Flower

Posts Tagged ‘ProQuest’

The New Kennedy Assassination Files

Kennedy Assassination ProQuest Research Topic

Kennedy Assassination ProQuest Research Topic

Tomorrow, November 22nd, marks the 54th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Late last month, scholars, amateur historians, and never-satisfied conspiracy junkies were poring over newly released files by the National Archives related to the assassination. The files have been released in accordance with the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act passed in 1992, which requires all materials related to the assassination be released within 25 years. However, to the chagrin of the conspiracy-minded hordes, several hundreds of files were blocked by President Trump at the behest of the CIA and FBI, who deemed some details within the withheld files would hurt U.S. national security or harm informants who are still alive today.

Educators can take this opportunity to teach students how to sift out fact from fiction with respect to this important moment in U.S. history with eLibrary’s significant content on Kennedy’s assassination and related topics.

Here is a sampling of the more interesting bits of information from eLibrary’s collection of newspaper articles reporting on the files released by the National Archives. Some information will perk the interest of conspiracy theorists:

Ruby Murders Oswald (Credit: Ira Jefferson "Jack" Beers Jr. (1910-2009) for The Dallas Morning News. Public Domain)

Ruby Murders Oswald (Credit: Ira Jefferson “Jack” Beers Jr. (1910-2009) for The Dallas Morning News. Public Domain)

  • The FBI warned Dallas Police that Lee Harvey Oswald’s life was in danger after he was taken into custody for Kennedy’s assassination.
  • Cambridge News, and a small daily British newspaper, received an anonymous tip of the assassination 25 minutes before the president was shot.
  • Russian-born Texas oilman, George de Mohrenschildt, met Lee Harvey Oswald at a social function in January 1963. de Mohrenschildt was George H.W. Bush’s prep school roommate’s uncle and was also a friend of first lady Jackie Kennedy’s parents.
  • Oswald visited the Soviet embassy in Mexico City just weeks before the assassination.
  • The CIA knew Oswald was in Dallas days before Kennedy was assassinated.
  • Soviet defector Lieutenant Colonel Yuri Nosenko, who had been spying on Oswald while living in the Soviet Union, said the KGB did not try to recruit Oswald because they thought him to be unstable.
  • The Soviet Union feared that they would be blamed for Kennedy’s assassination and had suspicions that Vice President Lyndon Johnson was responsible.

Teachers can explore further into eLibrary’s store of information beginning with its Research Topics on the Kennedy Assassination, John F. Kennedy, and Lee Harvey Oswald. Researchers can also dig deeper with searches using eLibrary’s homepage and advanced search pages.

Check out these other Research Topics to further your students’ in-depth study of this issue:

 

Evaluating Resources
Writing a Research Paper

American Presidency
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Lyndon B. Johnson
ProQuest Research Topic Guide: Cold War
Robert F. Kennedy
Soviet Union

The Origins of Halloween

As giddy children head out in the streets tonight for Trick or Treat with goody bags in hand, all dressed up in various ghoulish and festive costumes, it may interest students to know a little about the unusual history and traditions of Halloween. Educators can take advantage of eLibrary’s Research Topics and other documents and web resources to aid in their research.

Halloween ProQuest Research Topic

Halloween ProQuest Research Topic

Halloween, as we know it today, appears to have arisen from the convergence of two distinctly different cultures’ earlier holidays: the Irish Gaelic harvest festival Samhain (pronounced sow’in), celebrated with a feast for the dead, and the Roman Catholic Christian holiday of All Saints’ Day, or All Hallows’ Day, which also honored the dead. All Hallows’ Day was originally celebrated in mid-May and honored saints, martyrs, and family members who recently passed away.

Samhain, which is still celebrated today by some Brits and has its roots in Celtic Druidic traditions, marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. The belief was that during this time the divide between our world and the spirit world was at its thinnest and could be easily bridged. Families honored the dead by inviting them into their homes and offering food. However, when people went out at night, in order to avoid the more harmful spirits, they wore costumes and masks to disguise themselves. In addition, Druids built huge bonfires where people brought their fall harvest food to share with the community. Afterwards, people would take a log or branch from the bonfire to light their own fires at home which would keep them warm for the winter months ahead.

