Education in an age of misinformation

I have for a number of years now been a proponent of the widest possible use of information technology in schools.

My most popular post is https://malbell.com/2010/08/27/10-reasons-we-should-allow-mobile-phones-into-schools/ . I regularly get a number of hits on this post and it was my most commented upon. It is number 1 on a Google search for the subject (exact words).

I am though increasingly worried about the fact that pupils and students seem to lack any education into how to actually search and use the vast resources that are available to them on the net.

It seems to me that we live in an age where we are increasingly given what people like to call “False News” but which really should just lies under the general label of “misinformation”.

Too many students will research as far as the first 5 entries on Google and then take great chunks of the material (by highlighting and pasting) and then (if you are lucky) draw it all to a conclusion or more than likely take a conclusive statement from one of the entries and then use this.

The wider problem is that students are not interrogating the information, checking it, deciding whether it is real or not. They seem to rely a lot on Wikipedia. Now I am a supporter of Wikipedia and believe that it is a good thing that there is a source of “information” that anyone can contribute to and which can be edited by others.

The problem is though that there is a lot of unverified information that is presented as fact and that is then used to substantiate arguments in essays.

One of my internet heroes has always ben Howard Rheingold and he came up with an excellent term for this subject. He said that pupils and students needed to have an education that allowed them to be “crap detectors”.

Now more than ever we need to be educating our children in how to use the web. How to detect lies, misinformation and propaganda disguised as “fact”.  There is nothing to be gained if they all have their mobile phones to use and then look up Google and use some piece of fiction and call it fact!

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