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Poll: Should More Be Done to Regulate Fake News?

Strengthening information literacy skills is one way to fight the spread of fake news. However, according to a recent Pew Research poll, many Americans also believe that social media sites, search engines, and the government have a responsibility to stop fake news. Facebook, widely criticized for its role in spreading fake news, recently announced efforts to tackle the problem. Critics, though, argue that this approach could lead to censorship.

The “That’s Debatable!” poll, a popular polling feature in SIRS Issues Researcher, has been asking users all month whether fake news should be regulated. So far, users have overwhelmingly voted yes: fake news should indeed be regulated. What do you think? Should social media sites, search engines, and the government regulate fake news? Or is it the responsibility of news consumers to identify fake news on their own? Take our poll, and tell us what you think.

Are your students equipped with the information literacy skills to identify fake news? ProQuest Guided Research products equip students to learn information literacy skills. Free trials are available.

How to Identify Fake News in 10 Steps

Fake news is a problem. Information illiteracy is an even bigger problem. A Stanford University study released last November found that most students could not identify fake news because they lacked basic information literacy skills. The good news? We are finally having a national conversation on the importance of teaching information literacy, which teachers and librarians have been talking about for years.

Unfortunately, a recent ProQuest survey found that only 25% of librarians thought their library adequately supported information literacy instruction. Thankfully, there are information literacy resources available on the web. Damon Brown’s TED-ED video “How to Choose Your News” offers a quick, student-friendly introduction to information and media literacy. ProQuest’s editable guided research worksheet “How to Identify Fake News in 10 Steps” helps students become skeptical news consumers.

Want more resources? See eLibrary’s new comprehensive Research Topic on Fake News.

ProQuest Guided Research products equip students to learn information literacy skills. Free trials are available.

Fake News & the Importance of Information Literacy

 “If you have a society where people can’t agree on basic facts,
how do you have a functioning democracy?”
Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron

ProQuest recently surveyed 217 librarians from university, community college, high school and public libraries in North America for their views and insights on information literacy. While 83% of librarians surveyed agree that information literacy affects college graduation rates and 97% believe that it contributes to success in the workforce, only 21% think that their users recognize information literacy’s effect on lifelong success, and 44% believe that their library does not support information literacy instruction as much as it should. Read a report on the full results of ProQuest’s 2016 Information Literacy Survey.

 What Is Fake News?

Although there are many definitions of fake news, the main characteristic is that it is created with an intent to deceive or mislead. Many fake news items are either largely or completely fictitious, and deliberately so. These stories imitate the look and style of real news articles, and they are published on sites designed to imitate established newspaper websites or political blogs, often with closely-related, similar or slightly misspelled domain names.

Melissa Zimdars, an associate professor of communication and media at Merrimack College in Massachusetts, compiled a list of websites that either purposely publish false information or are otherwise entirely unreliable. She tags the sites by category–false, misleading, unreliable, clickbait, satire, bias, hate, conspiracy theories, junk science, or sometimes a combination of several categories.

How Does Fake News Spread?

Most web publishers define their success by the amount of traffic their sites receive. They use this information to attract and bill advertisers based on the numbers of “clicks” or “hits” their site generates. Sometimes, the factual information or foundation of the article is not as important as the number of page views, because these can be used to generate more revenue from potential advertisers.

News sharing has become popular because people affirm their identities and affiliations by posting links to articles that reflect and support their own existing opinions and beliefs, and fake news stories are often strongly biased. Sometimes a story that was intended as satire circulates as factual information, or false information can originate when regular people who are misinformed post on social media sites. Web site owners can also pay a fee to have their site’s search results shown in top placement on the results page of different search engines.

Sharing fake news articles pushes them higher up in search result pages, causing others to come across them quickly and trust the content. This is supported by a study conducted at Northwestern University, where 102 college students went online to answer questions about topics relevant to them. How did the students assess the credibility of online content? When using a search engine, many students clicked on the first search result. They ignored the sponsoring organization and the article’s author, blindly trusting the search engine to put the most reliable results first.

Why Is Fake News Harmful?

Prior to the internet age, people relied on information in printed form–newspapers, magazines, journals, books, encyclopedias–or they watched the nightly television news. Doing any type of extensive research usually required a trip to the library to find the resources needed. The internet and social media have made it far easier for powerful entities to directly and quickly spread false or misleading information far and wide. One of the most troubling and dangerous aspects of fake news is the prevalence of private groups pushing their own agendas under the appearance of seemingly unbiased news.

