Richer Reflections for Required Readings 3 – Web Literac(y)(ies)

Readings

To accomplish the Richer Reflection on these readings, I decided I would use the Hypothes.is tool mentioned in the Richer Readings explanation and began using it on Caulfield’s online book Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers. At the time I didn’t realize how lengthy the book would be, but I got plenty of practice using the tool and I also got to read the annotations of a few other people, some of which were interesting/relevant. To me it is amazing that every online piece of text could have this backchannel-style conversation going on and most people would never know unless they were Hypothes.is users. Here is a link to my annotations:

https://hypothes.is/users/pwmeritt

Humorous Rabbit-Trail

When I was watching the videos by Mike Caulfield and Civix, I somehow got the idea that maybe these readings and the associated assignment was all a big test to see if we would put Mr. Caulfield and Civix to the same fact-checking tests that he suggests and in turn discover that they themselves were fraudulent. It furthered my suspicions when Chrome flagged the DigiPo sites as unsafe, although I found out later that they seemed to be OK. So I did some digging and discovered that there isn’t really much reliable information online about Mike Caulfield or Civix that doesn’t come from their own sites. For instance, the page for Michael Caulfield on Wikipedia probably isn’t giving information about the same man, and online he has a very small footprint outside of his hapgood.us website. I did finally find a bit of information about him at the WSU Vancouver online directory that verifies his position as “Director of Blended and Networked Learning” so I guess he’s legitimate. Civix also doesn’t exist on Wikipedia, and again most of the information about them online comes from their own website (which Chrome labels as “not secure”) but their Facebook page has a blue check-mark, so at least they are an actual organization according to Facebook. However, after doing a “civix.ca -site:civix.ca” search on Google, I discovered a lot more information about them that put my fears to rest.

DigiPo & Examples

The DigiPo platform seems like a good one for students to put the fact-checking and web literacy techniques Caulfield describes throughout the online book and videos to use. Not only does it give students practice using the research techniques, but they also have to publish something that will be visible online (wider and more meaningful audience than just the instructor) and hopefully help to dispel misinformation by spreading truth on specific topics (so it could be useful for others).

Critical Questions

I don’t usually just list the questions and answers, but this time I’m going to. Here goes:

  1. How does web literacy differ from digital literacy?
    Web literacy is a large component of digital literacy, but it includes the skills and knowledge surrounding online activities only, instead of everything relating to computers. I think these readings put an emphasis on the reasons for checking the facts and the skills/tools to make that possible.
  2. How might you bring the specific idea of web literacy espoused in Caulfield’s work to your students?
    I might show a more mature group of high school students the couple of videos Mike Caulfield made with Civix, but I probably won’t assign them a DigiPo or readings from his book. Teaching how to track down the source of a Photo might be an interesting lesson in Photography though. My Yearbook class could certainly use more of this kind of training, so maybe a series of lessons that incorporate some of the tools Caulfield shows how to use in the book. Really, the best way to do this would probably be to present it to other school staff and rely on the trickle-down method. Staff could then show students how to use the tools when they are conducting research for whatever projects they have going in their classes.
  3. How does it relate to digital citizenship?
    I think part of being a good digital citizen is not accepting everything we read on the internet at face value, just like we shouldn’t trust everyone we meet face-to-face just because they might sound convincing. We need to be critical readers/listeners and avoid the spreading of falsehood by re-tweeting and re-posting things that aren’t true. Being a good digital citizen is partly about being honest and truthful, but also sniffing out and labeling falsehood when we find it.

The first was a LONG read for me (I kept getting interrupted), but there were a lot of useful tools and excellent strategies for fact verification in there. I feel much better equipped to check the facts when researching online, but I’m also not sure how much I will use this beyond research as a student because of the time it takes to do a thorough job verifying. If I was a professional journalist maybe…

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