Celts ProQuest Research Topic

Celts ProQuest Research Topic

Around 600 A.D. Pope Gregory I, in an effort to Christianize and transform the rituals of the pagans, issued an edict to synthesize their Druidic practices into Christian practices to more easily convert them to Christianity. Eventually, All Hallows’ Day was moved from May 13 to November 1, with All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween) falling on October 31. As a result, many of the ancient Celtic traditions of Samhain survive today. Interestingly, around this same time, Mexico also celebrates El Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) holiday. Similar to All Saints’ Day and Samhain, but with roots from the Aztec culture, it is also considered a time to celebrate the fall harvest and honor those who have passed away.

Educators can teach students more about these ancient holidays and the people who practiced these ancient rituals and traditions with the help of eLibrary with its accompanying Halloween Research Topic and other related Research Topics and resources below.

Related Research Topics:
All Saints’ Day
Celts

Druidism
Paganism
Roman Catholicism
Day of the Dead

Other Resources:
Halloween
American Heritage (Magazine)
A World of Fright
Ottawa Citizen (Newspaper)
Saint Gregory I (Pope)
Britannica Concise Encyclopedia (Reference Book)

 

Back-to-School for Educators: ProQuest Is Here to Help

Are you ready to make or finalize lesson plans? Have you made your school year shopping trip yet? Do you know how you want to decorate your classroom? Educators have so much to do before the school year starts let alone during it. While there’s a lot to think about, having helpful tools ready to go and a checklist of what you need to do can make it easier. The ProQuest story is to curate enriching content, simplify workflows for our customers and connect with our vast community of educators, researchers, and librarians. As an editor that works on the Guided Research products, my department works hard to not just do all of the above but also to create new ideas and content that help students grow and thrive in K12 plus preparing for what comes after. Our editors do the research to come up with new Leading Issues and create them from beginning to end. We create new product features and curate the content that’s highlighted and we make sure our customers feel connected.

Simplifying an Educator’s School Year

Curating and Creating Content for All Researchers

SIRS Discoverer

Animal Facts and Pro/Con Leading Issues are two product features in SIRS Discoverer that were created in-house.

In collaboration with product management, Content Editor, Senior Jen Oms came up with the idea for Animal Facts and Content Editor, Senior Ilana Cohen came up with the idea for Pro/Con Leading Issues. Jen and Ilana both explained why they wanted these two features in SIRS Discoverer.

Before Animal Facts was created, Jen knew it was a feature SIRS Discoverer needed. She said the product had articles about animals, but it wasn’t enough. She wanted to simplify the time and process kids would have to go through to learn all the key facts on their favorite animals. She also wanted such a feature to complement the product. She knew SIRS Discoverer had articles on tigers for example. She wanted there to be an Animal Fact page for tigers too. Jen collaborated with another colleague Michelle Sneiderman to create what is now totaled at over 300 Animal Facts (with more being added). They modeled the idea on a 1-page table style of animal characteristics, conservation status and additional information like fun facts. Jen also said one of the main sources used to create Animal Facts came right from the encyclopedia content in SIRS Discoverer. Jen wanted Animal Facts to be robust and it is one of the most popular features in the SIRS Discoverer product.

Bobcat Animal Fact via SIRS Discoverer

Bobcat Animal Fact via SIRS Discoverer

The creation of Pro/Con Leading Issues for SIRS Discoverer seemed a logical decision. Ilana said it was modeled as an “entry-level pro/con research product for young audiences,” something the product didn’t have but would be beneficial. She created the initial pro/con issues and added supporting content in collaboration with a few other editors. These issues are created and updated dynamically on a yearly basis. While SIRS Issues Researcher includes main and sub-issues, SIRS Discoverer Pro/Con Leading Issues only contains main issues. It currently has 60 Pro/Con Leading Issues that students can choose from, and Ilana explained her process for choosing new ones to create includes looking at existing content and search reports. This feature also includes a Visual Literacy asset which presents a cartoon and pairs it with critical thinking questions. Pro/Con Leading Issues is also one of the most popular features in the SIRS Discoverer product.

