March 03, 2017

News in a Post-Truth Era

Credible or click-bait? News literacy? Checking facts? "Fake News"? which is, at best, just false or at worst a lie.

How can you tell what's credible and what isn't? This needs to be taught, effectively and without bias. But how? The audience is ... middle- and high-schoolers. College students. Even adults!

I'm gathering the best articles and lesson plans and adding them to a guide I created:
http://guides.lib.unc.edu/mejo153/checkingFacts

It includes resources for evaluating news sources (I love you, AllSides.com!), lesson plans, and fact-checking websites. I'm tweaking a great checklist on evaluating news sites based on Evaluating news sites: Credible or Clickbait? by Candice Benjes-Small. Sooner or later, I'm going to add my favorite articles on the topic.

For now, I'll list some of them here:

I've been pondering this quite a bit lately and am speaking on the topic of teaching news literacy to a few different audiences. First to the North Carolina Scholastic Media Association advisors, then to a group of SILS and MEJO students at UNC on March 31, and to the Society or Professional Journalists Region 2 conference April 8 at Elon University.

Do you have a favorite resource for teaching how to evaluate news credibility? Do share!

January 17, 2017

Flipping the Information Literacy Classroom

I'm switched up my teaching and am using a flipped classroom model to teach four sections of Advertising and Public Relations Research at UNC's School of Media & Journalism.

Their class task is to find secondary research on their client or brand in order to create a SWOT analysis. Working in small teams, students must identify their client's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats using any resources available to articulate these elements.

After I found the amazing graphics information literacy textbook Information Now: A Graphic Guide to Student Research by Matt Upson, C. Michael Hall, and Kevin Cannon (which I wrote about last year), I decided to try flipping this session. I ask the faculty to have their students read several pages from the chapter "Journals & Databases" before class.

I paired that reading with I readings of  four pre-selected articles on a "Brand in the News." They read a scholarly article, a trade article, a popular magazine article, and a SWOT analysis - which I pre-selected from my trio of databases. Check out the list of articles on my library portal for the class (aka LibGuide).
http://guides.lib.unc.edu/mejo279/home


When they get to class, we talk about each of these journal types based on their reading of the Information Now chapter and of the four articles. This takes about 15 minutes. Since they've already looked at EBSCO for the four articles, my demo on how to search EBSCO is relatively quick, so I quickly break them into their teams to research their client in the three databases. They get about 30 minutes to do their own searching, and then we talk about what they found and any search problems that cropped up along the way.

This is in contrast to the old way, where I went into class and talked about the difference between scholarly, trade, and popular magazine articles. I'd bring in examples of each periodical and ask the students to articulate items such as the audience, writing style, use of graphics, and authors for each source type. These sessions were productive and I felt that students really understood the difference in article types. I'd then spend about 10 minutes showing them how to search Academic Search Premier, Business Source Premier, and Communication & Mass Media Complete to find these articles.

While students learned the difference in article types, they didn't really get a good sense of how to search -- at least, not in my anecdotal assessment.

The new method teaches these sophomores & juniors the difference in article types just as effectively as before, with samples from their own discipline -- and for the most part, they learn this before I get into the classroom. That frees me to have them focus on their searching for scholarly, trade, and popular publications in their teams.

The faculty like this approach and have been very willing to give the students the assignment prior to class. I'm heading into my second semester teaching this way and look forward to the results.

January 03, 2017

Great CogSci podcast called @hiddenbrain

I'm so glad to report that there is a good cognitive science podcast in the U.S.: Hidden Brain, hosted by NPR reporter Shankar Vedantam and available on NPR and wherever podcasts can be found.

The Dec. 13, 2016 episode, We're More Alike Than Different, Thanks To Peer Pressure's Relentless Influence features an interview with Penn marketing professor Jonah Berger and combines two of my interests: cognitive science and advertising / marketing.
Berger says we tend to be pretty good at recognizing how social influence and peer pressure affect other people's choices. But we're not so good at recognizing those forces in our own decision-making.
It's a great episode, and if you like cognitive science, I highly recommend Hidden Brain.

This makes a great compliment to Australia's outstanding cognitive science podcast, All in the Mind, which I've written about before.