Experiential Learning Toolkit

Would you like some ideas on how to provide our students with effective experiential learning opportunities?  Niagara College has launched an open access Experiential Learning Toolkit  intended to support faculty, staff, and administrators in designing, implementing and evaluating quality experiential learning activities, such as field placements, co-ops, and service learning.

The online toolkit consists of 16 learning modules, tailored for either educational institutions or businesses and community organizations. The modules walk participants through the process of designing, delivering, and evaluating experiential learning programs to help ensure students receive the right skills, experiences, and supports, both from their school and from the business or organization hosting them.

Explore the Experiential Learning Toolkit here: https://www.eltoolkit.ca/

Rethinking the C.R.A.A.P. Test

Based on the concerns of some recent studies challenging the effectiveness of using the C.R.A.P. test to detect “fake news”,  perhaps we should consider replacing it with the  “four moves” of fact-checking and source verification suggested by Michael Caulfield in his eTextbook Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers These quick and directed moves provide a technique to solve simple scenarios quickly and more complex scenarios in a reasonable amount of time. The four moves he suggests are:

  • Check for previous work. Most stories you see on the web have been either covered, verified, or debunked by more reputable sources. Find a reputable source that has done your work for you. If you can find that, maybe your work is done.
  • Go upstream to the source. If you can’t find a rock-solid source that has done your verification and context-building for you, follow the story or claim you are looking at to it’s origin. Most stories shared with you on the web are recoverage of some other reporting or research. Follow the links and get to the source. If you recognize the source as credible, your work may be done.
  • Read laterally. If you have traced the claim or story or research to the source and you don’t recognize it, you will need check the credibility of the source by looking at available information on its reliability, expertise, and agenda.
  • Circle back. A reminder that even when we follow this process sometimes we find ourselves going down dead ends. If a certain route of inquiry is not panning out, try going back to the beginning with what you know now. Choose different search terms and try again.

The author of the technique, Mike Caulfield,  provides some examples of how this technique might work:

Say you see a story that says that Jennifer Lawrence has died:


Well, has she died?

The ESCAPE method, like the RADCAB and CRAAP methods before it ask you to look at the evidence, think about the source, consider the context, audience, purpose, tone, grammar, style and so forth to figure out whether this is reliable.

The four moves, on the other hand, proposes to answer simple questions first. If Jennifer Lawrence has died, there should be wall to wall coverage of that, right? So check for previous work, and look to see if reliable outlets are covering this. If she is dead, they will be. If she is not, they won’t. Lo and behold, if we type [[Jennifer Lawrence dead]] into Google News we don’t find any stories about her dying:


That’s done in five seconds. But of course not all questions are that easy. Consider the following image found floating around Pinterest:


A short search of Google News doesn’t show any relevant coverage of the study. So let’s go to the next level and see if we can find the source.

There’s a link typed on the image, but rather than deal with that we do a Google Search and immediately hit the jackpot, immediately seeing a Google result on the issue that comes from Harvard.


We can go to that page and find the study is more nuanced than what is presented in the image (and also that there is no race data in the study — the image here is purely an attempt to use the trope of the “angry black women” to get more clicks).

Consider the difference had we spent time looking at the provider of the image for bias, tone, evidence, purpose and the like (a futile process we call “fact-checking the mailman”). By following the moves we quickly get to the most authoritative source for the fact and work from there, in the original context.

Finally, if we don’t trust the original source, or have never heard of it, we can “read laterally” (a term borrowed from Wineburg’s group) and find out more about the organization or publisher. Here we do a quick read on the source of the above study:

public health.PNG

We find that the URL is correct and that the school is considered a leading school of public health in the United States.

These are just a couple of the most simple examples. As you will see in the text of Cauldfield’s text book Web Literacy for Fact-Checkers, the “four moves” technique can be used in more complex scenarios as well.  I hope you take the opportunity to explore both the textbook and Hapgood,  Mike Cauldfield’s activities blog  to help empower our students to make the fast and accurate assessments our current information environment requires.

Any other ideas?

International Fact-Checking Day

This month we celebrated International Fact-Checking Day on April 2nd, but there is still time to benefit from all the wonderful online activities they offer on their website. 

Students might enjoy playing Fact-Check It!  a role-playing card game that stimulates critical thinking, fact-based dialogue and analytical skills. It takes place in the fictional country of Agritania, where the debate over an upcoming referendum to ban GMOs has been consumed by fake news and dubious claims. Students will operate in the newsroom of the Agritania Today and have to verify 25 different news items in order to inform the editorials that will come out on the day of the vote.

The  website also provides tip sheets, lesson plans, a reading list for everyday media consumers, an interactive quiz and more.


Tips and Strategies for Evaluating Fake News

Are you looking for some new information literacy assignment and activity ideas for the new semester?    Project CORA is an excellent open-access resource for Information Literacy lesson plans, handouts and activities.

Of timely interest might be Keepin’ It Real: Tips and Strategies for Evaluating Fake News.  It contains materials used at a Loyola Marymount  University workshop designed to help  students became more confident in their ability to use critical thinking skills to judge the reliability of news reports, whether they come via print, television or the internet.

We’ve placed a link to these materials on the Additional Resources page of our Library’s Fake News Research Guide.