Pedagogy in the ‘Post-Truth’ Era: April 18th Session

How can educators teach students to evaluate news in a post-truth era??

Oxford Dictionaries defines post-truth as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief,” which has been named the word of the year. According to a segment “Fake News” by 60 Minutes, the term fake news can be defined as “stories that are deliberately fabricated and proven false…they are lies.” However, terms like ‘true’ and ‘false’ appear to be arbitrary in that people do not agree on one definition for the terms. What one believes to be true may be perceived as false by another, and so begins the search for the truth. Fraudulent computer software is programmed with fake social media accounts to automatically ‘like’ and ‘share’ posts, which present the impression that millions have viewed and or shared the post. Once posts appear to be viewed by millions, actual people with real accounts begin to read and share those posts, producing mass distortions of the truth. 

A recent study conducted by Stanford University explored students’ abilities to determine the credibility of electronic information. 7,804 students across 12 states were administered various tasks to access their ability to analyze for credibility of the information. Sue Shellenbarger writes about the results in her article, “Most Students Don’t Know When News Is Fake, Stanford Study Finds.” Nearly 82% of middle school students were unable to identify the difference between a real news source and a “sponsored content” story, 2/3 “couldn’t see any valid reason to mistrust a post written by a bank executive arguing that young adults need more financial-planning help,” and 4/10 believed a photo solely based on the headline of the post. The article also mentions that “by age 18, 88% of young adults regularly get news from Facebook and other social media, according to a 2015 study of 1,045 adults ages 18 to 34 by the Media Insight Project.” Students excessive use of media and lack of knowledge regarding credible sources of information create the need for education on the issues. 

In the article, “Evaluating Sources in a ‘Post-Truth’ World: Ideas for Teaching and Learning About Fake News,” Katherine Schulten and Amanda Brown discuss ways of introducing the concept of fake news to students. The article discusses ways of which to increase student awareness of the various ways in which new is fabricated and how to distinguish fake from real news. Within the article, the authors provide links to various resources to help demonstrate the influence of fake news. Upon sharing an image (the same one used in the study by Stanford) to promote initial thought, the following questions can be used as discussion prompts:

  • What does the phrase “fake news” mean?
  • When have you or someone you know fallen for or shared fake or inaccurate news of some kind?
  • Why does it matter if we can’t tell real news from fake news?

Please join us for our upcoming April 18th session on “Pedagogy in the ‘Post-Truth’ Era.” Provisions’ sessions are held from 12:00-1:15 in Standish A&B. All are welcome and no reservations are required. Free lunch and refreshments will be available! Hope to see you all there!🙂

Advertisements

April 19th Provisions Session Summary: “Teaching Information Literacy in the Age of Google”

**The access the audio recording from the session, click here!**

Our last Provisions session of the Spring Semester explored the theme of” Teaching Information in the Age of Google.” Presenters shared previous experience with teaching courses dealing with literacy, and effective strategies for improving success for a diverse range of college students. An audience of approximately 35 faculty and staff members attended to hear presentations from Steve Black, LibrarianCailin Brown, Department of Communications, and a joint presentation from Elizabeth Yanoff, Department of Teacher Education and Mary Lindner, Librarian. 

Steve Black from the Library kick started the session by presenting on “Information Literacy: An evolving perspective.” Steve first provided the audience with an overview of the new definition, standards, and framework for the evolving category of “Information Literacy.” Information literacy can be defined as “a cluster of interconnected core concepts, with flexible options for implementation, rather than a set of standards or learning outcomes, or any prescriptive enumeration of skills.” This new definition of information literacy is brand new, as it was just recently adopted in January. Steve stated that following the evolving definition, information literacy is now more difficult to assess in practice. Included in the new framework for information literacy are:

  • Threshold concepts, which are like “aha moments”
  • Authority, which is considered both constructed and contextual, as opposed to strictly peer reviewed articles
  • Information creation is a process and has value
  • Research should be inquiry based
  • Scholarship as conversation, meaning that students should contribute to the knowledge conversation
  • Searching as strategic exploration

