Can You Tell Fake News From Real? : NPR

"Many assume that because young people are fluent in social media they are equally savvy about what they find there," the researchers wrote. "Our work shows the opposite."

Stanford researchers assessed students from middle school to college and found they struggled to distinguish ads from articles, neutral sources from biased ones and fake accounts from real ones.

This is truly dismaying news given the post-truth world we are apparently living in now. NPR News presents a concise and informative report on Stanford’s recently published “Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning” and paints a grim picture of so-called digital natives’ ability to critically assess news and fake news.

The participants in this study were middle and high school students who were asked to evaluate websites, tweets, and images in order to determine whether they were legitimate (from the cited source), factual (presented information that was true or which stood up to basic scrutiny) or unbiased. The Stanford researched used items from across the politial spectrum and discovered that students could not identify advertisements on webpages, could not determine if sources of sources were real or fake, or even if images were what they purported to be.

We in the IT and Library world clearly have our work cut out for ourselves and need to have some serious curricular discussions within our schools. I for one would be very curious to see how our own students would fare in a similar study. Anyone care to join me?

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Read on Can You Tell Fake News From Real? Study Finds Students Have ‘Dismaying’ Inability : The Two-Way : NPR

My first Android app

Students try out my new Android app...

I have been toying with App Inventor off and on since it was first opened on the Google website and was very excited to hear that the project was being open-sourced and moved to MIT’s Center for Mobile Learning. It is still in limited, beta release there and I am now able access this tool with my newly created Google Apps account.

The new MIT App Inventor site seems to work like the previous Google site. You layout your app, work in the Java-based blocks editor, then package your app for installation.

I started with the Paint Pot tutorial and completed it in half an hour or so, adding a pic of myself as a small customization. Once packaged, I installed it on my phone with no problem, then turned to the table, which was a bit trickier. The app was there, but the installation kept failing. After some research on various help fora I found several recommendations for Astro File Manager, which solved the problem instantly.

With my app now up and running, it was time to show my creation to students. I showed my 5th graders what I had made and, after the initial oo-and-ah, proceeded to pass the tablet around the classroom. Paint Pot is very simple (select a color, then doodle on a picture, erase to start over) yet it held their attention for quite some time. This was not a surprise.

What was very interesting was this instant, constructive critique that they each proceeded to offer me. They suggested functional improvements (“The line is too thin.”), stylistic changes (“The colors are boring.”) and even new features (“There should be an UNDO button…and a picture picker.”)

It would have been easy to take this criticism as discouraging, but what I saw in my students was this: They have realistic expectations of toys and tools based of their own experiences. They didn’t look at this app as an experiment or trial, they examined it thoroughly and weighed it against their own experiences and expectations. They gave me their honest opinions and inspired me to update this app and begin to work on my next project soon.

The 2011 K-12 Horizon Report: Too optimistic? | Dangerously Irrelevant | Big Think

Ouch! Scott McLeod pulls no punches in this response to the 2011 K-12 Horizon Report. He echoes Gary Stager’s assertion that most technology growth is replicative in nature: SmartBoards replicating chalkboards, clickers/responders replicating multiple-choice quizzes, teacher-selected YouTube clips replicating filmstrips and VHS tapes. Even Moodle takes a hit as he claims that it is simply another environment created and controlled by teachers. (True, too.)

He laments the missed opportunities of new and emerging technologies: “We still have too many teachers who have no clue what Google Docs or Twitter are, for example. We still have too many administrators who are blocking mobile learning devices and are fearful of online learning spaces.” 

This parallels so many conversations I have been having recently with colleagues and articles I have been reading online about the disparate expectations that Millennials, Gen-Xers, and Boomers have regarding technology, education and daily life…perhaps this will be fodder for a future post here on MSIT Next.

The 2011 K-12 Horizon Report: Too optimistic? | Dangerously Irrelevant | Big Think

Adjusting the Prescription | The University of Virginia Magazine

One of the great things about our job is that we are often consulted about new and interesting ideas from The Great Beyond. This week the three of us were sent a link to an article in the online University of Virginia Magazine and asked to share our responses.

While it would be tempting at first blush to read this article as an endorsement of the “shiny, new things” approach to innovation, it actually presents a fascinating look at curricular re-imagining for this university medical school program. The photos seem to showcase the technology/tools (large screens, round tables, student laptops, high-tech mannequins) but the real star of the show is the dramatic changes in teaching and learning styles (professors as guides and co-learners, students as researchers and constructors of knowledge).

Adjusting the Prescription | The University of Virginia Magazine