An analysis by the digital media powerhouse BuzzFeed News found that top fake election news stories generated more total engagement on Facebook during the final three months of the 2016 presidential election campaign than reports from 19 major news outlets (including the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NBC News) combined.

The recent rise in fake news sites underscores the importance of teaching students independent research and critical thinking skills. It’s not enough to tell them to only use the school’s databases–they must learn how to evaluate the sources they find in the collective media sphere, including both print and digital sources. In its position statement on media literacy, the National Council for the Social Studies, an organization that supports social studies education in U.S. K-12 and higher education, argues that it’s important that students be able to “ask key questions, compare competing claims, assess credibility, and reflect on one’s own process of reasoning,” whether they are reading a printed book, a newspaper article or a Facebook post.

Are your students equipped with the information literacy skills to identify fake news? ProQuest Guided Research products equip students to learn information literacy skills. Free trials are available.

Five (or So) Facts About the U.S. Presidential Inauguration

This Friday the 58th U.S. Presidential Inauguration will take place at our nation’s capital when Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president. Here are some interesting facts about the history of the ceremony and related events that you may not know.

Inaugural Address:

In his second inaugural address in 1793, George Washington spoke just 135 words, the shortest inaugural address ever given. Juxtapose that with the speech William Henry Harrison gave in 1841. Harrison delivered an 8,495-word speech lasting one hour and forty five minutes in the middle of a snowstorm without a hat or coat. Harrison’s presidency also is known as the shortest. He died a month after the inauguration from complications of pneumonia. Many believed that the long exposure to the elements during his lengthy speech contributed to his death.

Inaugural Celebrations:

The first inaugural ball was held the night after James Madison was sworn into office. A ticket to the ball? It cost just $4, which today would be worth around $60. Tickets to Donald Trump’s inaugural ball are estimated to range from $25,000 to $1,000,000.

As part of Abraham Lincoln’s 1865 presidential inauguration, African Americans were allowed to participate in the inaugural parade for the first time ever.

Inauguration Attendance:

Even though much of this past election was downright rancorous, Barack Obama and Hillary and Bill Clinton are expected to be in attendance at Donald Trump’s inaugural swearing in. At Andrew Jackson‘s first inauguration in 1829, outgoing president John Quincy Adams did not attend. The bitter campaign for president left a bad taste in both men. Jackson blamed offensive verbal attacks by Adams and his supporters for the death of his wife.

The first inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009 smashed the record for attendance (estimated at 1.8 million) previously held by Lyndon B. Johnson’s second inauguration attendance of 1.2 million in 1965.

Official Day of Inauguration:

Most presidential inaugurations from 1797 to 1933 (John Adams to Franklin Delano Roosevelt) were held on March 4. Since 1933, with a few exceptions, the ceremony has been held on January 20. One reason the inaugurations were held on March 4, prior to 1933, was to give precincts and states time to hand count and deliver all the votes, all with little technological help. The extended period between the election and the day of inauguration also meant an extended lame-duck session in Congress. So in 1933, with a more modern communications and systems of voting, Congress passed the 20th Amendment to establish the new inauguration day of January 20.

When January 20 falls on a Sunday, the official oath is still given on that day, but the ceremony, and another ceremonial oath, takes place on Monday the following day.

Location of the Inauguration:

Thomas Jefferson was the first president inaugurated in Washington, D.C. Jefferson was also the first to be inaugurated at the Capitol building in Washington. Most of the inaugurations were held outside on the eastern front of the building until after Jimmy Carter‘s presidency. Since 1981, beginning with Ronald Reagan‘s presidency, most ceremonies have been held on the spacious west side to accommodate more spectators.

There have been some exceptions to the standard location over the years. For Franklin D. Roosevelt’s final inauguration the ceremony was held in the White House. Roosevelt would die three months later, and Harry Truman would be sworn into office in the Cabinet Room of the White House.

The weather during Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration was so cold (minus 7 degrees) the event had to be moved indoors to the Capitol Rotunda, which was very much unlike his first inauguration in 1981 when the temperature hit 55 degrees.

