I think by nature I tend to be warier of what I am presented with online. I tend to directly go to the source, authenticate and cross-reference with another credible source. When I have confirmed the information, I would be comfortable sharing it with others. This made me question how I developed this practice and I think it came from my experience in learning Theory of Knowledge in high school. I remember that in theory of knowledge we were presented with the question “How do we know?” One of the projects I remembered completing was comparing how a particular moment in history was recorded differently depending on the source’s affiliation.
When thinking about fake news, I recalled the Momo challenge. The character Momo had spread like wildfire in a short period throughout my whole school. It had trickled down from the upper-year group to the lower year group. Across all of the year groups, there was bound to be someone who truly believed in Momo and become overwhelmed by fear. I remember my primary ones having discussions about it among themselves. A few of them came to me sharing their fears, concerns, worries and even excitement. An assembly was held within the same week for all of the students. The social workers provided reassurance to the students that Momo was not real. It required the combined effort of teachers, parents and students to calm down the spread and fear of Momo.
After the Momo incident, I feel that we were all trying to immediately sweep Momo under the rug and be done with it. I remember feeling like I was walking on eggshells. I was worried about the trauma that it had caused and was desperately trying to provide comfort to them. Looking back now, I feel that it could have been used as an educative experience for the kids to learn about misinformation and reflect on what they could have done. I remember reading more about Momo and coming to learn that the character itself was actually an art piece. It has made me think about what would happen if we had more joint media engagement with the kids. If we had taken part in discussions about what they do online, we could have helped them better navigate misinformation. However, the trauma that the younger students experienced was real. The Momo incident makes me think about how to handle misinformation that has caused trauma to children. While we can provide strategies to children on how they can check if something is true online, how can we support them emotionally? What can we do? This is something that I would like to look into. If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment!
Based on the materials, I began to realise how far and how deep you could explore fake news. The materials on Internet Matters provided a general introduction to fake news and the different examples. I think it is important that students realise that they are held responsible and accountable for what they share. They need to be aware of their role as broadcasters and how their act of sharing can have serious consequences. They have to understand how they too can play a role in the spreading of fake news. The repost or forward function has made it easy for us to react immediately to what we see. The teacher resources provided on Media Smarts titled “Authentication and citizenship” has made me realise that it is not only about checking sources but getting outside your bubble. We should be teaching students to be proactive in being critical and reflective of what they read or see online. Instead of waiting for them to react, we should be preparing students and equipping them with the skills and strategies on how they should approach and handle fake news.
I really liked the lesson plan Break the Fake from Media Smarts. By prompting students to discuss whether the video clip is real or fake, students are guided on what kind of questions they may pose and how to be critical of what they are presented with. I liked how students were able to create their own poster expressing why they thought it was important to think twice. I think that I would actually ask students to create their own house hippo poster to show them just how easy it is for someone to create content that is fake. From the ISTE Standards for Students, I would focus on the digital citizen strand particularly in 2b.
After discussion on how to check for disinformation or misinformation, I would then have them create digital media to teach others the strategies they can take to ensure what they are reading is real. I would incorporate the Creative Communicator strand into the lesson so that they would be presented with the opportunity to create and contribute positively online.
Afterwards, I would have them share what they have created through an online platform. I feel that this would let students see themselves as members of the online community who can make positive contributions and show them that they can take action as well.
My goal for the coming school year is to provide more opportunities for students to question, discuss and check the information they have found online. I definitely would like to implement the House Hippo lesson plan with my students and start to scaffold how they can critically examine information online before sharing.