Pro/Con Leading Issues via SIRS Discoverer

Pro/Con Leading Issues via SIRS Discoverer

SIRS Issues Researcher

Visual literacy, information literacy, and critical thinking are three skills the Guided Research products help build. SIRS Issues Researcher Leading Issues are created in-house. Editors curate the content to support them that students can debate and discuss in and out of the classroom.

Recently, I worked with my colleague Jeff Wyman to make it possible for our editorial team to create charts and statistics in-house. Sometimes our content providers lack this and we wanted a way for ProQuest editors to fill the gap when it happens. Knowing how to read charts is a skill that students can continue to develop as they advance in their research and go on to college.

EU Favorability Chart Created by ProQuest Staff

EU Favorability Chart Created by ProQuest Staff

SIRS Issues Researcher also includes Curriculum Guides that are helpful in building information literacy, visual literacy, critical thinking, and research skills. These guides help students understand editorial cartoons, infographics, primary sources, research, statistics and writing arguments.

Both Leading Issues and the skills they support drive the ProQuest story. We simplify educators’ workflows and not just curate, but create too. SIRS Issues Researcher delves into the heart of the issues affecting people all around the world every day. It gives students the chance to explore topics they may have never thought of before and think critically about them.

Connecting with Customers and Our Community

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

Find us on Facebook or Tweet us @ProQuest. We love our customers to reach out and say hello!

TDIH: First “Test-Tube Baby” Born

“I’m not a wizard or a Frankenstein tampering with Nature. We are not creating life.
We have merely done what many people try to do in all kinds of medicine–to help
nature. We found nature could not put an egg and sperm together, so we did it.”
Patrick Steptoe, who with Robert Edwards, perfected in vitro fertilization
of the human egg and delivered the world’s first “test-tube baby.”

In Vitro Fertilization via Pixabay [Public Domain]

It’s hard to imagine now, but when the first baby was born as the result of in vitro fertilization (IVF) on July 25, 1978, it was highly controversial. The birth attracted opposition from scientists and religious leaders, and international media attention. Louise Brown, the world’s first so-called “test tube baby” was conceived in a laboratory and born at Oldham General Hospital in England. The term “test-tube baby” is actually a misnomer, since IVF is usually performed in shallower glass containers called Petri dishes. After the birth was announced, her parents received bags full of hate mail from across the globe, as well as fan letters. While some are still opposed to IVF for ethical and religious reasons, more than 5 million children have been born worldwide through its use. Nearly 68,000 babies were born using IVF methods in the U.S. alone in 2015.

Louise Brown Holding the 1000th Bourn Hall Baby, 1987
Courtesy Bourn Hall Clinic, via National Library of Medicine [CC BY 4.0]

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 10% to 15% of couples in the US are infertile—meaning they are unable to conceive through natural means. The IVF technique was pioneered by two doctors in Cambridge, England–gynecologist Patrick Steptoe and reproductive biologist Robert Edwards. Their research led to the successful fertilization of a human egg outside the body and the transfer of the resulting embryo to the womb of Lesley Brown. A healthy baby girl was delivered to Lesley and her husband John after they had tried unsuccessfully to conceive a child for 15 years using natural methods. Two years later Steptoe and Edwards founded the world’s first IVF clinic, Bourn Hall Clinic, near Cambridge, England. The techniques and drugs now used around the world were first developed there.

Today, despite objections to its use (for example, Catholic hospitals often prohibit doctors from performing basic reproductive services including IVF), it has become much more widely accepted. For the most part, the ethical debate going on now is not so much about IVF itself, but the on the limits or constraints that should be placed on its use. Since the first IVF baby was born only 39 years ago, the long-term risks are not known. If a couple divorces, who gets custody and control of their frozen embryos? IVF enables single women to become mothers, same-sex couples to have a child of their own, and older women who are past menopause to become mothers. (In 2016, a 70-year-old Indian woman became the world’s oldest mother by using IVF.)

The average cost for IVF in the U.S. ranges from $12,000-$15,000 and can go much higher depending on individual circumstances and variables like the mother’s age or whether a surrogate is used. Although some insurance companies cover IVF procedures, many don’t. As a result, only people with the financial means to afford costly assisted reproductive technologies are able to take advantage of them, shutting out lower-income people who also want to become parents.