Lyndon Baines Johnson owns the infamous title of being the only president ever to been sworn into office on board an airplane. Following John F. Kennedy‘s assassination in 1963, Johnson, accompanied by Jackie Kennedy and over 25 other dignitaries, squeezed into the stateroom of Air Force One. As the jet powered up, the oath of office was administered and Johnson became the 36th president. This event also marked the first and only time a woman has administered the presidential oath of office (Federal Judge Sarah T. Hughes).

You can find out more about the U.S. presidential inaugurations by exploring eLibrary. Check out eLibrary’s Research Topics browse page or do a basic search of each president, and be sure to check out the page on Presidential Inaugurations.

Here are more resources:

ProQuest Research  Topics:
American Presidency
Presidential Inauguration
U.S. Congress
U.S. Constitution

Other Resources:
U.S. Capitol Overview (KRT Interactive, eLibrary)
U.S. Presidential Inaugurations: a Web Guide (Library of Congress)

 

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

“Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers….Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. Indeed, it is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1964

Stone of Hope at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Stone of Hope at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial (public domain)
via National Park Service

The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, a man who spent his life promoting nonviolent methods of social change to end segregation and discrimination and help African Americans gain their civil rights, was himself a victim of violence when he was assassinated outside his Memphis hotel room on the evening of April 4, 1968. Four days later, Michigan Congressman John Conyers introduced the first legislation providing for a Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday to honor King’s life and achievements. Dr. King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, headed the mission to rally popular support for a King Holiday. She worked for years, testifying before Congress, launching petition drives, and urging governors, mayors, and chairpersons of city councils across the U.S. to pass resolutions to honor her husband’s birthday on January 15.

While some individual states passed laws honoring Dr. King with a legal holiday, the idea of a federal holiday faced opposition and stirred controversy. Finally, in 1983, the legislation declaring the third Monday in January a federal legal holiday commemorating Dr. King’s birthday was signed by President Ronald Reagan. It was observed for the first time on January 20, 1986, though many states continued to boycott the holiday. It was not until 1999 that New Hampshire became the last state to make it a paid state holiday.

The only federal holiday commemorating an African-American is now celebrated each year as a remembrance of Dr. King’s life and work, and with people joining together to honor the civil rights leader’s memory through volunteer service to make an impact on their local and global communities.

You can learn more about the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the King Holiday by visiting these websites, available through SIRS Issues Researcher:

Dr. Martin Luther King Day

The King Center

Martin Luther King Day of Service

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site

Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute

Our 10 Favorite Education Blogs

It’s a new year and with that comes new goals. Maybe you want to incorporate technology into your classroom this year. Or create a makerspace. Maybe you’re interested in professional development. Whatever your 2017 goals are, having a collection of helpful education blogs to turn to is important. As ProQuest editors, we look to education blogs to gain insight on the issues near and dear to your hearts and ours so we want to share our top ten favorite education blogs so you can focus on what matters to you.

#10 — Worlds of Learning

Screenshot of Worlds of Learning

The tile format of this blog works well in showcasing everything from makerspaces to writing to libraries to coding and more. Everything is neatly organized by categories and this is the place to visit if you’re wondering about ways Disney World can impact the future of learning.

#9 — Edudemic

Screenshot of Edudemic

This is an education and technology blog. This blog is incredibly useful with articles covering topics such as social media and 1-to-1 computing while also addressing topics of student mental health. It breaks everything up into sections for students, teachers and teacher guides.

#8 — The EdTech Roundup

Screenshot of The EdTEch Roundup

This is another edtech blog. What makes this blog work well is its inclusion of lesson plans, suggested education apps, professional development ideas and ed tool reviews aside from its edtech blog posts. A bonus feature is an archive of its weekly edtech podcast from 2013 to 2014.

#7 — Common Sense Education

Screenshot of Common Sense Education blog

Common Sense Education is just that. The site brings reviews, teaching strategies, and digital literacy all together while its blog provides answers to navigating the best ed tools and how to decode teens’ digital lingo. A ‘Browse by Category’ feature helps organize all of the content.

#6 — Mind/Shift

Screenshot of Mind/Shift

Mind/Shift is a blog that goes outside the box. It approaches topics like being a more confident teacher and what makes the imagination so complex with expert commentary and media to back it up. It’s a great place to visit if you’re looking to be inspired or want a deeper look at an issue. The Mind/Shift tagline is ‘How we will learn” and this blog indeed focuses on the “how” of learning.

