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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.

Fake News: Teaching Students to Evaluate Sources

In an era where students search for information online via search engines and social media, they need the ability to identify and distinguish reputable sources from deceptive sources. In other words, they need to be able to tell the difference between real and fake news. A November 2016 study from Stanford researchers has concluded that students are not prepared.

Our “digital natives” may be able to flit between Facebook and Twitter while simultaneously uploading a selfie to Instagram and texting a friend. But when it comes to evaluating information that flows through social media channels, they are easily duped.--“Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning,” Stanford History Education Group

Source Evaluation Aid Available in ProQuest Research Companion

Source Evaluation Aid Available in ProQuest Research Companion

ProQuest Research Companion is here to help. Equip students with information literacy skills through self-paced learning modules, assessments, and tools such as the Source Evaluation Aid. The embedded video above is an example of the material available in the evaluating sources learning module.

ProQuest’s Guided Research products such as CultureGrams, eLibrary, and SIRS Issues Researcher offer authoritative content that is vetted and packaged for middle and high school students. Besides reliable information and tools, you can also find supplementary handouts to guide students step by step such as the SIRS Issues Researcher: Research Guide for the Critical Thinker.

Don’t have ProQuest Research Companion or other Guided Research products? Request a Free Trial!

Training for Your ProQuest Resources

Libraries see surge in e-book demandDon’t forget that ProQuest provides free training.  Our Training and Consulting Partners team is available at any time to meet with you via a privately scheduled webinar.  Just email us to make an inquiry.  We also provide regularly scheduled public webinars.  You can contact our team to discuss your questions about ProQuest resources, and we are also happy to focus privately scheduled sessions on topic areas of particular interest to you. 

This is just one of the many benefits you derive from licensure to your ProQuest resources!

 

Information Literacy Along with Information Resources

2016-03-29_10-36-42

ProQuest Research Companion was developed to address the need of teaching information literacy and research skills to students, thus helping them take better advantage of your library’s information resources and at the same time providing them with lifetime learning skills. One of the best parts about ProQuest Research Companion is that it is flexible.  You may choose to use it simply as a reference tool, the sections of which may be accessed at will for instruction or support, or you may set it up so that individuals may progress through its organized construction and monitor their progress.  You may support your existing research skills materials and reference resources by connecting to them from within ProQuest Research Companion, or you may pull the instructional sections out of ProQuest Research Companion and incorporate them with your outside information literacy instructional content.  The idea is to make it adaptable for you, so that you can maximize its benefit for your students.

Join the ProQuest Training and Consulting team to learn more about ProQuest Research Companion as well as all of your other ProQuest resources.  You may sign up for one of our public webinars at any time.  If you don’t see the webinar or time you’re looking for, you are always welcome to contact us to arrange a private session.

ProQuest Research Companion Is Nominated for TWO CODiE Awards!

ProQuest Research Companion has been nominated for two SIIA CODiE Awards under the categories of Best Reading/English/Language Arts Instructional Solution and Best Source for Reference or Education Resources.

The SIIA CODiE Awards, now in their twenty-ninth year, hold the distinction of being the industry’s only peer-reviewed awards program.

CODiE_2015_finalist_black

Judges with considerable industry expertise carefully evaluate each product using rigorous category-specific criteria. Winners of the respective categories will be announced at SIIA’s education technology conference in May and the information industry summit in June.

ProQuest is grateful for industry recognition of its flagship information literacy product. Another recent recognition was in the February 2015 edition of School Library Journal where ProQuest Research Companion was honored as as a Best Database by Mahnaz Dar, associate editor.

Research Companion was built to help students do more effective scholarly research and to support educators as they teach the core information literacy principles of finding, evaluating, and using information.

Check out the ProQuest Research Companion YouTube channel to see how this informational literacy product can benefit you!

Making Connections with Your ProQuest Tools

PQRC Connections

Do you have ProQuest Research Companion?  If so, congratulations on an outstanding new research instructional tool!  Perhaps you also have ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher.  If so, did you know you can connect the My Analysis research tools page in ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher to related modules in ProQuest Research Companion?  You can, and it’s easy to do!  All you need is to copy your My Analysis URL and paste it as a link to the Recommended Resources section in ProQuest Research Companion, using your Admin login.  Your students will not only be referred to a great learning tool in ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher, but they can also jump from there right into their research.

You don’t have to stop there.  You can connect any Web-accessible site as a Recommended Resource in ProQuest Research Companion.  Let us show you how.

