Saturday, May 19, 2018

Food for Thought: How do we know what is real?

Dear all,

This weeks Food for Thought is linked to the disruptive role that social media is having on our lives and will have on the students that we teach. We all know about the issues surrounding fake news and recent elections. I think we are also all aware that algorithms are tracking everything that we do on the internet and creating profiles about us all. You know this from the advertising that appears on your screen whenever you use the world wide web. But the big question is how much further does this go and is it impacting our choices beyond what we are encouraged to consume and how can we as teachers help our students be prepared for their future.

This week I would like to share a podcast, video and a couple of sources that are worth listening, watching and reading  to help us all understand better the world that our students are going to be entering and how by knowing more we can guide our students better when they use social media.

Firstly, here is  a podcast,  Have we lost our sense of reality? from abc net Australia. This discussion involves thought leaders from all over the world who are working in the field of digital cultures. This podcast raises deep questions about how social media and the internet is not only manipulating our consumption patterns but also how we see our world.

"Digital Cultures analyst, Mark Pesce, believes we’ve reached a tipping point: The systems we’ve developed to enhance our lives are now impairing our ability to distinguish between reality and falsity.
Others see echoes of the problem in our obsession with authenticity and a nostalgia for past times that seemed more real.
But are such fears overstated? And can a greater emphasis on the teaching of ethics and critical thinking help lead us out of the shadowlands?"

This 7 minute video comes from PBS World News Report, Why we should be more like cats than dogs when it comes to social media. It goes deeper into the way that we are being manipulated by our social media links.

The interesting dilemma that emerges from this information is that we so often turn to the internet and in particular Google to check facts and the unfortunate truth is that Google could be a major contributor to our problems because it does little to check or prioritize authenticity. This is left up to us and of course our children, so are we doing enough to teach them about the importance of questioning truth on the internet?

So what can we do to help educate our students? This article argues that Schools Shouldn't Trust Google Search Because It Reinforces Racism and encourages schools to ensure more questioning of information by students and where it comes from and why.

"We're at an important moment of K-12 education. These critiques of technology are not a core part of the curriculum.  
K-12 educators can do a tremendous amount to help students understand that mathematical languages can be interpreted and used in different ways, just like other forms of language. 
It's also important for teachers to impress upon students how important it is to have a well-rounded education. What would it be like if we had software engineers who had bachelor's degrees in computer science and women's studies simultaneously?  How much different would that make their work? "
Here is some advice from Common Sense Media that we can use with our students so they better understand how they are being marketed to from an early age.
Marketing to Kids Topic Center

Commercials have been around forever. But with viral marketing, data tracking, product placements, and other promotional tricks, today's advertising landscape is a whole new ball game. Want to ad-proof your kid? Find out the real impact of advertising, which ages are the most vulnerable, and how to help your kids view ads critically so they'll become savvy consumers

Have a good weekend,



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