At Credo, we continue to hear from librarians who are teaching students to discern factual material from disinformation. Various methods of doing so abound, but which one is right for your students? The welcome news is that there’s no need to use one particular resource—a wealth of materials exists online, some created by librarians for their students, others created for more general audiences.Try bouncing ideas off non-librarians, too. Members of the public—your family for instance—are now routinely exposed to the idea of “fake news” and might have solid ideas of what could work to combat it. They’re not in the “librarian bubble” that we are and might have some outside-the-box thoughts. A chat with one of my family members, for example, unearthed the notion that it could be worth asking students about a belief they have that can’t be shaken, to combat the idea that “everything is fake now.” Ask them why they believe what they do. Can the same reasoning behind finding that idea truthful be applied to new situations?
Turning back to the web, a great source is this cartoon from factcheckingday.com (yes, there is a fact checking day—appropriately, it is April 2, when we’re all recovering from some tall tales. In an eye-catching way, the cartoon introduces techniques such as image search and shows students how to do them. The site also offers a handy lesson plan.
Also useful is this free two-hour class in fact-checking from the Poynter Institute. Some of the techniques described in it are likely already familiar to you and your students, but you might find some new tricks there. Given that the course is free and online, it would be a handy prerequisite or “flipped-learning” opportunity for critical thinking or information literacy classes.
What techniques have you used to teach fact checking to students? Please let us know in the comments!