teach about social media literacy. This is of course really exciting for us because it shows the importance of teaching these skills and of using interactive, computational techniques for doing so.

What hoax is currently fact-checked the most?

Hoaxes are constantly changing, so it’s hard to keep track of what is a most fact-checked hoax. However, Hoaxy shows what fact-checks have been shared the most in the past 30 days, which gives you an idea of the type of hoaxes that are circulating on social media at any given time.

What’s the most absurd claim you encountered?

There are just too many… my favorite ones have to do with ancient prophecies and catastrophes (usually about asteroids and other astronomical objects).

Has Hoaxy® won any awards? (If not, what type of award categories does it fit in?)

It has not won an award (yet!). We are grateful however to the Knight Foundation Prototype Fund and to the Democracy Fund, who supported the work of integrating Botometer into Hoaxy.

I noted Mihai Avram’s (Indiana University graduate student) work on Fakey, a teaching app on discerning disinformation that is gamified. Are you involved with overseeing that project as well?

Yes, Filippo is involved in it. Mihai has also worked on Hoaxy; in fact, without him, the current version of Hoaxy would have certainly not been possible!

What are some other resource projects your team is working on now?

Hoaxy is part of the Observatory on Social Media (osome.iuni.iu.edu), and we provide several other tools for open social media analytics (osome.iuni.iu.edu/tools). We are working on improving Hoaxy and making it operable with other tools. The ultimate goal would be to bring Hoaxy into the newsroom so that reporters can take advantage of it as part of their social media verification strategies.

What type of research is critically needed to better understand the spread of disinformation and its curtailing?

We definitely need to better understand the “demand” side of dis/misinformation — what makes people vulnerable to misinformation? The complex interplay between social, cognitive, and algorithmic vulnerabilities is not well understood at the moment. This will need a lot of investigation. We also need more collaboration between academia, industry, civil society, and policymakers. Platforms are starting to open up a little to partnering with outside researchers, and there will be much to learn on all sides.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Yes! We are always happy to hear what users think about our tools, and how we can improve them. To contact us you can use email, Twitter, or our mailing list. More information here: http://osome.iuni.iu.edu/contact/

About Giovanni Ciampaglia

Dr. Ciampaglia is an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of South Florida. Previously, he was an assistant research scientist and postdoctoral fellow at the Indiana University Network Science Institute, where he collaborated on information diffusion with Drs. Menczer and Flammini and co-created Hoaxy. Prior to that, he was a research analyst contractor at the Wikimedia Foundation. He has a doctorate in Informatics from the University of Lugano in Switzerland. His research interest is in large-scale, collective, social phenomena on the Internet and other complex social phenomena such as the emergence of social norms.

References

Barthel, M., Mitchell, A., & Holcomb, J. (December 2016). Many Americans believe fake news is sowing confusion. Trusts, Facts, & Democracy. Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/2016/12/15/many-americans-believe-fake-news-is-sowing-confusion/

Ciampaglia, G. L., & Menczer, F. (June 2018). Misinformation and biases infect social media, both intentionally and accidentally. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/misinformation-and-biases-infect-social-media-both-intentionally-and-accidentally-97148

Mitchell, A., Gottfried, J., Barthel, M., & Shearer, E. (July 2016). The modern news consumer. Trusts, Facts, & Democracy. Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/2016/07/07/the-modern-news-consumer/

Qiu, X., Oliveira, D., Shirazi, S., Flammini, A., & Menczer, F. (2017). Limited individual attention and online virality of low-quality information. Nature Human Behavior, 1(132). doi:10.1038/s41562-017-0132

West, D. M. (2017). How to combat fake news and disinformation. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/research/how-to-combat-fake-news-and-disinformation/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI2eK5nbrA3AIVDgFpCh1k1wepEAAYASAAEgIL0PD_BwE


Sandra Annette Rogers, Ph.D.