Next to present was Cailin Brown from the Department of Communications. Cailin started off by explaining how she introduces the concept of journalism to her students. She discusses the elements of journalism and then asks her students, “why journalism?” Throughout the course, Cailin will take her students on a walk around the neighborhood, which allows them “to get up and get looking.” For the fall semester, she will take the students early on in the course, and for the spring semester this will happen towards the end (due to weather conditions). Exploring the surrounding neighborhood allows her students the opportunity to make connections between the college and community. In opposition of the “stranger danger” rule, Cailin encourages her students to strike conversation with strangers. Cailin stated that by simply asking one question, you can learn an abundance about an individual, as people are very willing to share information when asked. In addition to community experience, Cailin exposes her students to the legal aspect of journalism by working closely with a local lawyer, Bob Freeman. Bob Freeman assists Cailin in teaching her class how to access public information, such as fire records. In ending her presentation, Cailin shared these two examples of her students’ journalism work that is published on The Pine Hills Blog:

Cailin also shared the website, The Committee on Open Government, which provides additional  information on the freedom of information.

Lastly, Elizabeth Yanoff from the Department of Teacher Education and Mary Lindner from the Library presented on three different ways of examining information literacy. Elizabeth and Mary reiterated the new standards of information literacy, but focused on content area reading, disciplinary literacy, and new literacies.

1. Content area reading refers to before, during, and after processes of reading comprehension.  For this type of reading, K-12 educators typically use KWL charts, which allow the students to reflect on what they already know, what they want to know, and what they learn from the particular reading. For the ECE 230 course at the college, Elizabeth discussed how she requires her students to review and edit their writing. This process encourages her students to locate their topic sentences, reflect on how their ideas were developed, and create an appropriate conclusion. 

2. Disciplinary literacy focuses on skills that are discipline specific and inquiry based. Work in a specific discipline is able to be contextualized. Educators of a discipline are able to view writing as an objective and have specific skills that allow them to excel in their discipline. Educators must be aware that their speciality allows them to view literacy with a discipline specific lens.

3. New literacies refers to the new age of digital literacy. Mary spoke about the research that Donald Leu and his colleagues have done regarding the digital age. Leu and his colleagues found that researching information should be treated like problem-solving. This means that students should identify important questions, locate relevant information, critically evaluate information, synthesize the information, communicate effectively, and monitor/evaluate along the way. Florida Memory is an online platform where students can explore specific skills needed for online learning, such as audio and video. Mary and Elizabeth spoke about how this online resource shows students how to access information, how to narrow results, and how to navigate online websites. Other online resources that are utilized for information literacy include Wimba and ZOOM (which were mentioned in the previous session, “Teaching Online.”Elizabeth shared a recent example of how she utilized technology as an online learning platform when class was cancelled due to the snow conditions. For the missing class, Elizabeth required her students to complete an online WIKI, post on Pinterest, engage in an online discussion, and post on the blog.

Following the brief presentations, the floor was opened up for discussion and questions from the audience. Here are a few points and observations that arose from the discussion:

  • There are an infinite number of stories to be written in journalism
  • There are connections across the themes of this session and the previous session about online learning
  • Suggestions to support learners across disciplines include:
    • Making more connections across work together as professors
    • All writing includes literacy skills, therefore all should teach information literacy
    • Professors should improve their communication and collaboration
    • Use the same “language” and ideas in all disciplines
  • Students are novices in their discipline and need to be taught how to prioritize information
    • Professors need to remember what it was like to be a novice, and be aware of how that can influence their work
  • How can we get support across discipline incorporated into the Liberal Education program?
  • How to get students from point A to point B?
    • Disperse information throughout the curriculum
  • How to encourage student inquiry but maintain boundaries?
    • This is a constant balancing act

The Academic Minute: Technology & Education

 

Computacion

On the Academic Minute, The Phantom Vibration Syndrome,” Robert Rosenberger describes the sensation of feeling your phone vibrate, when it actually has not vibrated at all. In a study of undergraduate students, approximately 90% reported that they experienced this “phantom vibration syndrome.” When medical staff were surveyed, approximately 70% experienced the syndrome. Although many have experienced it, only less than 2% consider the syndrome bothersome. There are many speculations as to why this occurs, including:

  • “Brain wiring” form phone useage creates cognitive pathways, which lead to the misinterpretation of other stimuli as phone vibrations.
  • Perceived phone vibrations are a side effect of a general rise in anxiety caused by technology.
  • The perceived phone vibrations are caused by a learned bodily habituation, meaning our bodies are trained to feel an incoming call or text, and thus experience the “phantom vibrations.”

