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.

Teacherrogers Products
Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Higher Education, Adult Education, Homeschooler, Staff, Not Grade Specific - TeachersPayTeachers.com

My Courses Available on Schoology’s Public Resources

In my departure from a College that uses Schoology, I thought of ways that I might be able to save my online course designs for future use even though my new workplace doesn’t use this learning management system (LMS).  Fortunately, I was able to save the entire course files, not just the individual material.

First, I saved them to my Schoology personal Resources (aka Home), then I downloaded the courses as Common Cartridge (IMACC or Zip) files for future use. The Instructional Mangement System (IMS) Global Learning Consortium states that Common Cartridge is a formatting standard for the interoperability of content within other systems. See their Brief Primer on Common Cartridge Conformance. In Schoology, you can upload and export these types of course files. See the Schoology Help Center on this topic.

I also decided to share them on Schoology’s Public Resources so others can use them. To be clear, I’m only sharing the content that I created. See Figure 1 for the location of these free resources. Schoology doesn’t make it easy to locate by name, so you’ll need to filter the results by Resource Type (higher ed) and File Format (folder), etc.

Screenshot of the Schoology interface displaying the Public Resources icon on the left-hand side. The icon has a bookshelf with a globe beside it.
Figure 1. Schoology’s Public Resources

Anyone can sign up for an individual Schoology account to access them if their institution does not subscribe to this LMS. Here are the two courses that I shared:

  • Accessibility Workshop for Online Learning in Distance Education – I used this for faculty professional development for meeting accessibility federal guidelines in course design.
  • Critical Reading 101 Demo Hybrid Course – I used this for an actual developmental reading course for college students and as a demonstration course for faculty training purposes.

Schoology users can share their courses and other content on its Public Resources by selecting the bookshelf with globe icon beside the material in your personal resources. See Figure 2 for location. If you use either of my course content, I would love to hear about it!

Screenshot of Schoology user's Personal Resources with pop-up comment beside Public Resources icon indicating to share if selected.
Figure 2. Schoology’s Public Resources sharing tool

Continue reading “My Courses Available on Schoology’s Public Resources”

My K-5 Elementary School Literature Products on Sale at TPT

I’m a teacher-author on TeachersPayTeachers.com (aka #TPT). I’m having a 20% off sale for the holidays from 12/18/18 to 12/21/18. Here are the descriptions of a few of my seasonal elementary products aligned with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Gingerbread Man with bow tie near stack of other cookies says, "Catch me if you can, I'm the Gingerbread Man!"

K-2 Story Illustration: The Gingerbread Man

This is an 18-page document with text from story retold by Sandra Rogers in which students are provided space to illustrate the story to match the meaning described in the text. Twelve vocabulary words are boldface typed within the story with definitions provided on a glossary page. It includes a vocabulary pretest.  The end purpose is to have students read it to their parents or other students in the school.  Students will be eager to learn new words such as plump, almonds, and hay so that they can accurately illustrate their self-made booklet.  This activity correlates to the following Common Core State Standards (CCSS) on Speaking and Listening (SL): Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:
Kinder: #5. Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail.
Grade 1: #5. Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
Grade 2: #5. Create audio recordings of stories or poems; add drawings or other visual displays to stories or recounts of experiences when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings. (Note: The text and drawings can serve as the storyboard for recordings.)

Other similar products include the following.

Image of Santa on sleigh pulled by reindeer

K-3 Poetry Illustration: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas #CCSS SL.K.5, SL.1.5, SL.2.5, SL.3.5

K-3 Holiday Literacy Pack Bundled product includes those mentioned in this blog post plus 2 literacy center posters (Reading and Writing), a literacy activity checklist, and a generic strategy usage form for self-evaluation. #CCSS SL.K.5, SL.1.5, SL.2.5, SL.3.5


Pine Wreath with burlap flowers from Colonial Williamsburg

Wintertime in Colonial Williamsburg 5th Grade PowerPoint Presentation

The 15 images in the presentation are photos taken of Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia in the winter. The purpose of the presentation is to give students a glimpse of colonial life. The photos include children’s toys, holiday wreaths, a bedroom, chamber pot, a kitchen, a dining room, a coal-burning furnace, a cellar, a garden maze, the Governor’s Palace (The Wythe House), the Royal Capitol, a home, wallpaper, a horse-drawn carriage, and a soldier’s drum. The PowerPoint slides include brief lecture notes.


*These literature activities are also available for sale individually. Other products include Spanish language editions.

Thank you for shopping Teacherrogers store!