Screen Cap from SIRS Issues Researcher

Educators, direct your students to the new and updated SIRS Issues Researcher to dig deeper into the topic of Human Reproductive Technology. This Leading Issue explores these issues in-depth by asking users the Essential Question, “Does the use of human reproductive technology challenge the basic ideas of conception?” Background information, a timeline, viewpoint articles, multimedia resources and questions for critical thinking and analysis and are provided. They can also explore these other related Leading Issues:

Anonymous Eggs and Sperm Donation

Genetic Testing

Human Cloning

Stem Cells

Surrogacy

SIRS Issues Researcher supports state, national and international learning standards. Don’t have it? Request a free trial.

Subscribe via email to Share This and never miss a post.

I Used ProQuest Products to Enrich My Summer Vacation — in Amsterdam!

One of the things I love about working for ProQuest is how much I learn and how I have been able to incorporate some of what I’ve learned into my personal life, including, most recently, my summer vacation.

Last summer, I blogged about the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), and while researching RAGBRAI, I learned how local libraries helped make lives easier for the cyclists.

Hearing the enthusiastic responses from the librarians in Iowa about the RAGBRAI summer cycling event inspired me to plan and partake in my own bicycle adventure.

From Inspiration to Reality

This summer, I took my son to Amsterdam, a city famous for cycling. There, we spent eight days biking around the city and getting in touch with our Dutch roots — our ancestors immigrated from Holland to New York, some 300 years ago, when it was called New Amsterdam. (And, yes, I even learned a bit about New Amsterdam via a ProQuest eLibrary Research Topic page called Dutch Colonies in America!)

House Boat Living

House Boat Interior

View from my bedroom window on our house boat on the Amstel River in Amsterdam. The boat had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, dining area and stocked kitchen. (Credit: Amy Shaw)

Before our trip, I remembered something else I had learned at work. From ProQuest’s CultureGrams, I had read about how some Dutch people live in house boats (CultureGrams has a neat slideshow and video on house boats in the Netherlands.) So, for our grand adventure, my son and I decided to do as the Dutch do and stayed in our very own house boat. (And, it even came with bikes!)

I was told by an Amsterdammer (or Mokummer, the nickname for a person born in Amsterdam) that the weather in their city can be quite unpredictable and that you must always have these four things with you: an umbrella, a rain jacket, a sweatshirt (or sweater) and comfortable shoes that can handle getting wet. But I already knew all that from my ProQuest research.

That said, as prepared as we were, we still managed to get drenched one day while boating in Giethoorn, a charming village of thatched-roof homes near Amsterdam. (Giethoorn is mostly car-free as the locals get around by boat instead.)

We had gotten caught in a downpour like the ones we’ve experienced in our hometown in South Florida, only the weather in Holland was much colder. But, no worries, because some restaurants will give you nice, fluffy blankets to warm up in while you eat!

Cycling in Amsterdam

Every time we parked our bikes in the city, we took a picture of our bikes and the location so we wouldn’t forget where to find them. (Credit: Amy Shaw)

As for the cycling in Amsterdam, if you’ve never done it before, you are in for a shock at the sheer numbers of bicycles (more than 800,000)! Nearly everyone rides bikes there, no matter the weather or the season. I asked a local if she even biked in the winter and she said yes, through snow or rain.

With all those cyclists, it is important to be careful and always look in all directions and especially keep an eye out for mopeds, which also share the roads and paths (fietspaden) designated for bikes.

Babboe Cargo Bike

Cargo bikes are common in the Netherlands. Some have seat belts in them for hauling children. (Credit: Amy Shaw)

Our biggest regret about Amsterdam is that our trip ended too quickly, but we will be sure to return. In the meantime, we really miss the food there, so we are making plans to try some of the Dutch recipes on CultureGrams.

RAGBRAI 2017

Oh, and coincidentally, this year’s RAGBRAI in Iowa opens on July 22nd in Orange City, Iowa, with the theme Dutch til’ Dawn, reflecting the city’s Dutch heritage.

More Pictures


Clockwise from left: Supermarket purchase, Unusual house boat on the Amstel River, Marsh land outside Giethoorn (Credit: Amy Shaw)

Epic Video

After our trip, I found this cool music video created by a Silicon Valley family that is moving to Amsterdam. Check it out here: http://www.sfgate.com/travel/article/family-leaves-SF-epic-video-11275244.php

What Inspires You?

