Teaching news literacy in the Windy City: How good a digital citizen are you?
CHICAGO -- How do you teach people how to teach others to understand media?
That's the provocative and puzzling question at the heart of the conference I'm attending today, the News Literacy and Digital Citizenship Initiative 2010 conference at Loyola University in Chicago.
The news literacy movement is an interesting idea in education; taking the notion that our growing media ecology requires giving students -- and therefore, their teachers -- specialized training in understanding how information media works.
At this conference, educators have gathered to develop strategies and lesson plans for middle schools and high schools exploring issues such as: the boundaries between entertainment and news, evaluating web sites and news sources, inventing news products for peers, exploring search engines and social media and more.
It's the kind of topic everyone thinks they know, until they take a closer look.
This issue seems to have two parts: Understanding how information media, especially news outlets, affect society and training folks to be good "digital citizens" -- handling social media, blogs, websites and other online tools in responsible, constructive ways. Here's a website with some information for teachers on such issues.
I'll be speaking later today on how our increasingly complex news and information ecology works. I'm also hoping to learn a bit about how others see these issues, including you.
The McCormick Foundation, a big funder of these programs, has even pulled together a quiz to test where anyone falls on the knowledge scale. Can you answer these questions?
1. Free expression is the foundation of democracy. Are you an active and effective citizen able to make enlightened decisions? Do you know what ideas and concepts to accept or reject?
2. Can you determine the differences between fact from opinion?
3. As a reader/viewer, do you understand a source’s agendas and motivations in order to make full use of that information?
4. As a reader/viewer, do you understand it’s your responsibility to demand credible and reliable sources of information?
5. In order to be effective, news and information must be verified. Do you know how to evaluate those qualities?
6. Today’s society must empower public forums to give voice to citizens. How can citizens actively participate in the news process? What is your role?