#5 — The Jose Vilson

Screenshot of The Jose Vilson blog

Jose Vilson’s blog addresses current events in the scheme of education and what role they play in shaping our students and classrooms. Jose is a teacher, author, speaker and activist, and his blog posts will stir healthy debates. One post titled, “Politics Are Always At Play In Our Classrooms” fiercely addresses how politics affects students.

#4 — Catlin Tucker

Screenshot of Catlin Tucker’s blog

Catlin Tucker’s blog focuses on blended learning and technology in the classroom. She includes her favorite web tools, interviews and a section on keynote presentations, training and coaching. She offers plenty of useful posts like MyShakespeare and Trading in Traditional Notebooks for Multimedia Blogs.

#3 — Edutopia

Screenshot of Edutopia

From Battling Fake News in the Classroom to 4 Proven Strategies for Teaching Empathy, Edutopia covers a wide range of topics for K12 educators. Edutopia combines research with experience to bring best practices to the forefront and showcase what works and what doesn’t in education. Each post is written with these points in mind.

#2 — Free Technology for Teachers

Screenshot of Free Technology for Teachers

Richard Byrne’s blog “Free Technology for Teachers” highlights useful digital tools, websites, and apps for educators. What’s great about his blog is that each post explains how to use those resources and incorporate them into the classroom. One such example is his post Storyboard That Offers Lesson Plans for Every Month where he alerts readers to Storyboard That’s free lesson plans.

#1 — The Daring Librarian

Screenshot of The Daring Librarian

The Daring Librarian is a wonderful collection of digital tool tips, personal anecdotes and photos from The Daring Librarian herself, Gwyneth A. Jones. Her posts are both informative and fun. Take her post Pokemon Go QR Code Library Scavenger Hunt where she explains how she created a QR code scavenger hunt inspired by the PokemonGo game.

 

What are your favorite education blogs? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest!

SIRS Discoverer Spotlight of the Month: National Poverty in America Awareness Month

On January 8, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson introduced War on Poverty legislation in his annual State of the Union address. He emphasized improved education as one of the foundations of the program. On August 20, 1964, he signed a $947.5 million antipoverty bill that was intended to help more than 30 million U.S. citizens.

Signing of the EOA

LBJ Signing Economic Opportunity Act of 1964
By US Government (LBJ Library) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

National Poverty in America Awareness Month promotes knowledge and understanding of the realities of poverty in the United States. According to the U. S. Census Bureau in 2015, more than 43 million Americans–13.5 percent of the population–lived in poverty. Reasons are complex and multifaceted and the effects on the nation are immense.

Building in Odessa, Minnesota

Building in Odessa, Minnesota
Photo by Greg Gjerdingen via flickr is licensed under CCA-SA 2.0 Generic

January’s Discoverer Spotlight of the Month explores the issue poverty in the United States. Use this month as an opportunity to examine poverty and perhaps even get involved in local anti-poverty campaigns. Direct your students to featured articles, images and websites to understand the many causes and ramifications of poverty. Dig deeper by researching the devastating Great Depression and the current impact of poverty on youth and families. Explore the Pro/Con Leading Issues: Poverty page as it highlights content for young researchers.

For more in-depth information:
Poverty USA
National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP)
Talk Poverty

90th Anniversary of “The Bridge of San Luis Rey”

The Bridge of San Luis Rey Research Topic

The Bridge of San Luis Rey Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

“On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below.” That is the opening line of Thornton Wilder’s 1927 novel, “The Bridge of San Luis Rey.” Makes you want to read more, does it not? In Wilder’s story, five people were walking on a century-old Inca rope bridge, a bridge which many in Peru thought would never collapse. Well, collapse it did, killing the five people who were walking across. The incident was witnessed by a Brother Juniper, a Franciscan monk, who began to wonder if the accident occurred due to a divine plan, or if it was simply a random tragedy. His curiosity led him to investigate the lives of the five victims in order to prove that God intended those people to die together at that moment in time. After his research, he wrote an enormous book about the subject that was found to be heretical by the Church, resulting in both Brother Juniper and his book being burned in a town square. But, in a creative device used by Wilder, one copy of the monk’s book survived, which is supposedly the basis of the novel.

