What’s on your digital plate today?

Think before you post! This is the PHRASE I use when I begin teaching my students appropriate behavior online. Posting online can be useful and harmful together. By demonstrating a specific behavior, people can shape our opinion about them. Everyone, who posts or “scrolls” online creates his/her own digital shadow. As an educator, I do care about my own digital shadow as wells as my students’ shadows too. When your digital traces are put together to create stories about you or profiles of you, these become your digital shadows. These can give others huge insight into your life, and they can also be totally wrong. Either way, once they’re out there, they are almost impossible to control… Me and My Shadow

However, the phrase “Think before you post” can be used in way more situations, than for regular communication online. How many of us, participants of this COETAIL journey, have stopped to think if it is appropriate to post some of our thoughts to the public. I have. Just because I care about my reputation and I feel responsible for sharing my opinion and appropriate information, but surely still learning to get things done well using various forms of media. But are we all thinking the same way? Are all of the online contributors taking responsibility for the content they are posting?

Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

According to Pew Research Center, today around seven-in-ten Americans use social media connecting with each other, engaging with news content, sharing information, or simply entertaining themselves. Moreover, social media is part of people’s daily routine. This means it is really important to think before you post, because of a huge audience who can access the content you have posted. Media shapes our understanding of the surrounding world very often. That’s why it is recommended to everyone, who reads media news online to train your “skeptical eye”. This term was suggested by Media smarts in the “Sorting Fact from Fiction” article. They recommend paying extra attention to the following factors on sorting out fake news/facts:
Non-news content, such as ads and opinion pieces, that looks like news;
– Entirely false news stories, including satire and fake stories that purport to be true;
– Genuine news stories which are significantly compromised by the source’s bias
.
Moreover, research suggests that most people judge a news source based in part on whether it looks like news.

What is Media Literacy?

According to Frank W. Baker, this term can be split apart – media and literacy. Media is a well-known term for all of us which includes the internet, newspaper, magazines, television, etc. Literacy is the ability to read, write, write, and comprehend. Media Literacy in the K-12 Classroom, 2nd Edition

We want students who can read, write, think critically, and contribute to society.
– Frank W. Baker

Curiosity and Truth

Being an educator of 21st-century education, I feel big responsibility of preparing students to be active and “professional/smart” contributors to our online community. No matter if my students are quite young for this – they are also reached by media every day. For example: at home by watching TV, especially, if they are doing it together with their older siblings, who are very often a role model as well. So how can we help our students balance their media diet? Here is a good video that can help us do that – it talks about the media diet that can help students understand how modern media makes a good show and look beyond the news that is fed to them (suitable even for young students).

My biggest take away from this video is a tip on reading more different news feeds in order to be able to recognize misinformation and bias information. This broadens our understanding of the content we are receiving from some resources, also, it is possible to do the fact-checking and avoid irrelevant information. Moreover reading more of different resources, allows us to find out something new and exciting, increasing the level of curiosity.

Fact-checking is one of the most important processes in any research process. I teach my grade 5 students research every year. We agree on at least three different resources for fact-checking. Teaching research is impossible without media literacy elements. Together with my students, we discover various media forms during this process – we read magazines, watch YouTube videos, read blogs, explore websites (professional and other), etc. During these classes, we also compare examples of various media forms, discuss when is it appropriate to use them for certain research topics – when can we use bias informational resources and when do we need scientific facts as well as specialized websites.

For example: “What people think about our government in the 21st-century?” For this type of research bias information is exactly what we need. But how can we know that this kind of bias information is actually written by people and not “Bots” (automated accounts capable of posting content or interacting with other users with no direct human involvement)? Scary, isn’t it? This is just another great example of how we can be uncertain of whom we are communicating with on the other side of the monitor. The rise of “fake news” and the proliferation of doctored narratives that are spread by humans and bots online are challenging publishers and platforms. The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online (Pew Research Center)

In essence, today we all have to be our own librarians, researchers, and fact-checkers. “Authentication 101 – Introduction” (Media Smarts)

My younger students create posts on Seesaw. This is a great platform for the discussion on “How my post should look like?” and “How can I help my peers by leaving a meaningful comment?” or “What can we say about each other from our contributions?”. Also, “How can sharing our learning outcomes help us shape our understanding of how we learn?” and even more – “Who we are as different personas with individual points of view?” or “What happens if some of us begin adding wrong information?”. Therefore, comparing our small Seesaw community with other media and social media platforms can show that similar processes happening all around us and we are going to be part of it in the future. Similar discussions help build a basic understanding of media literacy and the diversity of information around us.

No need to mention that all educators are role models for their students. Our example is really important. Writing this blog is a great example of how digital tools can be successfully and appropriately used for sharing knowledge and good ideas with the community. I could share this with my students.