Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Editor's Corner

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Editor's Corner

Article excerpt

Digital Literacy--Is It Real ?

Today's students are dazzlingly fluent digital natives. They text, blog, Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook. They use search engines to access information for school reports; they ask their smartphones for answers to questions that, in a different era, might have required a trip to the library. Our current students are the most digitally literate young people in the history of the world.

Or are they? According to a new study, students might be lacking the most important literacy skill of all: the ability to distinguish fact from fiction. Researchers at Stanford's Graduate School of Education asked middle school, high school, and college students in 12 states to evaluate information presented in online tweets, comments, advertisements, and articles.

After more than a year collecting and evaluating almost 8,000 student responses, the researchers found that many students--over 80% in some cases--couldn't tell the difference between an advertisement and a news story, distinguish between a real and fake news source, identify bias in a tweet, or determine if a website could be trusted.

The authors' conclusion? "Overall, young people's ability to reason about the information on the internet can be summed up in one word: bleak" (Wineburg, McGrew, and Ortega 2016, p. …

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