On the Academic Minute, The Digital Divide,” Marshall Jones discusses that internet access has increased by 153% from 2010-2012 in North America and by 3,606% on the African continent. One-to- one programs (one computer/device for each student) are helping to close the “digital divide,” which is the separation between those with and without access to internet and technology. With one-to-one programs, internet access is almost equal to living in a city with access to a large research library.

  • A few pros of one-to-one programs are they allow:
    • creative ways to manage classrooms (45 degrees-laptops half closed)
    • free wifi hotspots for those without access at home
    • unique ways to shrink the digital divide
  • A few cons of one-to-one programs are:
    • they are expensive
    • they allow too much screen time
    • there is not enough administrative support and professional development for teachers
    • vendors oversell the benefits

Teaching Information Literacy in the Age of Google: April 19th Session

think-with-google-logo

5923055

What exactly is information literacy??

“Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.” – Association of College & Research Libraries.

Dr. Daniel Russell, a technologist who studies how people use Google to access information in a literate way, presents on “The Evolution Of Literacy. ” In approximately an hour, Dr. Russell speaks about how the electronic search system can change one’s understanding of reading, writing, and construction of knowledge.

In January 2015, The American Library Association launched an eCourse:Teaching Information Literacy To College Students. In the course, the instructor, Joanna M. Burkhardt, demonstrated how to create engaging and challenging content to help students learn how to correctly use online searching tools and techniques. Included in the course were ways in which to help students discover which sources of information are the most beneficial. To access more information about Teaching Information Literacy, you can refer to Joanna Burkhardt’s book that accompanies the course. Although the eCourse is not currently offered, it predicted to be available again in the future.

According to Temple University, there are five categories of percieved expected outcomes from students of an information literacy course. These categories include to ability to:

  1. determine the nature and degree of the information needed
  2. access information in an efficient and effective manner
  3. evaluate information critically
  4. apply the information effectively
  5. conduct infromation searching with an understanding of accompanying legal conditions (plagiarism, copyright, citations, etc.)

Courtney Kueppers reports that according to a recent survey (“Ithaka S+R US Faculty Survey”), university faculty believe that their undergraduate students do not have adequate research abilities upon arriving to college. 54% of the particiapants reported that they “strongly agreed” to statements saying that their undergraduate students had poor information seeking skills. Faculty reported the importance of the library and its resources to helping students improve their research abilities. In sum, results from survey concluded that undergraduate students may need more direct instruction of how to effectively conduct research, and faculty are willing to put in the effort.

In an effort to improve student research abilities, professors have access to a variety of sources that can help in teaching the critical skills. The Temple University and Smith College Libraries contain a collection of information literacy resources for teachers and librarians. The websites also provide links to other online resources and book references for assessments, plagiarism, and conducting research. In addition, the Association of College and Research Libraries provides an extensive collection of resources and information on the “Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.”

Project Information Literacy (PIL) is a large-scale, national study about early adults and their research habits, conducted in partnership with the University of Washington’s iSchool.” Project Information Literacy provides an extensive understanding of young adults’ information literacy abilities, lack of abilities, and patterns over time.


Please join us for our upcoming Tuesday, April 19th session on “ Teaching Information Literacy in the Age of Google.” Our esteemed presenters for the April 19th session include:

Cailin Brown-Department of Communications
Elizabeth Yanoff– Department of Teacher Education & Mary Lindner-Reference Librarian
Steve Black -Reference Librarian

Provisions’ sessions are held from 12:00-1:15 in Standish A&B. All are welcome and no reservations are required. Free lunch and refreshments will be available! Hope to see you all there!! 🙂

March 22nd Session: “Teaching Online”

online1

Online Learning…Good Or Bad??