We can show you more. Join the ProQuest Training and Consulting Partners in one of our free monthly webinars to learn how ProQuest can make success easier in student projects.

Do you have a class you’d like us to provide or a topic you’d like us to address? We’re happy to work with you directly and we’d love to hear from you! You can email us at training@proquest.com and we’ll get back in touch with you quickly to answer questions or make arrangements.

ProQuest Research Companion Is Now Better Than Ever

ProQuest Research Companion, our newly introduced information literacy and research teaching tool, has just taken a great leap forward!

PQRC ASSESSMENT

Added June – August, just in time for the new school year, are some exceptional features that make this essential tool even more versatile in the library and the classroom.  Now you can. . .

1) Add links to your favorite Recommended Resources in each module
2) Embed single video segments, or an entire module of videos, where you need them
3) Enable Self-check and Review assessments along with each video segment

All of this adds up to more engagement, more customization, and more learning right where you need it.

Research has never been better. . .

Join the ProQuest Training and Consulting Team for a free live summer online class at http://www.proquestk12.com/go/trainingsignup.

If your class or topic of interest isn’t posted, that’s OK — we’ll schedule it for you directly. Just get in contact with us at training@proquest.com, or contact the K-12 / public library specialists directly: jeff.cutler@proquest.com, deborah.bergeron@proquest.com, or wendell.butler@proquest.com.

We’re happy to assist in any way we can to help expand the great value you receive from ProQuest!

ProQuest Research Companion Winner at ISTE 2014

On June 29-July 1, 2014, ed tech professionals, educators and administrators stormed Atlanta, GA, for the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) annual conference. ProQuest was there in the middle of all the action in Hot lanta showcasing our newest product: ProQuest Research Companion. Our new product was not only welcomed but recognized!

The influential trade publication Tech & Learning named Research Companion Best of Show. The award was made on the basis of its “quality and effectiveness,” “ease of use,” and for its “creative use of technology.”

So what made ProQuest Research Companion stand out at ISTE?

Adam Blackwell

Product Manager Adam Blackwell at ISTE 2014
proudly displaying the Best of Show award. (Credit: ProQuest)

No, it wasn’t the suave British accent of its Product Manager, Adam Blackwell. Although, that didn’t hurt either!

ProQuest Research Companion shines because it was created directly based on feedback from you–the educator. You told us you needed help teaching students how to research, select sources, evaluate web sites, cite their work and in general be information literate. And you needed this in a way that could be flipped, mobile-ready, standards-aligned, personalized, and assessed.

We heard you and created 100 proprietary videos with assessment questions that guide users step by step through the research process and five interactive tools that automate important research tasks like evaluating sources by drawing on a huge powerhouse of data exclusive to ProQuest.

The buzz has started. Don’t take our word for it! Check out the feedback we’ve received from customers and users so far:

tweet

“we have a chapter in our book that covers a lot of the same material, but the kids seem to like the videos”

“really good examples and such that reinforce what I teach my seniors already”

“the interface is very clean and attractive”

“good to assign the videos for homework and use them for class discussion the next day”

“wow! It’s pretty snappy, very responsive and quick.”

“I’d be thrilled to integrate these videos into my online course. Thrilled. I can put all this stuff in writing, but they miss so much information when it’s presented almost solely through text.”

“I love this tutorial. It’s pretty much what I talk about in a classroom setting and would be perfect for online classes.”

“my immediate thought was this would be great for a parent!”

Try ProQuest Research Companion for yourself. Sign up for a free trial today!

Uncle Tom’s Cabin Published 162 Years Ago Today

Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1811-1896
[Public Domain]
Photo from Library of Congress

After being printed as a serial in an abolitionist newspaper, Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly was published as a completed book on March 20, 1852. It quickly became a sensation and sold 3 million copies before the U.S. Civil War began.

Born in Connecticut to a large family, Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle’s Tom’s Cabin in response to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Living in Ohio just across the border from Kentucky, Stowe has firsthand experience with fugitive slaves. Furthermore, the life of slave in Maryland named Josiah Henson inspired her to write the story. Stowe was skilled storyteller and she used vivid imagery to show Northerners the atrocities of slavery. The impact of the book has led many historians say that it contributed to the start of the U.S. Civil War.

SIRS Discoverer provides biographical information on Harriet Beecher Stowe and the publication of this influential novel.

Have you read Uncle Tom’s Cabin? If so, why is this work of fiction such a significant part of American history?

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