Tag Archives: Thinking Skills

Fake, Fiction or Fact? How can learners be helped to work out what’s true?⤴

from @ ICT for Teaching & Learning in Falkirk Primary Schools

There are so many choices for sources of news for learners to find out about what’s going on the world today, whether printed media, online news sites or social media. But how can learners be helped to be able to work out if what they are reading has any substance in fact, how accurate the information is, or what the biases are likely to be?

How can you spot fake news?

howtospotfakenewsinfographicHow to Spot Fake News – the IFLA (the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions), with thanks to www.factcheck.org, created an infographic detailing steps we can all take when trying to work out if what we are reading, hearing or watching is verifiable. This helps teach the skills of critical thinking and media literacy. This describes with visual representation 8 steps to take to help determine the likely authenticity of shared information: to consider the source, to read beyond the headline, the check credibility of the author, to look at linking sources, to check the date to see if current, to research to see if it’s satire, to consider your own biases and the likely ones of the source sharing the information, and to consult fact-checking sites. The infographic is available to download as either an image or in pdf format for printing.


Digital Literacy and “Fake News” – Resources to Help you help your students – many links collated by librarian-turned-technology-specialist Nancy Watson @nancywtech which help teachers guide their learners through ways to spot fake news and techniques to work out the authenticity of the shared information. The links include sites aimed at different age groups, teachers, younger learners, as well as for general public use. They include fact-checking sites as well as tips and advice to determining reliability of what is shared.

nwfakenewsepidemicDigital Literacy and the “Fake News” EpidemicNancy Watson has produced a superb resource for educators sharing a host of advice, tips and resources to support teachers support their learners to better be able to be discerning about the information shared online or in the print media. This includes examples of fake news and outlines the steps anyone can take to determine it to be factually inaccurate.

nprfakeorrealFake or real? How to self-check the news and get the facts – a post by digital news intern Wynne Davis describing the issue of fake news and giving practical advice for all ages about how to help determine whether what you are reading is true or fiction. Tips include checking the domain name (especially similar-sounding names), looking at quotations in the story (and checking up on who they are and anything known about them online), searching the quote itself to see if it properly attributed or taken out of context, check the comments to get a flavour of whether others call out the facts as being untrue and cite sources to back up their claims, reverse image search (right click on an image online and choose to search Google for it to see where else it is used and the context in which it is used).

Internet Archive and Wayback Machine

internetarchiveWouldn’t it be great if, when someone says content has changed on a website, or disappeared completely, that there was a way to look back at what was there beforehand? Well, The Internet Archive saves a huge amount of online content from many sources around the web (several hundred billion webpages!). This relies on the Wayback Machine (which is part of the Internet Archive) trawling on a regular basis for changed content. So if you search for a website and it is no longer available you can pop the weblink into the Wayback Machine (which is part of The Internet Archive) and look back at previous versions just by choosing a specific date. It will only be available for dates on which a trawl was made so is not available for every date but it’s still very impressive to be able to look at a website change over time and to be able to compare and contrast with versions over time.

savepagenowCan you save a web page on Wayback machine so it’s always there for future reference? Yes you can! You can simply capture a web page as it appears now for future use as a trusted citation in the future, or just to ensure it does not disappear when the original website changes or disappears. All you do is paste the weblink when you first find it on the Save Page Now” part of the Internet Archive site.

Fact-checking sites

There are a number of sites which can be used to verify whether stories (particularly those which appear on social media and spread like wildfire) have any basis in fact or whether they are urban myths, or out and out lies or propaganda. These include Politifact, Snopes, and Factcheck.org

Do you think you read with your bias? What bias does the writer have?

biasesaffectingusallBiases which affect us all – an infographic created by Business Insider which lists and describes 20 biases which we can all have when we read, hear or share information. Whether it’s a tendency to have a reliance on the first piece of information we hear, whether we are influenced by hearing the same information shared by a group, whether the information confirms what we already believed, stereotyping, or information which implies cause and effect, or many more – this infographic provides a useful starting point for discussing with learners the range of influences on us all when we all read or hear information.


7 things you didn’t know about Wikipedia (1 of 7) – It is pretty accurate [@wikimediauk @Wikimedia @Wikipedia]⤴

from @ OllieBray.com

Wikipedia Banner

Love it or hate it Wikipedia is a big part of our lives and its certainly a big part of our online browsing experience. Whether we admit to it or not many people consult Wikipedia on a regular basis to answer their questions. A large part of this is due to the fact that Google loves Wikipedia more than any other site on the Internet. In fact it gets presented as the top search result to more search queries than anything else, even Google itself.

Anyway, one of the challenges for educators using Wikipedia is trying to get students to use it appropriately and really to understand what it is and what it can do.

This series of posts should give you a few ideas.


7 things you didn’t know about Wikipedia (1 of 7) – It is pretty accurate

About five years ago one local authority in Scotland even banned it for a short while and you unfortunately hear about cases like this on a school-by-school basis from time-to-time.

To be honest there has never been any point in banning Wikipedia in schools. Students will continue to access it when they go home or on their mobile phones and therefore still use it to gain information (no matter how accurate you think that information is). Also, as I have argued time and time again, if we ban Wikipedia in schools how can we ever teach young people to use this resource in a safe and responsible way? Indeed, It is the same argument for almost all social networking sites.

What we should be doing is teaching students how to use Wikipedia properly – because it’s not going away.