Happy holidays,

Sandra Rogers, Ph.D.
Instructional Designer

Dear First Generation College Student,

Dr. Rogers shows participants the various learning activities provided in StudyMate program

Dear First Generation College Student,

Decades ago, I was you. Specifically, I was first-generation low-income (#FLI). Now, I have a doctorate and teach and train others. As an undergraduate, this was not my goal, as I simply pursued a single college degree and a good job. Math, science, and writing were difficult topics for me due to poor reading skills and lack of academic vocabulary. Why? Several variables lead to poor reading and vocabulary, some of which may apply to you. These insights are based on my past experience as an FLI college student and work experience as a developmental reading instruction specialist:

  • Lack of prior practice reading (e.g., no library visits or books around the house due to lack of funds, free time, or low priority/value);
  • Lack of K-12 homework help (e.g., no available time with a parent, parent unable to tackle homework or no funds for tutors);
  • No direct instruction of reading skills and strategies in secondary school (i.e., generally secondary schools focus solely on writing skills in English class); and
  • Peer or family pressure for the practical status quo.

Lacking academic vocabulary is a snowball effect because, with each scholastic year, more vocabulary is taught or otherwise required of you. Don’t fret, with a lot of effort and a growth mindset, you can decrease the gap between you and your high-achieving peers. Tackle your reading assignments early by previewing (skimming and scanning) and looking up unknown words. Keep a log of useful words to reuse in your writing assignments. Use software applications such as electronic flashcards and Grammarly.

Here are some reading comprehension strategies & study aids:

  • Use this online form to review, summarize, study, and think about your reading assignment: Student Guides & Strategies
  • SQ4R: Interact with the text by following the SQ4R strategies: survey, question, read, respond, record, and review. This originated from Robinson’s (1970) SQ3R study method of survey, question, read, recite, and review.
  • Cornell Note-Taking was developed by Walter Paulk at Cornell University in the 1940s and is still used today. Download Cornell’s PDF to use.
  • Learn how to read a scientific article with these Study Guides & Strategies.

This presentation provides some metacognitive strategies to improve your reading skills for college: (Cook, 1989)

For more information on metacognitive strategies, and to access a student learning organizer, visit my college’s LibGuide on Learning Strategies.

References

Cook, D. M. (1989). Meta-cognitive behaviours of good and poor readers: Strategic learning in the content areas. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.  

Robinson, F. P. (1970). Effective Study (4th Edition). New York, NY: Harper & Row.


Sandra Annette Rogers, Ph.D.

Teacherrogers Products
Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Higher Education, Adult Education, Homeschooler, Staff, Not Grade Specific - TeachersPayTeachers.com

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.

Teacherrogers Products
Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Higher Education, Adult Education, Homeschooler, Staff, Not Grade Specific - TeachersPayTeachers.com

The Gingerbread Man Doesn’t Escape Common Core

Gingerbread Man with bow tie near stack of other cookies says,
Students illustrate the text.

Continue reading “The Gingerbread Man Doesn’t Escape Common Core”

My Dissertation Abstract on MMORPGs to Improve ESL Skills

A Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game with Language Learning Strategic Activities to Improve English Grammar, Listening, Reading, and Vocabulary

Brightly colored winged-ferry is learning about a quest from a farmer in his field.
Example of roleplay in EverQuestII

This mixed-methods-collective-case-study focused on the use of an online videogame combined with second language acquisition (SLA) strategic gameplay to improve English language learners’ (ELLs) grammar, listening, reading, and vocabulary. Its purpose was to determine whether a noneducational, massively, multiplayer, online, role-playing game (MMORPG) had educational merit as an extracurricular activity for ELLs when combined with the following gaming activities to promote SLA: voice and text-based chats, forming alliances, and creating a virtual social identity.

The design included 15 participants who received 25 hours of weekly English language instruction in reading, writing, grammar, and oral skills for an eight-week term at school. For the treatment group, EverQuest® II (2016) was prescribed with the SLA optimizing strategic gameplay for four hours a week for a month after school. The control group did not receive the treatment.

The Cambridge Michigan Language Assessment (CaMLA) pretest-posttest composite mean gain scores were used to assess the participants’ grammar, listening, reading, and vocabulary performance. At end of term, the control group outperformed the treatment group on the CaMLA by 1.7 mean gain score units.

To determine vocabulary acquisition from gameplay, I developed a vocabulary pretest-posttest based on frequently occurring words from the treatment group participants’ game chat logs. The treatment group learned, on average, 15 new words representing a 30% increase on the gameplay vocabulary test.

No correlations were found between prior gaming experience and attitude toward gaming for SLA or between prior gaming experience and ESL skill performance on the CaMLA. Due to the small sample size and nonrandom assignment, this study lacked the rigor and statistical power to make valid and reliable quantitative claims of the findings. Therefore, a collective case study and mixed methods were used to corroborate and augment findings. Four impact profiles of extreme cases are provided. Emergent themes on gaming and language learning gleaned from participants were as follows: most participants had a positive attitude toward videogame play for SLA, most treatment group participants disliked the prescribed SLA strategic gameplay features and activities, and most participants preferred not to play videogames after school due to other priorities.


This dissertation is available on ProQuest.

Rogers, S. A. (2017). A MMORPG with language learning strategic activities to improve English grammar, listening, reading, and vocabulary (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (UMI No. 10265484)