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John Green launches Crash Course: Navigating Digital Information

On behalf of my library/educator colleagues, thank you, John Green.

Thank you, John, for offering us a new tool in introducing media literacy and credibility awareness with our learning communities. Thank you for lending your honest voice and passion to this mission.

John recently introduced a new 10-episode Crash Course series, Navigating Digital Information, developed in partnership with MediaWise–a project of the Poynter Institute, funded by Google, with curriculum developed by the Stanford History Education Group who gave us several important research projects, including the well-known study, Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning, with its bleak wake-up call.

In the introduction, John discusses the importance of how the quality of the information we meet online shapes our understanding of the universe and our place in that universe.

as we allow ourselves to fall into the vast endlessness of passive scrolling, we allow the information we ingest, and the algorithms feeding us that information, to shape who we are as people–to shape how we think, what we value, whom we trust, and what we do.  Much attention has rightly been paid to the ways that misinformation and disinformation are shaping our political and social discourse, but they are also shaping us–as individuals and as communities. Getting better at evaluating information means becoming a better citizen of the communities where you live; it also means become a better informed and more engaged person.

In the second episode, The Facts about Fact Checking: Crash Course Navigating Digital Information, John Green takes us to fact-checking school, sharing the importance of interrogating the information we discover online, encouraging us to work out our information analyzing muscles because,

better information leads to better decision-making, which leads to a better world.

He suggests three questions:

  • Screen Shot 2019-01-17 at 9.35.24 AMWho is behind the information?
  • Why are they sharing the information?
  • What types of claims are being made? Are those claims backed up by reliable evidence and what do others say about the claims?

Using a Thought Bubble example of a tweet advocating for steel straws, John demonstrates the need to have discussions with real data, to engage in cost-benefit analysis, and he shares the importance of understanding the fine line between being skepticism and cynicism.  John also explores echo chambers and filter bubbles. Using a personal, real-life hypothetical sports example about a horrible football club, he shows how your inner skeptic might speak up mostly when you see information that seems like it must be wrong to you because it does not align with your pre-existing worldview.


Here’s the plan for the full 10-episode series:Screen Shot 2019-01-17 at 10.45.48 AM

Find more information about Crash Course:

You may also be interested in using the excellent curricular resources shared by SHEG

Joyce Valenza 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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