It continues to annoy me when people simply dismiss Wikipedia as a source because they feel it is not actuate. In my experience these are people who don’t really understand how it works and teachers need to understand how Wikipedia works so they can pass on this knowledge to their students.

So, lets start with the facts there have been numerous studies over the years that discuss the reliability of Wikipedia. There is even a Wikipedia article on it!

I still rate some of the original research from the University of Colorado , which argues that (at the time it was published) some articles were more actuate than similar articles in Britannica. 

However, the simple truth and answer to the accuracy question is that, like books, WIkipedia is full of mistakes. But, unlike books Wikipedia openly acknowledges that it might not be accurate. You don’t have to look very far through it pages to see disclaimers like:

  • 'The factual accuracy is disputed'
  • 'This article contradicts another article'
  • 'This article contradicts itself'
  • 'This article reads like an advertisement'
  • 'This article needs additional citation for verification'

Wikipedia edit 1

The interesting thing about these and the many other disclaimers that appear over Wikipedia is that by acknowledging that it could be wrong it is actually adding credibility to its articles.

I can’t remember ever seeing disclaimers like these in a more traditional encyclopedia (eg: Britannica) or certainly a Sunday newspaper. But, as we all know these traditional sources can also be wrong and the errors are often just corrected in a re-print of the encyclopedia or as an apology by the newspaper months or years later (which are never linked to the original digital source).

Wiki citations

Young people should be being taught to question everything that they read online and in print.

The Wikipedia (and Wikimedia) disclaimers help remind us of this and should be being used by educators as a teaching and learning point. Fundamentally, we should be getting children to use a bit of common sense to decide for themselves if something is true or not.




Key Message: Educators should use the disclaimers as a starting point to help their students think about an article and its sources in a more critical way. 


Wikipedia Belongs to education

Guy Claxton – 5 things to try.⤴

from @ Robert DrummondRobert Drummond »

I was able to attend a talk by Prof Guy Claxton yesterday. Despite the room being way too warm and forgetting to take my bottle of water, it was a really thought provoking talk and left me with some things I want to try in school on Monday (and beyond) and certainly made me want […]

Can computers keep secrets? How a Six-Year-Old’s Curiosity Could Change the World [Book Review] @NoTosh⤴

from @ OllieBray.com

Can Computers Keep Secrets

I’ve known Tom Barrett for years and followed his career as a classroom teacher (communicated though his Blog ICT in my Classroom), to school senior leader (http://edte.ch/blog) to his most recent position as senior consultant for NoTosh Australia.

One of the many things that I respect about Tom is that his practice has always been firmly rooted in teaching and learning. Over time I have enjoyed following his classroom and, more recently, his international adventures. Having read his blog for a long time, it will come as no surprise that I was looking forward to reading his first (I am sure there will be more!) book titled, ‘Can computers keep secrets? How a Six-Year-Old's Curiosity Could Change the World.

Published by NoTosh I was even more excited by the looming launch when I read a tweet from Joanna Moult (the books published / editor) which said,

“Ooh! Our first @NoTosh book by @tombarrett has just arrived in proof form and it looks GORGEOUS. pic.twitter.com/nZQ2CgACQ3

So, stranded (mid-afternoon) in a bar in Reykjavík, Iceland (it really is a hard life!) I downloaded the book to my kindle.

Toms BookFor some reason (probably because of the word ‘beautiful’) I had it in my head that the book would be full of pictures? And I was initially a bit disappointed not to see any pictures as a flicked though some of the digital pages.

Now I didn’t intend to read the full book.

But, as I was waiting for the rain to stop outside I started to read the first few pages. Another pint and a couple of hours later I ran out of text having digested a beautiful and addictive read – lost in Tom’s words, the time just seemed to slip away as I found myself nodding and smiling as I weaved my way through the text.

The narrative is wonderfully written, highly personal, linked with beautiful prose combining both personal observations, thoughts and research.

Through real-life questions from Tom's six year old boy, "George' including...

  • If you had super powers how do you control them?
  • What is the crumbliest thing in the world?
  • How tall is a rainbow?
  • Why do brains work at night?
  • Does Darth Vader have freckles?

…Tom explores what it means to be curious and the importance of children asking questions to help them understand an increasingly complex world.

Reading the book helps remind us as people who work with children that we should be developing curiosity rather than extracting it from young people as they move through our school systems.

The book also reminded me of a quote from Jesse Schell and what he has often described as the 'curiosity gap'. 


“Curiosity is not something we talk about in schools, but it is more important now than it has been in the whole of human history.

It used to be that a curious child would learn something. Now all of human knowledge is available at the touch of a button, which gives curious children a serious advantage. Anything they would like to learn about or do, they can find out about in an instant. So what does that mean for children who are not curious? They are going to be left far behind, creating what is known as the “curiosity gap”.

I am not sure that we really know if children are born more curious or less curious, or whether there are things we can do to encourage and enhance their curiosity. Perhaps the most important thing we can do in the field of education is figure out whether we can make children more curious.”


Overall 'Can computers keep secrets? How a Six-Year-Old's Curiosity Could Change the World' is a great bit of work and a thought piece that will stand the test of time – I’m also sure that we will see a few more titles from Ewan and his NoTosh Team in the coming months and years.

But for now, ‘well done Tom, its fab!’ - I even read it agian on the plane home!

(Banner Photo: Source)