Learning from librarians about a cycling adventure and reading about different cultures at work inspired me to take a trip of a lifetime. What have you learned in the classroom or at work that has enriched your life in some way? Tweet us at #ProQuest.

Teddy Roosevelt, Our National Monuments, and The Antiquities Act of 1906

On the 8th of June, 1906, President Teddy Roosevelt signed into law the Act for the Preservation of American Antiquities, more familiarly known as the Antiquities Act of 1906. The law gives the President of the United States the authority, by executive proclamation, to create national monuments from federally-owned public lands in order to protect important “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest.” On September 24, 1906, almost four months after he signed the bill, Roosevelt proclaimed Devils Tower in Wyoming as the first national monument in the United States. Devils Tower was the first of many that he would designate as national monuments under his presidency.

Since the first day of its signing, the law has been steeped in controversy pitting lawmakers, landowners, and resource extraction industries against environmentalists, conservationists, and federal land managers who have sought greater protections. Just last month President Trump ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review national monuments created since 1996, which the President called “a massive federal land grab.”

With this review now taking place it’s a perfect time for science and social educators alike to explore with their students the history and background of the Antiquities Act and the lands the act is meant to protect. There are some basic question that teachers may want to ask their students:

  • What are national monuments and why do we need them?
  • What was the intent of the Antiquities Act of 1906?
  • What protections does the law afford, and what rights and responsibilities do landowners and lesees have inside national monument lands?
  • What scientific and cultural values do these national monuments have?

The current review by the Trump administration will look at around 24 national monuments designated since 1996, many of which reside in California, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada. You can learn more in eLibrary about our nation’s national monuments and the national parks that were originally designated as monuments. Not yet a subscriber to ProQuest products? Request a Free Trial here!

Here is a partial list of the national monuments under review by the Trump administration:

Bears Ear National Monument
Vermilion Cliffs
Canyons of the Ancients
Giant Sequoia National Monument
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

And here is a sample of national monuments and national parks that were originally designated as national monuments:

Chaco Canyon (New Mexico)
Mesa Verde National Park
(Colorado)
Petrified Forest National Park (Arizona)
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (Arizona)
Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)
Olympic National Park (Washington)
Muir Woods National Monument
Death Valley National Park (California)
Katmai National Park and Preserve (Alaska)
Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)
Capitol Reef National Park (Utah)

Oh No! The Dreaded Research Paper!

One of the biggest challenges for teachers is helping students overcome the fear of writing the research paper. Students will invariably ask: “What should I write about? How do I get started? Where do I find the information for my subject? It’s due when?!” Not only is it a challenge for students to get started and take the time to research their subject thoroughly, but also be under pressure with a deadline to finish it. It’s up to the teacher to help students navigate these obstacles and be successful with their research papers. ProQuest may be able to help you in this endeavor.

ProQuest’s eLibrary can help you guide your students through the research process from beginning to end with its Research Topic on Writing a Research Paper. There is a section on the elements and processes of writing with articles on critical thinking skills, note-taking, evaluating sources, and revising and editing their papers, along with other helpful articles.

One aspect of writing a research paper is using and citing reliable information sources. In the past several months fake news has become a topic of interest in national politics, but it can be a great teaching tool as part of your research instruction by showing students the difference of what is and is not reliable information. eLibrary also has a Research Topic on Fake News, with articles about the characteristics of fake news, evaluating sources, and how to recognize fake news when it is presented.

Another source for helping you guide your students through the research process is the ProQuest Research Companion, a self-guided tool that assists them in doing more effective research and helps you teach the fundamentals of finding and evaluating useful, reliable information. Research Companion can help your students wade through what is often an overwhelming amount of information by guiding their research effort. It is comprised of ten Learning Modules and five interactive tools arranged to automate the stages of the research process.

Also, be sure to check out Jeff Wyman’s blog How to Identify Fake News in 10 Steps and Christie Riegelhaupt’s blog Fake News: Teaching Students to Evaluate Sources.

Research can be hard for for first-time researchers, and even seasoned students can find it difficult wading through the process of gathering information, drafting, revising, editing, and finalizing their research papers. But maybe it can be less painful with a little help from ProQuest.

