This 3.5-hour strategy challenges students to increase their information literacy by identifying and analyzing a piece of viral misinformation using online news literacy and fact-checking websites. Students choose an example of misinformation and analyze its features, appeals, and distribution. They report their analysis using Adobe Spark Page before moving on to the “Information Matters II” strategy.
Adobe Spark Page allows even new users to create compelling and engaging web pages. For access to more robust print and digital publication design tools, students might choose to complete this strategy using Adobe InDesign.
Students explore what news misinformation is and how it spreads online. They read two short articles from Stanford University and Scientific American and watch a brief video about misinformation and social media. (60 minutes)
Students use resources from The Sift, a newsletter from the News Literacy Project, to identify a recent example of viral misinformation. (30 minutes)
Using resources from The Sift and their knowledge from Step 1, students analyze why and how their identified piece of misinformation spread. (60 minutes)
Students share their Spark Pages with peers or others as directed.
With widespread access to the internet and social media, we have more access to information than ever before. But, not all information is accurate. Sometimes, deciding what information to trust can feel like an overwhelming task. This 3.5-hour strategy will help you to identify and analyze an example of misinformation online. You’ll report your analysis for an audience of peers and others using Adobe Spark Page.
Adobe Spark Page allows for the easy creation of template-based websites. If you are interested in more customization for web or print-based publications, you could also complete this strategy using Adobe InDesign.
1. Most people have encountered many examples of misinformation online, through social media or other sources. Sometimes misinformation may seem fairly easy to identify, but other times even experts have to do additional research to identify and correct misinformation. Why does misinformation spread so easily online? Why are so many people willing to believe and share misinformation? How can we identify misinformation and share credible information?
To help us begin answering these questions, we’ll explore a few helpful sources. Watch/read the sources below, using this worksheet to record the main ideas and any key pointers for identifying misinformation.
Watching this brief video, “Endless Curiosity: The Science of Fake News” from Indiana University.
Read “Biases Make People More Vulnerable to Misinformation Spread by Social Media” from Scientific American and The Conversation.
Read the short article, “How Fake News Spreads Like a Real Virus” from Stanford University.
What did you learn from each source that can help you better spot misinformation? Record your reflections on the worksheet. (60 minutes)
2. Many websites exist to help identify and correct examples of online misinformation. One organization, the News Literacy Project, works to help educators, journalists, and members of the general public to both identify and understand instances of misinformation and how it spreads.
During the school year, the News Literacy Project publishes a weekly newsletter, geared toward educators, called The Sift, which covers notable instances of online misinformation during the previous week.
Explore some recent editions of The Sift. Select one recent example of misinformation to analyze in Step 3. Read through the articles and other resources The Sift includes about your chosen example.
3. Analyze your chosen example of misinformation to better understand how and why it spread. Use credible sources of information, as well as what you learned about misinformation in Step 1, to help you with your analysis. Consider the following in your analysis (take notes to help you present your analysis in Step 4): (60 minutes)
What is the topic of the example?
What is the purpose of the example?
What kinds of readers might find the misinformation appealing? What motivates this audience to believe the misinformation being shared?
Can you identify instances of bias or a specific perspective in the example?
What strategies does the misinformation use to make the false information seem possible, believable, or acceptable?
What valid sources can help audiences better understand the example, how it’s inaccurate, and what the true information might be? Identify at least three credible sources to correct the misinformation.
4. Create an Adobe Spark Page to share your analysis of the example you chose. Include links or images both of the original misinformation and to any credible sources you include to correct the misinformation.
Include the following headings in your Spark Page, aiming for roughly 150-200 words (plus any images and links) per section:
Identifying Misinformation (include the topic and purpose of your example here).
Audience & Perspective (include your analysis of the audience and bias/perspective).
Strategies & Tactics (include your analysis of the strategies used to make the misinformation seem possible or true).
Fact Checking Tips (include your analysis of the resources or strategies that can help audiences locate and understand accurate information regarding this example; if you have not yet included the three sources of correct information, include them here).
Be sure to review the rubric for more information about how your analysis will be assessed. (60 minutes)
5. Share your Adobe Spark Page with your instructor and others as assigned. You’ll use the content of your analysis from this strategy to educate other audiences in the “Information Matters II” strategy. (5 minutes)
Consult the attached rubric to evaluate students' pages.