Of Note: Beyond Fake News
Teaching and Learning in a Post-Truth World by Renee Hobbs
Educational Leadership, November 1, 2017
In this short article for ASDC, Renee Hobbs, the director of the Media Education Lab at the Harrington School of Communication and Media at the University of Rhode Island, offers some new strategic directions for teachers working with students on media literacy. Hobbs connects the difficulty – and importance – of developing media literacy skills to the rise of social media, the intensity of the current political moment, and broader shifts in the modern media landscape. Calling on teachers to move past an overly simplistic focus on “fake news,” Hobbs encourages teachers to use “a more precise set of definitions and concepts, including terms like propaganda, disinformation, clickbait, hoaxes and satire, pseudoscience, sponsored content, and partisanship” in order to help students better understand the complexities of the contemporary knowledge landscape. She then explores the new resonance of the concept of propaganda in the age of social media, drawing on research that shows that “most adults can’t accurately judge the truth or falsity of an online news story because they assume that content that aligns with their existing beliefs is automatically true,” as well as the emerging understanding of the roles of emotion, partisanship, and confirmation bias in our knowledge-building. Hobbs’s article is a must-read for teachers and administrators looking to update their approach to media literacy.