Thornton Wilder Research Topic

Thornton Wilder Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

A year after “The Bridge of San Luis Rey” was published, Wilder wrote to a friend: “It seems to me that my books are about: what is the worst thing that the world can do to you, and what are the last resources one has to oppose it. In other words: when a human being is made to bear more than human beings can bear—what then? . . . The Bridge asked the question whether the intention that lies behind love was sufficient to justify the desperation of living.” What makes Wilder’s book the enduring novel it is has everything to do with the questions it poses about our purpose on Earth. It begins as a book about truth, and ends as a book about love. The end of the novel goes as follows: “But soon we shall die and all memory of those five will have left the earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”

The year 2017 marks the 90th anniversary of Thornton Wilder’s novel. Even after all this time, it is still read in many high schools, often assigned along with a reading of Wilder’s play “Our Town.” The novel has appeared on TIME Magazine’s list of the 100 best novels since 1923, and it ranked 37 on the Modern Library’s list of the 100 Greatest Novels of the 20th Century. I recommend blocking off a few hours this year (the novel is very short: I remember my brother’s copy was around 125 pages) to read Wilder’s excellent story. And while you are at it, please use eLibrary to brush up on Thornton Wilder and his other famous works.

Trivia:

Thornton Wilder was the winner of three Pulitzer Prizes: for his novel “The Bridge of San Luis Rey” (1928); for his play “Our Town” (1938) and for the play “The Skin of Our Teeth” (1942).

The Bridge of San Luis Rey” has been filmed three times: in 1929, 1944 and in 1994. The latest version starred Robert De Niro, F. Murray Abraham, Kathy Bates and Harvey Keitel.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair quoted from the novel when he was giving his remarks after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

Happy Birthday, Stephen Hawking!

Stephen Hawking Research Topic via ProQuest eLibra

“Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future,” Steve Miller wrote in his 1976 hit, “Fly Like an Eagle.” And so, time has once again quickly slipped into a new year.  Many long to forget 2016 with its spate of notable personality deaths.  Instead of lamenting the year past, let’s begin by wishing an early happy birthday to a man who became a “cultural icon” by writing about the beginning of time and the universe.

This coming Sunday marks the 75th birthday of the one of the most prominent scientists of our time, Stephen Hawking.  Dr. Hawking is well known for in scientific circles as a theoretical physicist and cosmologist which has led to a pop culture following outside that realm.  Dr. Hawking is a favorite scientist of Dr. Sheldon Cooper on TV’s The Big Bang Theory.  An intimate portrait of the man was made into a 2014 movie, The Theory of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne who won the Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of Hawking.

Born January 8, 1942 in Oxford, England, Hawking knew from a very young age he wanted to study mathematics.  Unable to pursue a degree in mathematics at University College, his father’s alma mater, Stephen studied physics and gained first class honors at graduation. This led to graduate research in cosmology and a PhD in applied maths and theoretical physics at Cambridge.  It was during his studies, at age 22, he was diagnosed with a slow-progressing form of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).  Despite his physical limitations, Dr. Hawking has not let his disease limit him professionally.  For thirty years, from 1979 to 2009, he served as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, a position once held by Isaac Newton.

In 1988 Hawking achieved worldwide acclaim with his bestselling book, A Brief History of Time.  He wrote the book to make topics in cosmology like the Big Bang and black holes more understandable and attainable.  Ever the research scientist, Professor Hawking continues to research and lecture on topics related to mathematics, cosmology and theoretical physics.  A current area of interest is the search for extraterrestrial life in the universe.

 

Crowdfunding for Schools

The need for classroom supplies never goes away. Unfortunately, funding for supplies is considered discretionary spending, so it is often the first area to get cut when school budgets tighten. It’s no secret that teachers spend a lot of their own money on supplies to fill the gaps. But in recent years, teachers have been relying on crowdfunding sites, which connect teachers with a large number of donors looking to help. In 2016, teachers raised over $100 million through DonorsChoose.org, a crowdfunding site that specifically caters to education projects.

Many school supplies purchased at the beginning of the school year need to be replenished as students return from the holiday break. If you are an educator in need of funds, consider crowdfunding. And if you are someone who wants to show your support for teachers and students, consider visiting crowdfunding sites to donate.

Are you conducting any crowdfunding campaigns for your school?

If so, tell us about them on Twitter @ProQuest or in the comments below.

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