Crap, Crap, and More Crap

In Rheingold’s Net Smart, he discusses his guidance of his daughter in discovering what information is true or not. He discusses the importance of looking at the author of texts as well as what people are saying about the author and their background. Finding that the author of historical text was a white supremacist was incredibly important in the reliability of the information.

Taking this to the classroom I want students to begin to understand what is reliable and accurate texts, instead of reading all news as fact-checked because it is on a good looking website. Further I want students to know how to look up the author.

As an example I did this with Rheingold, and I found that he is 69 years old man, who is a visiting professor at Stanford and a lecturer at U.C. Berkley in their communications department. His studies include media as well as pedagogical styles and the understanding of learning. What I gained from reading about him is important to understanding the text. Does his age limit how much he is able to contribute to the conversation of digital literacies? I don’t know, but it is something that I am thinking about while reading the chapters he has written. Has learning changed and is he adapting to new learning styles? These are all questions that I am thinking about while reading his text.

Being an informed reader is helpful in understand what is CRAP and what is not. We need to instill the extra steps of identifying the author and their position so that students can fully understand the material and become informed readers.

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5 thoughts on “Crap, Crap, and More Crap

  1. I am on the same page as you! I said something similar to this in my blog. Knowing what perspective and background the media you are reading and viewing is very important! It can only be showing you one side, or it could be showing you multiple. You won’t know unless you check. Do you ever think to yourself “how gullible am I?” because I know I do. Sometimes I am too lazy to see if something is true or not so I just accept it as a possibility but not a truth. What do you think about the importance of teaching students about how far they should go into fact checking or in what situations they should be encouraged to look behind the media?

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    1. I think that fact checking is incredibly important, even with class texts and government sponsored information (even before Trump). Everyone is trying to tell a message, everyone has an agenda. With history textbooks we need to talk about how much of it is focussed on the rich white man to spread the idea of American exceptionalism, while negating a lot of black history and only investigating a small portion of this history. What is this history authors purpose of this? Who sponsor the publishing of this? Is it because states like Texas order mass quantities and determine what is included in the nations history text books? These are all questions that we must have students explore in order for them to get the full grasp of the issue and fill in the pieces that they are missing.

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  2. These are great points, Scotty. We should be more aware of the authors we are reading and what they have previously written or done in their careers. However, there are other indicating factors to whether something we’re reading is quality or not. Do you think that the date of something written or the website that an article is published on has value for ‘crap detection’ or do you think reading up on the author is enough to get a good gauge? Does reading something by a ‘crap’ author also sometimes informative in its own right (i.e. reading from devil’s advocate or someone who is known to be biased)? Perhaps identifying crap is more important that trying to avoid it all together in some ways?

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    1. These are great questions. I think that teaching the students to make these decisions and developing the qualitative skills necessary to determine the importance. Such as the date of the publication, or the sponsoring organization all of these factors matter. This also tells a great deal to the reader by knowing this difference and they are able to create a more well rounded response to the information at hand. Crap authors are not bad, but understanding why they are crap is where the student can gain the most insight. We are not avoiding crap, we are understanding and applying the crap into creating a full and dynamic response.

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