Distance education was founded in 1728, but there has been an increasing focus on online learning in recent research and literature (“Infographic history of distance education”). Online learning has become more widespread and popular due to the many benefits it offers. Some benefits of online learning include: greater flexibility, a broader target population, cost efficiency, self-discipline and self-directed learning, and the attainment of college credentials.

Advancing technology has allowed us the opportunity to create a new way to earn an education. Although there are many benefits of online learning, it has its disadvantages as well. A few drawbacks of online learning include: decreased retention, self-discipline (lack of), lack of social interaction and reliance on technology. However, research has shown online learning to be just as effective as traditional learning . According to a meta-analysis by Means, Toyama, Murphy, Bakia and Jones (2009), online learning and traditional learning were found to be statistically equivalent in their effectiveness. The meta-analysis also found that students in online learning environments performed better than those in a traditional setting.

Three well-known MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses) that are currently operating are Coursera, edX, and Udacity.

  •  Coursera is dedicated to providing educational access to all. Through a partnership with universities and organizations, Coursera presents online courses designed to be available universally. Coursera provides an online training course for educators to master MOOC’s. The Learning To Teach Online (LTTO) MOOC was created to help educators enhance and advance their skills for teaching online and/or blended courses. The duration of the online course is 6 weeks, averaging  between 3-6 hours of work per week. There are 8 different modules required to be completed in order to pass the course. For any educators that may be interested, a form to apply for the course can be accessed here.
  • EdX was founded in 2012 by Harvard University and MIT, with the goal of providing a free education to all. EdX has more than 90 partnerships with universities and institutions around the world. EdX is currently the only MOOC operating as a non-profit organization.
  • Udacity, founded by Stanford University, strives to create an affordable and effective higher education program available globally. Udacity is dedicated to “teaching the skills that industry employers need today, delivering credentials endorsed by employers, and educating at a fraction of the cost of traditional schools.”

In The Limits Of Open, Carl Straumsheim discusses some of the shortcomings of MOOC’s. According to Carl, without paying for courses, students are only able to view graded assignments. Only those who pay for the courses can have full access to the graded assignments. Although it is free to explore materials such as, videos, lectures, discussion, and practice quizzes, learners must pay in order to receive an actual certificate of completion and to receive academic credit.

According to the article, How To Break Into Online Teaching, there are certain preliminary actions to be considered before beginning to teach online.

  • Identify your skill level of:
    • Time management and organization
    • Online communication
    • Teaching in an online environment
    • Technology
  • Know what kind of teaching job to search for
  • Activate and use your social networks
    • Academic groups
    • Alumni
    • Professional associations
  • Choose which courses you have the ability to teach
  • Examine alternative options

**The Center for Research on Learning and Teaching and Best Practices for Teaching Online websites provide helpful resources pertaining to online learning strategies for professors of online courses. In addition, Anastasia Salter has written several helpful articles to aid professors on their online teaching journey. These can be accessed from one of her posts, Wrapping Up A Large Online Course.**


Please join us for our upcoming Tuesday, March 22nd session on “Teaching Online.” Our esteemed presenters for the March 22nd session include:

Lily Shafer– Instructional Designer
Silvia Mejia– Department of World Languages and Cultures
Daniel Nester– Associate Professor of English

Provisions’ sessions are held from 12:00-1:15 in Standish A&B. All are welcome and no reservations are required. Free lunch and refreshments will be available! Hope to see you all there!! 🙂

November Provisions Session – Teaching the Visual

To listen to the podcast from this session, click here.

27 faculty members were in attendance for our 3rd and final Provisions session of 2014. The three presenters, who shared their experiences of ‘Teaching the Visual’, were Liz Richards, Visiting Instructor of Communications, Susan Meyer, Assistant Professor of Art Foundation, and Dr. Joanne Powers, an Associate Professor of Mathematics.

