Beyond Identifying Fake News: Helping Students Explore Media in A Deeper Way

In my last blog, Verify, Verify, Verify: An Essential Media Literacy Skill, I provided three tips to help students verify the information they are creating, consuming, and sharing.

Today, I would like to take a closer look at working with learners on media literacy in a way that goes beyond helping them identify fake news. To be truly media literate, we need to go beyond asking, “Is this true or false?” Information is much more complex than fact or fiction. It is important that we work with our students to help them truly understand their world, develop a system to comprehend the information around them, and engage with society.

Exploring Media as Creators

Not long ago, the definition of media literacy expanded to include media creation. No longer are students primarily passive consumers of media—they are now active content creators via online sharing, posting, and commenting. Every time our students Snap a picture to a friend or comment on Instagram, they are contributing to the media landscape.

Include tools in your classrooms that help empower students to create their own media. By embracing their engagement in media creation, we can educate them on how to properly take part in the new world as media literate participants.

Consider teaching students how to create videos, integrate coding skills, and explore creating and using apps. As we empower students to become effective creators, we instill critical thinking skills to support them as they navigate the incredible information flow they encounter daily. As they learn to create, they will also learn to question what others have created, what they are consuming, and what they choose to share.

Teach Students How to Trust Information

Yes, it’s true! We should teach students to trust information, but always to inquire, confirm, and verify. The current conversation about fake news puts trusting news sources front and center. Work with your students to get to the core of trust and effective ways to verify that information.

For example, I often hear my students tell me that they receive their news from their phone or from social media platforms. We may trust these platforms, but it’s not accurate to trust all the news content we see. I work with them to understand where the information is coming from. What is the original source? Who created it? Were they paid to write it? Trusting is about asking more questions.

The discussion of fake news has allowed media literacy conversations to go further than we have seen before. But it also limits the understanding of a very vast media ecosystem we should explore with students.

By supporting students in the creation of their own media and teaching them the ways to trust information, you equip them with the core principles of media literacy, including critical thinking and the importance of asking questions. Students will learn that they can be effective creators and consumers of media. They will also see themselves as participants in the world in which they live.

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