Last month, I was honored be part of the Contra Costa Community College District’s Civic Engagement Speaker Series, with the provocative title “Fake news: A threat to our society?” The event was moderated by Diablo Valley College Journalism Department Chair Mary Mazzoco. Joining me on the panel were East Bay Times education reporter Sam Richards, UC Berkeley e-learning and information studies librarian Cody Hennesy, California State Senator Bill Dodd, and student trustee Kwame Baah-Arhin.
My co-panelists had some really interesting insights into fake news. Several people mentioned the history of fake news from the beginnings of the printing press to Bat Boy to satirical news sites. But the Internet, with its mass accessibility as a platform for publishing and consuming information, has enabled the spread of dubiously sourced information. Panelists agreed that more critical digital literacy was needed.
In particular, I appreciated Cody’s great presentation, in which he talked about the UC Berkeley library guide on evaluating resources, which encourages people to consider the source, the platform, themselves, and the world. I was also interested to learn about Senator Dodd’s bill, which he has introduced in the California State Legislature, to create a model curriculum around media literacy for K-12 students.
I spoke about how a recent Stanford study termed students’ digital literacy skills “bleak”, and how Wiki Ed’s Classroom Program is working to change that. Our research shows that students who edit Wikipedia articles as part of our class gain those critical media literacy skills that are otherwise lacking.
You can watch the video of the talk here. My thanks to the gracious hosts at the Contra Costa Community College District and Diablo Valley College.