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An Observer’s Notes on the Socratic Method in Action

Scorates talking to a man who is eagerly listening at his side.
Image source: Wikimedia
Here are my notes from the dialectic dialogue of the Socratic Seminar: An International Forum on Socratic Teaching held at the Association of Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) conference in Jacksonville, Florida in 2017.  I attended to learn more about the #Socratic method in general but also to learn how to apply it to the academic task of advising doctoral students’ dissertation writing. This is what occurred in a simulated environment with a doctoral student, her advisor, and a panel of experts. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen offered at a conference—and far few people saw it, as the panel outnumbered the attendees.  I took notes for future reference and also to share with the student who was the target for this activity.
 
Introduction by Adviser, Dr. Abbas Johari: “This is a respectful dialogue between master and student….An example would be guided questions for the learner…Panelists should not make a statement but bring her to an understanding of a concept via questioning.”
Topic of Dissertation:  The student, Cheng Miaoting, gave a brief overview of her dissertation titled,  Technology Acceptance of LMS in Postsecondary Schools in Hong Kong.
MethodologyStudent used survey and interview methods to address several variables (e.g., SES, environment, context) based on the technology acceptance model (TAM 3).
Panels’ Questions: Each expert asked the student a question while she listened. I was not always able to attribute who said what as I feverishly took notes. Please understand the missing attributions.  See link below for panelists’ names.
  1. What is the problem? Tech or culture?
  2. What are you expecting to find? Recommendation for action? The assumption is __________.
  3. What are the assumptions underlying acceptance? Why is this good? Response to facilitate learning?
  4. Which theory will you use and why?
  5. Which variables affect learning?
Dr. Michael Thomas’ statement: “Tool has no agenda as in gun law. Is it possible to argue if a bad thing?” He recommended seeing Technological Sublime (aka Machine Messiah).
Dr. Amy Bradshaw’s statement: “What is modernity with Chinese characteristics?” Deficit ideology where X fixes them, whereas X is tech, mainland Chinese are needing a fix and solution is technology.
Adviser’s Guidance to Student: He told his student to address the master’s guidance by asking the following questions or to paraphrase what she had learned. She had a question about the term ‘factors’ in research.
Panel Questions continued:
6. What type of psychological adaptation will you use? Acculturation Framework? Cat mentioned Hofstede’s but panel discouraged it based on its hostility and stereotypical frame.
7. Fundamentally, what is the burning question you want to answer? The human question—why you want to do it. Solve one problem at a time.
8. How do things change in society? Need theory on societal change.
9. Why are immigrants coming to HK?
10. What are schools doing to address this? (Here is where you addressed the practical significance or human question, which was the missing piece of training for technology.)
11. Have you looked at other countries tech adaption for immigrants?
Adviser called for Debrief: The student acknowledged the need to focus study and reflect. She will reach out to other researchers to negotiate understanding, as was done today. She will talk in practical terms and not just in research methodology.
Panel Debriefed with Suggestions: 
  • Free yourself, but 1-directional.
  • What is the one thing they do not want you to talk about? That is your research questions.
  • Focus on commonality and not just differences.
  • Find ways to hear immigrants to inform study.
  • Remember the humane as well as the human.
  • Have an open mind in research design—always question research design.
  • Look at the polarity of human existence. What is up/down? In/out? What is not there? What’s obvious? Hidden? Who implemented these types of change?
  • Listen to your adviser.
  • See work by Charles Reigeluth and Carl Rogers.

Here is a link to the #AECT conference abstract and list of panel members.


Sandra Annette Rogers, Ph.D.

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What I’m doing to help combat disinformation online

A word cloud based on a blog about fake news detection resources.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the past two years reading and figuring out how to use technology and critical thinking to identify false information. I realized that I hadn’t posted anything on my personal blog about it. Instead, I’ve blogged about it on the academic site, the AACE Review. In Navigating Post-Truth Societies, I provided useful strategies, resources, and technologies. For example, if you’re still on Facebook, use Official Media Bias/Fact Check Extension to determine the accuracy of posted articles. In my review of Data & Society’s Dead Reckoning, I summarized why it’s so difficult for humans and machine algorithms to defeat fake news. I also summarized Data & Society’s article on whose manipulating the media and why. Recently, I interviewed the creators of Hoaxy to learn more about their social diffusion network that pinpoints claims posted on Twitter. Again, all of these are available on the AACE Review blog.

