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News literacy tools: Advice, four sites and a new app (Swiipe)
One of the reasons our students find and use news that is less than credible is that their news habits are less than energetic.
Among the ten key trends Pew researchers gathered from among their research reports on social and news media were:
- Use of mobile devices for news continues to grow.
- Two-thirds of Americans (67%) get at least some news on social media.
- Social media and direct visits to news organizations’ websites are the most common pathways to online news.
- Online news that comes via emails and texts from friends or family is the type of news encounter most likely to result in a follow-up action.
So, let’s work with the data to improve access, quality, and literacy.
I don’t think it’s hard for us to work with K12 students to develop habits that allow them to more easily discover news and to develop habits that may be just a little smarter than those of the average bear.
The easiest way to address the issues is to ensure that the news they find on their mobile devices or desktops is rich and varied.
1. Curate: When I worked in the high school, my LibGuides pointed to news sources from all over the world, from all media–print, broadcast, digital, database, social media–and from western and non-Western sources.
I worked with my students to set up alerts in Google and for the database searches that most interested them and I shared how they might set up and leverage the power of RSS readers like Feedly and Feedster available for desktop and as apps.
You could also curate, of course, with a tool like the New Google Sites, that now allows for easier embedding of widgets and feeds.
But, how did I find these resources and feeds to subscribe to and embed?
I made some of my best discoveries exploiting the news and current event resources gathered by other librarians in the very searchable LibGuide Community.
I exploited news portals like:
Newseum: The interactive Washington, DC museum, is dedicated to the First Amendment. One of its many services is its daily curation of 2000 global newspaper Today’s Front Pages, available in Gallery, List, or Map views. Users are also able to browse a rich archive for dates of historical significance.
- Headline Spot: A part of the StartSpotNetwork, the Headline Spot portal offers easy access to thousands of U.S. and international news resources as well as few good resources for teachers.
The About page shares:
We believe that you can only get the full story by consulting multiple sources. We hope our outstanding collection of hand-selected sources will offer you a stronger, more satisfying and more reliable understanding of the news than any single source. Our goal is to send you to the strongest media for a subject, industry or region in the least amount of time so that you can spend less time searching for the news and more time making sense of it.
This has been a go-to spot for me for years. Take a look at just some of the news goodies listed:
The Paperboy: What began as a hobby for Ian in November 1997, has turned into a huge and hugely useful portal linking us (and creating side-by-side comparisons) to major news outlets’ Twitter feeds, as well as a Clickable Map of World Newspapers by City, Top 10 US Newspapers, Top 100 US Newspapers List by Circulation, Top 100 Newspapers Listed by State and World Newspapers Listed by Country and images/previews of those World Newspapers’ Front Pages. The Paperboy also offers an Android App and is offered as a Mobile version.
Allsides: I blogged about Allsides several months ago. The site functions as a search tool and a filter bubble burster, curating and identifying perspective in news stories. The Allsides Balanced Search box is well-worth including on your websites and Guides.
2. Help learners curate: What is your own go-to site for curation? For me, it’s LibGuides and Pearltrees these days. In around 15 minutes, I was able to pull together this Pearltrees curation that I imagine might be easily personalized by kiddos using most any curation platform. In some ways this approach is more attractive than the traditional (often crowded and texty) RSS feed reader.
3. Push a few good apps: Wouldn’t it be great if your students checked their phones to discover news from multiple sources, media, and places based on their own selections? I mentioned a few apps offered by the websites above AND you are going to want to investigate and introduce this one:
Swiipe: News That Knows You: This Tinder-inspired approach to global news
was created by Alex Goodison, an Irish teen who built the app during a summer vacation. Users chose from among 60 sources in a variety of categories to discover news from around the world and to develop a personalized feed. Swiipe left to delete a story, right to read, save, share. A new feature alerts users of trending news from the past 48 hours.
Of course, there’s the danger of the user honing his or her feed so precisely that they develop a little Swiipe filter bubble. Alas, that is fodder for yet another conversation.
Pew Research Center. “
About Joyce Valenza
Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza
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