Digital Literacy & Critical Thinking
The article by Maha Bali, Fake News: Not Your Main Problem, presents an interpretation of digital literacies that relates to digital citizenship and cross-cultural learning attitudes rather than a focus on technical skills to detect fake news.
Maha writes about teaching digital literacies so students can detect fake news and ‘gaslighting’ and to combat them by developing scepticism. When students examine news or information from the Internet, they need to be taught how to contextualise the information, to ask is it supported by evidence and to see ‘facts’ as dependent on values and worldviews.
What interests me most is that critical thinking is integral to being a digital citizen and this needs time and care to nurture.
The real problem isn’t that some sources produce fake news. The problem is that young people (and grown, otherwise reasonable adults!) are not prepared, morally, socially, and emotionally to interpret this critically.
Developing Critical Thinking
I teach the Research Project to year 11 students and developing scepticism and critical thinking is necessary to successfully analyse sources. Maha has drawn a link between these skills and digital citizenship. She suggests developing critical thinking through:
- presenting different perspectives
- exposure to contradictory information
- exposure to different people, cultures and value systems.
Maha says that learning to look at the world from different perspectives and responding openly and with imagination is crucial to teaching digital literacy. This opinion is supported byThe Out of Eden Learn Blog.
… we believe that offering young people opportunities to engage in thoughtful cross-cultural inquiry and exchange is particularly important today. We collectively face a range of issues that will require a capacity and inclination to engage critically and collaboratively with other people to address them, even at a time of increasingly intolerant and divisive public discourse in many parts of the world.
Out of Eden Learn
In 2016 my class participated for the first time in Out of Eden Learn. It gave students the opportunity to look at the world from a different perspective and to respond openly, with empathy and imagination.
As a teacher, I can promote digital literacies by participating in global projects such as Out of Eden Learn, global collaboration with schools and teachers and by developing social and emotional skills to help my Research Project students detect fake news and combat it by being curious and asking questions.
The solution isn’t going to be by focusing on promoting digital literacies to combat fake news. It’s got to be about nurturing cross-cultural learning attitudes and skills that help make our knee-jerk reactions to news in general more socially just and empathetic.