The Internet and web technologies have radically transformed the information landscape levelling the ground for everyone to access, produce, and share knowledge anytime, anywhere. The world’s knowledge is just a click away and all you need is a computerized device connected to the Internet and you can browse through piles and piles of user generated data and right from the comfort of your couch. There is, however, a gloomy side to this information revolution. It is the widespread of the culture of amateurism. Having free access to means of knowledge production is one thing and misusing (and sometimes abusing) these means is another thing. What’s the last time you Googled something only to find yourself drowned in a sea of trivial and outright banal content. Content authored by amateurs who think just because they can use a keyboard they can weigh in on any topic out there. In such a data-saturated world, the fine line between information and misinformation is getting alarmingly blurry.
As teachers and educators it behaves us to raise our students critical awareness to this informational dilemma. We need to make sure they are equipped with the required skills to help them navigate and browse the web in a safe and productive way. One way to do this is through enhancing their critical digital search literacy. We have already covered a number of interesting materials in this regard and you can check this resource to discover some practical search tips to share with your students.
However, knowing how to run an effective online search is only the starting point. Students also need to learn how to evaluate the content they find online and this is where critical reading comes into the picture. Critical reading, according to OWLL, is “the process of reading that goes beyond just understanding a text. Critical reading involves: carefully considering and evaluating the reading. identifying the reading’s strengths and implications. identifying the reading’s weaknesses and flaws”. During our work on Media Literacy article we came up with a list based on Mills (1995, p. 199) and Duncan’s (2005) insights comprising a number of questions to guide students critical reading. We embedded these questions into the visual below which you can download for free from this page. Check it out and share with us your feedback in our Facebook page.