Additionally, I’ve been curating useful strategies and technologies for students to use to combat fake news on Scoop.It. The e-magazine is called The Critical Reader. This digital curation has useful videos, articles, games, and technology tools for detecting biased or false information. For example, it describes how the Open Mind Chrome extension not only detects fake news but also provides veritable articles instead. The target audience would be for high school and college students. Let me know if you would like to collaborate on this endeavor.

Lastly, I wrote my first chapter for an academic book on the curation of your online data, which includes strategies, technologies, and lessons on digital citizenship for secondary students. It’s titled, Curation of Your Online Persona through Self-Care and Responsible Citizenship. It promotes benevolent intention and reflection in students’ online interactions through participatory practices, hopefully, to avoid spreading misinformation and hate.


Sandra Annette Rogers, Ph.D.

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Interrelated Processes: Problem-solving, Critical Thinking and Creative Thinking

Do you think that problem solving, critical thinking, and creative thinking are synonymous?

In order to solve problems effectively and efficiently, you need to use creative thinking and critical thinking.  Jonassen (2000) created a typology of problem solving.  He identified 11 types of problems: logical problems, algorithms, story problems, rule using problems, decision-making, trouble-shooting, diagnoses solution, strategic performance, case analysis, designs, and dilemmas.  He described each type of problem’s resolution process.  For example, if a problem presents limited variables that can be controlled through manipulation, then an analyst would know that they have a logical problem by referring to Jonassen’s typology chart.  Logical problems are “discovered” in Jonassen’s description of its structuredness, where discovered refers to solutions drawn from logic.  Determining the logic model is a type of critical thinking process.  Problem solving depends on the type of problem and its structuredness, context, inputs, abstractness, and activities (Jonassen, 2004).  Therefore, one should critically analyze the type of problem and its structuredness.

The overarching strategy for problem analysis involves the steadfast engagement of critical thinking processes.  Using a systematic process assists you with adequately thinking though the complexity and multifarious components of problem solving.  Some instructional design approaches ask questions in a stepwise process to analyze problems.  For example, Harless’ (1974) first question in the process of front-end analysis (FEA) asks: “Do we have a problem?”  Learners must use critical thinking to avoid making assumptions about a situation.  Is it a problem or an opportunity?  Dick, Carey, and Carey (2009) suggested that novice instructional designers develop their critical thinking skills to become effective performance analysts.  They urged analysts to be open-minded and view problems from multiple perspectives.  Critical thinking processes include synthesis of a problem statement, FEA, triangulation of data collection, root cause analysis, active listening, system-wide checks and balances, and reflective thinking.  Thinking critically helps you avoid various FEA pitfalls such as Groupthink.

Addressing a problem strategically takes some creative thinking.  For example, there are timesaving strategies and models for problem analysis such as Jonassen’s idea of keeping a fault database.  When I read about this, I thought of how simple, yet, creative this strategy was.  Have you heard of Toyoda’s Why Tree? It’s a creative and simple technique for getting to the root cause of a problem.  He first used the method in the Toyota manufacturing process in 1958.  It consists of five why-questions that represent deeper levels of understanding the problem.  For each answer, you ask why until you uncover the true root cause.  Responses are mapped out according to different leads/reasons.  There are three benefits to using this process.  First, the different branches/reasons that stem from a problem statement can lead to more than one root cause and various interventions.  Second, it creates a mental map for synthesis of a presenting problem.  Third, it aids novice analysts in digging deeper to uncover the real root causes and avoid superficial conclusions.  This creative process utilizes deductive reasoning, which is a type of critical thinking.  Therefore, critical thinking, creative thinking, and problem solving are interrelated processes but not interchangeable terms.

