ARLINGTON, Feb 6 — A high school classroom in the era of fake news.
At this Arlington, Virginia school, 12th grade students are learning how to identify false information.
Their teacher, Patricia Hunt, has taught students to be savvy news consumers for 25 years.
But the rapid spread of fake news during the 2016 elections highlighted a very real problem.
“The democratisation of the news — there’s the news sources or so-called news sources are so prevalent that hundreds and hundreds of Web sites that claim to be news students today are not consuming the media like I did,” Hunt said.
With the help of a popular digital curriculum called Checkology, Hunt draws on examples from current news affairs, social media and TV shows teaching students to look for telltale signs of a false story.
Checkology creator Alan Miller has been teaching media literacy skills since 2009 through his non-profit, the News Literacy Project.
After the elections he saw a huge spike in interest in his work, more than 11,000 educators in US alone have now registered to use Checkology since its launch in 2016.
“The fact is you know this is the equivalent of a public health crisis and it’s been brewing more beneath the surface for a long time now. But it’s the technology, the profound technological changes and the way that people you know the access they have to information and the challenge of sorting the informational wheat from the chaff, that have really made this such an urgent matter,” Miller said.
Hunt’s students agree.
“If somebody that’s ignorant of the facts that’s going on in the world right now can become really fearful, then that stops them from going out and speaking up for themselves and their community,” student Salvador Posas said.
The drive to introduce media literacy into classrooms across the United States has gained more traction in the past year, with at least 11 states, including Massachusetts, California and New York introducing or considering legislation to change the school curriculum — as the fight against fake news enters the digital age. — Reuters