Digital Literacy

Mike Caulfield’s talk, Teaching Digital Literacy in a Post-Truth World,  was a seminar to inform students and teachers how misinformation is very pertinent on the web, and how to distinguish between fact and fiction and everything in between. In other words, how do we know what we see is true, and if it isn’t, how do we go about finding the truth?

Throughout the entire presentation I couldn’t help but to think of today’s political environment and how the use of “alternative facts” has become a cornerstone of communication with the public. I was also aware of the fact that most, if not all, of the news I consume is from social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook. I have my own assumptions about some sources’ biases, but this talk showed me how break down that bias and ultimately decipher what is true and what isn’t, by using a new method called lateral reading. Caulfield essentially debunked the CRAAP model that I, and many of my peers, use and was taught here at UMW. Using radical examples like white supremacist’s websites illustrated how the authority pillar of CRAAP can easily be unreliable by whoever is writing an article. Of course the source is always going to say that they are trustworthy. Also, the currency and relevance of a source cannot definitively tell if it is reliable or not. Caulfield also brought up how the CRAAP model encourages people to stay within whatever source they are evaluating. Most likely, one needs to step outside the source itself and research it from what other sources say so a more unbiased view can be developed (this is lateral reading). I will be using Caulfield’s newer model because I believe it is more effective and efficient at determining if sources are reliable.

The social media aspect of this talk resonated with me because of how much I use it every day. Whenever I share a post on Facebook or retweet something on Twitter, I never look into if the source is reliable or if what I am sharing is even factually correct. One of the themes Caulfield touched on was how Facebook has become a platform for people to share posts and videos that construe a certain view that the poster wants their followers and friends to perceive about them. It is not about true or false, which is a major way that misinformation can spread very quickly. People share things that promote their own agenda, and most of the population is not looking into the claims they are perpetrating.

I feel like deciphering the news is a critical asset that more people need to have, especially in today’s United States. There always has been and always will be bias, but current times have seen blatant lies from different public figures and the general public just accepts them because of the authority of the figures behind them. This talk has given me tools to quickly determine what is true and if sources are reliable, and how to tell if something might not be 100% accurate. I can use these tools in every day life and in academia.

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