Why I Think Non-violent Video Games Are a Valuable Learning Environment

Students wearing decorated boxes on their heads and hip to  look like characters from the Minecraft video game
Students in Minecraft Costumes at FIRST Robotics Competition

Gee’s (2007) description of semiotic domains reminds me of what my language peers refer to as multiple literacies; that’s the literacy required to perform a task beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic.  Semiotic domain refers to the ability to detect the signs, symbols, merit, value, and language of a particular activity in order to function properly within it. For example, children who play video games are learning the semiotic domain of that particular game environment.  If they’re playing Minecraft, then they’ll learn to appreciate their physical surroundings, system alerts, personal alliances, and any help section embedded within the game.  In essence, the game’s affordances, and their role within it, become the semiotic domain that must be learned in order for the learner to be successful.

I don’t think that children should play violent video games for these same reasons.  Even though the Supreme Court declared no age-limit to graphically violent video games in 2011 (due to the lack of evidence in inciting violence among young players), I believe the semiotic domain of those violent actions become imprinted on the child.  Due to the potentially harmful activity, scientists cannot properly study this phenomenon.

Gee stated that video gaming offers important semiotic domains which include active problem-solving, critical thinking, and unique language functions (“design grammar”) in-world as an avatar and in real life as a gamer playing the game.  Additionally, the learner discovers how they would react in new situations; they can replay the situation to manipulate outcomes.  In this way, the learner is able to make corrective actions on their own or through resets by termination. We seldom get the opportunity to manipulate our outcomes in real life. These are a few of the reasons why I think that nonviolent gaming is a valuable learning domain.

When I taught preschool at the University of California’s laboratory elementary school, I encountered parents who disliked my use of the series called Rotten Ralph by Jack Gantos. It’s a story about an undisciplined cat that always gets into trouble.  I thought the book would make a nice counter match with the popular Clifford the Big Red Dog series by Norman Bridwell. Clifford causes trouble not because he’s undisciplined but rather because of his large size.  Hence, he was not really ever in trouble for misbehaving.  I liked how Rotten Ralph showed that even if you act badly, your family will still love you and want you around. Children need to know that there’s room for error in their development of knowledge about the world around them.  In a sense, gaming can provide that error-safe environment—a world of resets.

Children should participate fully in semiotic domains to produce virtual objects, create alliances, and develop new meanings.  In Minecraft, they can create Lego-like structures for their alliances (guilds) and learn to survive various physical threats to self and environmental threats to their structure(s). This affords the child the feeling of accomplishment. Children still learn about life and death but not in a graphically violent way. Play is beneficial for humans’ assimilation and accommodation throughout life.  Piaget first posited this in his theory of cognitive development in the 1950s, which stated that play and imitation are essential human strategies.  Nowadays, there’s little time during the school day for play. There is, however,  an emphasis in computer literacy and developing critical thinking.  Perhaps gaming could meet that demand and allow for playtime, too.

References

Gee, J. P. (2007). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

WebQuest for Creating Critical Thinking Job Aids

Silhouette of head with different objects floating overhead

I created my first academic Webquest to search for the critical thinking processes particular to a student’s field of study.  For example, I give them key words to use like “thinking frames” + “critical thinking” + “reading” + “medicine”.  Once they find 10 different resources, they are to place at least six key elements into a job aid to help them read critically.  I provided them with information on the various job aid formats from the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD).

The WebQuest was one of my assignments this past week for my doctoral course in Web-based course design. Actually, I could do it on any topic, but I choose one for a hybrid course I’m creating titled Critical Reading 101.  I already submitted the assignment but find myself going back to tweak it. Webquests are great, but they have so many little loose pieces of information that you need to tie up in a nice bow in order for it to work. Plus, there’s the fine line of providing too much help or not enough. My assignment stated less than 10 hyperlinks required; mine only has six. 

I used Zunal, which allows you to make one freebie Webquest.  There’s something wrong with their PDF maker, as it publishes the document with errors and without the hyperlinks.  Nevertheless, it’s a great site to host your Webquest or find an existing one.  Zunal serves a a job aid for creating a Webquest as it takes you through the introduction, task, process, evaluation, and conclusion.

Here’s my Webquest: http://zunal.com/webquest.php?w=250042

P.S. You can evaluate my WebQuest on the Evaluate WebQuest page.  It even offers a self-evaluation tool that was very helpful.  I still need to add the references to the Teacher Page and Common Core Standards for Grades 11-12.