Proceedings began a little differently to usual, with Liz Richards and Susan Meyer collaborating to co-present their story about another collaboration that took place back in the spring semester. Richards, who teaches Multimedia Storytelling, a communications class, and Meyer, who teaches 3-D concepts, an art class, decided to merge their group of students together in the hope of creating a unique project centered on a type of installation art dubbed “inflatables”. Due to the common divide of city and country students, an urban vs. rural theme was established. For the art class, the task was to physically construct the inflatable installations using plastic sheeting material and a fan, while the communications students provided both visual and audio media that was projected onto them. In addition, the communications class combined their talents to document the collaboration, report on it, and form marketing and public relations departments.

Another notable difference between the two classes was that the 3-D concepts students were in their 1st year, while the Multimedia Storytelling were comprised of juniors and seniors. Richards and Meyer explained that, in spite of the gap, the two sets of students learned a lot from each other. Although they were only able to align their schedules to meet three times in person, the use of technology acted as a vital resource in maintaining and facilitating that contact.

Richards and Meyer added that, for the students who were used to last-minute cramming and starting and finishing work the night before due date, a project of this nature required a time of acclimation. By the end of the experience, Richards and Meyer learned that their collaboration acted as a great platform for their students to learn from each other, gain confidence, and that the project provided a visual example of their accomplishments.To see the collaborating duo’s PowerPoint, click on the link – Inflatables-4.

Dr. Joanne Powers was next up to present; she demonstrated how mathematical visualizations impact her teaching and, thus, the learning of her students. In Dr. Powers’ class, games can be used to help understand complex concepts. The chaos game allows students to see how a seemingly random process can result in familiar patterns; the Sierpinski triangle being one of them.  The students’ learning is further enhanced through the medium of an interactive geometry software program called “The Geometer’s Sketchpad”where students are able to visually explore a multitude of different mathematical areas. Dr. Powers showed the audience, with the Geometer’s Sketchpad, examples of how shapes can be constructed and, in turn, manipulated to provide visual representations of the changes that can take place in the figures. The students are able to see for themselves the answer to “what would happen if….?”  Dr. Powers stated that her students’ understanding of mathematical equations was made easier thanks to the visual model. Due to the visual nature of the world these days, a visual approach could surely enhance learning in any academic discipline.

As always, at the end of the presentations, the floor was opened up for discussions. These were a few of the points that arose:

  • There is a need for integration between courses in liberal education.
  • Having interdisciplinary students in the same classroom helps to provide welcomed diversity and different insights to a subject.
  • Creativity is not merely confined to traditionally creative classes such as music and art.
  • Students should be encouraged to take risks; the process of potentially making a mistake can lead to a greater eventual understanding.
  • It could be beneficial to spread out liberal arts courses so that students can take them when they are older and have developed their sense of critical thinking.

To listen to the podcast from this session, click here.

YouTube Education

In What Teachers Can Learn From Vsauce’s YouTube Show, Jessica Lahey interviews Michael Stevens, one of many internet educators who are effortlessly engaging children across the nation. His YouTube education channel, named Vsauce, has managed to attract 8 million subscribers and amass around 700 million views. The channel is home to a mixture of scientific and philosophical explorations in which he imparts a wealth of entertaining knowledge to his audience.

It is not inconceivable to imagine that many procrastinating students around the world have been victims of YouTube’s addictive and distracting nature. Channels such as Vsauce are able to take advantage of our love of technology, and children’s predilection for video-based entertainment.

In the article, Stevens articulates a number of factors that he believes help to engage his young followers.

First, Stevens highlights the importance of knowing your subject inside out. It is one thing to know and to understand the concept, but being able to clearly and concisely explain it in a way that leaves no confusion or ambiguity is paramount.

Stevens, too, stresses the importance of tailoring vocabulary to the learners needs. He recommends that teachers assume their students are intelligent, but unfamiliar to the subject specific jargon.

Lastly, Stevens urges other educators to point students in the direction of further resources so that they can continue their learning outside of the classroom and begin to self-educate.

Lahey concludes that Stevens’ approach is “to teach so people don’t even realize they are learning”, and that YouTube, which has proven to capture students’ imagination, is an ideal forum for this method of teaching.

For a link to Vsauce’s channel, click here