Pi Day and Albert Einstein

Today many educators, including math teachers, who are looking for ways to engage students’ minds can sweeten the learning curve by celebrating March 14 (3.14), Pi Day. Just like pi, there are infinite possibilities in motivating students in learning this mathematical constant (as long as they get to eat the examples, of course). Making pies, cookies, cakes, and other circular foods (don’t forget about pizza!) of different sizes can all play a part in motivating students in discovering the wonders of pi.

Students can double down on the learning experience because today is also the birthday of the world’s most celebrated scientist, Albert Einstein. And you can bet that Einstein was no stranger to pi. March 14 is a wonderful opportunity to enlighten your students about the endless fascination to the mathematical constant pi (3.14), and at the same time teach them about the extraordinary life of one of our greatest scientists. Be sure to click on the pi and Albert Einstein images below to open ProQuest Research Topics to learn more on both, or search eLibrary here.

Here are some facts about both Pi and Albert Einstein:

Pi

  • Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter (circumference divided by diameter).
  • Pi is an irrational number meaning that it cannot be written as a fraction and therefore has to be expressed as an infinite non-repeating decimal.
  • The Babylonians first calculated the area of a circle around 2,000 B.C.
  • Archimedes was the first to use the calculation of pi. He roughly calculated the area of a circle using the Pythagorean Theorem to find the areas of two regular polygons.
  • The earliest adoption of the Greek symbol for pi (π) was by William Jones.
  • The closest fraction representing pi is 22/7.
  • English singer-songwriter Kate Bush has a song called “Pi” in which she sings the number’s first 100 decimal places.

Albert Einstein

  • Einstein dropped out of high school and failed his first college entrance exam.
  • Adolph Hitler considered Einstein enemy number one. After Hitler’s ascendancy to Chancellor of Germany, he had his house sacked while he was in California. Einstein never returned to Germany.
  • Family members say Albert didn’t start to speak until the age of four.

  • Einstein was a member of the NAACP. When Einstein arrived in America he was shocked by how African Americans were treated. Before he moved to America he frequently corresponded with civil rights leader and founder of the NAACP, W.E.B. Dubois.
  • In less than one year in 1905, Einstein, an unknown scientist at the time, wrote and published his Annu mirabilis (The Miracle Year) papers. In these papers, he redefined the laws of physics and altered our views on space, time, mass, and energy, and laid the foundation for all modern physics we know today.
  • After Einstein’s death, Princeton University pathologist Thomas Stoltz Harvey performed Einstein’s autopsy. He removed his brain for research purposes but strangely kept it at his house for over 40 years. Some time later in the 1990s, he took the brain on a strange trip across America in the trunk of a Buick Skylark.

5 Reasons to View a ProQuest Webinar!

quote

Created with recitethis.com

Professional development is pivotal for any educator to stay on top of trends, utilize tools, and prepare themselves for success in the classroom or library. Here are five reasons to register for a live session or watch a recorded ProQuest webinar or video today:

1. Use It or Lose It. Money doesn’t grow on trees and neither does your budget. With every precious budget dollar, you want to make sure you are using every resource effectively. Since each ProQuest webinar is with a live person, that means you can ask questions and learn from a professional how resources can match your individual needs. And if you watch a recorded webinar, trainers are available via email to answer any questions.

2. New Updates and Products. ProQuest products are updated regularly to stay relevant for educators. Webinars help you stay on top of the latest updates to products like CultureGrams, eLibrary, SIRS and ProQuest Research Companion.

3. Educator Tools. You may not realize that ProQuest products have many useful educator tools to help apply resources to your curriculum. Many webinars focus on tools to make your work easier like curriculum guides, note organizers, activities, lesson plans, and tutorials

4. Just Like Coffee, Training Can Be Customized. If your class or topic of interest isn’t posted on the online schedule, that’s OK! Help is just an email away. Contact the team at training@proquest.com and they will schedule a class for you.

5. Equipped Teachers Light Fires. When you are fully equipped with the best educational tools and resources, then you are prepared to equip your students as lifelong learners. You are the spark that lights their fire and passion for learning. Then the possibilities are endless!

ProQuest training resources are available to help you. Sign up or watch a video today!

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.