Information literacy has long been hard to teach, especially with the landscape of online platforms changing so fast these days. And during this COVID-19 pandemic, it can seem harder than ever to sort out reliable information from falsehood, rumor and conspiracy.
So on this week’s EdSurge Podcast, we’re talking to two experts working to help educators and others sharpen their info literacy and critical-thinking skills.
- Peter Adams, senior vice president for education at the News Literacy Project. The nonprofit group provides professional development and online materials to help teachers understand and teach news literacy.
- Jonathan Haber, an educational consultant, researcher and author working at the intersection of K-12, higher education and educational technology. His latest book, “Critical Thinking Essentials,” was recently published by MIT Press.
This week’s podcast sponsor is PowerSchool, now with Schoology, a unified platform that brings SIS, LMS and assessment together for blended, distance and personalized learning. It keeps everyone from administrators and teachers to students and parents connected from homeroom to home.
Adams notes that the pandemic has highlighted that misinformation can have consequences to health, such as when false cures and false preventions circulate online and lead people to get sick. He says everyone should make sure to spend a few seconds checking any claim before sharing it with friends or on social media. (Check out our previous podcast with Adams for a deeper dive into how teachers can better teach news literacy.)
Haber, meanwhile, created a free tool called Logic Check, which helps users apply critical-thinking skills to information they find online. He feels that fact-checking websites like FactCheck.org have limited value when it comes to halting the spread of misinformation.
Imagine, he said, someone arguing that since we’ve been locked down for months and COVID-19 deaths are continuing, that must mean that social distancing isn’t working. “If you look at the premises of that argument, they’re both true,” he says. “We have been locked down for several months and COVID deaths have been going up. And so if you just fact checked it, the facts would check out.”
The problem is the logic of the argument—it’s a problem with the inference made using the facts. “One of the reasons fact-checking—powerful and important as it is—hasn’t really made a difference in rational understanding of the news, is that fact checking only tells part of the story,” he adds. “We don’t know how to logic check the news, or most people don’t. And that's really what the mission of Logic Check.
Listen to this week’s episode on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play Music, or wherever you listen to podcasts, or use the player below.