Downloads Thread, Report From Think Tank Demos: Do Your Pupils Critically Evaluate Online Information? in Links, Downloads and Scripts; Link: Truth, lies and the internet a report into young people’s digital fluency
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It does make an intersting read. Indeed, it follows on from another study that I posted up earlier: Kids not as 'net-savvy' as the media would like to make out.
The crux of the Demos report is that, as the other report points out, children have trouble acertaining what is the truth and what is false. Back in the day when you could go to either a school or public library and get a book on a subject to give you the answer you required, the net is riddled with innacuarcies and downright lies dependant on the viewpoint the site author holds, however many children do not know how to deal with these. The reports author points out that teacher do want companies such as Google, Yahoo! etc. to make materials available to assist in the classroom teaching of how to filter out the correct facts from the abundent innacuarcies. This would be a good starting point, and perhaps schools will see more emphesis placed upon the teaching of the correct 'use' of internet search tools in the future. This piece in particular caught my attention on page 36:
Finally, a disturbing minority of teachers reported a lack of basic ICT infrastructure, or access to computers/laptops on a regular basis, with appropriate software and reliable internet access. Other organsiations, noteably the E-learning Foundation have pointed out the 'Digital Divide' - a lack of access to computers and teh internet - as a pernacious and important kind of inequality. Obviously, no amount of digital fluency teaching can help students leverage teh internet as a learnign aid if they cannot access it.
Surely this is a school management issue and should be flagged by the report as such? It makes it appear that someone apart from schools is to blame here, or perhaps this is just the way I am reading it.
Back in the day when you could go to either a school or public library and get a book on a subject to give you the answer you required, the net is riddled with innacuarcies and downright lies dependant on the viewpoint the site author holds, however many children do not know how to deal with these.
The only difference between Library + Internet is that it's cheaper to publish your lies / bias on the Internet and you have a potentially wider audience if it's a popular subject. The barrier to entry is merely lower. Couple that with Google flagging up popular / closely linked lies nearer the top of the search.
In University libraries there are whole stacks of books and journal articles that are unfounded opinion bereft of proper research, proven to be false by later research or lacking coherent arguments. Students were expected to work this out for themselves and were penalised if they couldn't critically evaluate.
Or, as my history professor used to rant "just because you've managed to get published doesn't mean you aren't a miserable lying person born out of wedlock".
We have a Sixth Form course here called Critical Thinking which is pretty free-form and is designed to make students think. The kids seem to enjoy it. Maybe more schools should have something similar lower down the school.
Last edited by pete; 4th October 2011 at 05:52 PM.