Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The CRAP Kids Learn in School

Cross-posted on iKeepSafe's Blog

Digital Media Literacy education is primarily a top-down endeavor: adults design curriculum based upon what they think kids should know about the digital world. It’s sort of like Martians deciding what Earthlings need to know about life on this planet. Sure we do our best, but at the end of the day many of us are still trying to sort out the difference between a text, a tweet, and a timeline. Additionally, while we generally cover the risk-prevention/online safety stuff well; we're not so good at imparting the skills that actually empower kids to use their digital tools masterfully.

So why not ask kids directly what it is they think they need to know?  Believe it or not, they will generally give you some very smart answers.  

For example, at the completion of a three-year pilot program in Digital Citizenship, Information Literacy, and Media Literacy at Journey School, what we call Cyber Civics, I asked the kids to tell me which lessons they found most valuable.

The overwhelming answer?  CRAP Detection. Yes I admit, that’s an acronym hard to forget. But it’s also an incredibly useful tool for finding the trees in a forest of online information. In short, CRAP Detection comes from the book, NetSmart: How to Thrive Online (2012) by Stanford University Professor, Howard Rheingold.  It suggests that we evaluate online information based on the following criteria:

Currency -
          -How recent is this information?
          -How recently has the website been updated?

          -What kind of information is included in the resource?
          -Does the creator provide references or sources for data? Or quotations?

          -Who is the creator or author? What are their credentials?
          -Who is the publisher or sponsor? Are they reputable? 
Purpose/Point of View -
          - Is this fact or opinion? Is it biased?
          - Is the creator/author trying to sell you something?

The second two things the kids liked learning about most were Copyright and Plagiarism. Now this was surprising to me, because those aren’t topics you’d think an 8th grader would remember fondly, yet as one student wrote,

“I liked learning about copyright rules so I don’t get arrested or kicked out of high school.”

Here are the other lessons the students liked most:  

“The most valuable thing I learned was to check to see if websites are trustworthy.”

“That every time you post something online it sticks onto your digital footprint like permanent glue.”

“That technology shouldn’t take over our lives.”

“That passwords should be around 8 characters w/symbols and numbers.”

“That people in magazines are photo-shopped and no one is perfect.”

And finally,

“Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your parents to see.”

Amen to that.

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