Digital Literacy in a World of Fake News

Digital literacy is so much more important in our world of fake news and information 24/7. With that also comes the need to teach that literacy within our schools. News and technology have taken over every aspect of our lives, meaning that no matter what subject we are in, or age group we are teaching, it is so important that we are implementing digital literacy into our classrooms. This week, we were tasked at looking into what that means for us as teachers. Myself, being a high school Math and Phys Ed. teacher, it was challenging, but I also found that there are always ways to fit it into the curriculum. These are the ideas I came up with and I hope they can help you as well.

Photo Credit: Christoph Scholz Flickr via Compfight cc

Mathematics was something that was at first really tricky for me when thinking about how digital literacy and spotting fake news could be taught within the curriculum. When I took a deeper look into it though, there are many places that it can be taught, the main one being: Statistics. Companies and journalists are great when it comes to skewing data or hiding important factors to make their product, argument, etc., seem better or worse than it actually is. Mark Liddell has a great video on this subject called “How statistics can be misleading” which outlines the various tricks people use within their statistics to promote their own ideas. Statistics are a huge part of mathematics, and using proofs to determine if certain sets of data are really as true as they are leading us to believe is a great activity for students.

Phys Ed is a bit of an easier look at, as it has a very large health-related aspect to it, which includes dealing with mental health and our emotional responses to things. An activity that could be helpful for teaching digital literacy, which also follows the NCTE framework on “critiquing, analyzing, and evaluating multimedia texts”, would be getting students to look at articles they come across on social media or online. They could then write down how they felt when reading it or their thoughts on the subject before and after. Then when they have a few articles chosen, they can then dig deeper into them, checking for validity, arguments on both sides, etc. This activity not only helps when fighting against fake news but is also connected to the ideas explained in the comic “You’re not going to believe what I’m about to tell you” that says we can have strong emotional responses to the things we read online. In fact, feeling like we are being attacked by the information we read online triggers the same emotional response in our brain as being attacked physically. Students need to be aware that not everything they read should be taken as a fact, and instead of lashing out, or even just taking everything it says as a fact, they should be willing to listen to both sides and dig a little deeper.

The fact is, digital literacy can be taught in every subject, at every grade level. If you are having trouble finding ways to implement it, there are so many resources and activities you can turn to such as this article called “Why do people fall for fake new?”, which explains concepts such as bias, clickbait, fact-checking, and provides you with multiple resources that you and your students can utilize for spotting fake news.

If you have any comments or feedback or would like to share your own ideas and resources when it comes to teaching digital literacy, feel free to leave a comment below and it would be much appreciated! Stay safe everyone!

1 thought on “Digital Literacy in a World of Fake News

  1. Great Post!
    The United Nations has labeled fake news and the anti-vaccine movement as a big threat to society today. I think that all people not just students need to understand that there are other opinions and that if they don’t get there way, that lashing out isn’t going to solve anything. All people need to do more research and not take everything they read as fact as you point out.


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