Helping your students navigate the “post-truth” era

Published by Nikki Medanovic on

Living in what some people claim to be a “post-truth” era, more of us now can get news from sites that would not be considered “legacy media”, like well-known newspapers and broadcasters. For those growing up in this era, learning to determine what news is real and trustworthy will be essential. In schools, teachers can implement activities or give strategies to students on how to best identify whether what they’re reading is trustworthy.

1. Suggest Lateral Reading

When your students are reading a source online, you can tell them to find more information on the source. They should also fact-check any claims in the source as they are reading it – a reading technique called lateral reading. When reading a piece of news, readers should check the source and ask themselves questions such as:

  • Who is behind the funding of the source?
  • Is this source well-educated on the topic?
  • Is the source cited beyond this website?

While doing research their initial research, students should go beyond just looking at the “About Us” page on the website; they should research the credentials of the author, find other works by the source, and see if others have cited the source.  Once they have determined the source can be trusted, they should now fact-check the claims in the article as they find them. In a new tab in their internet browser, students should fact check claims with sources they know to be reputable.

2. Interactive Media Chart

Vanessa Otero is the creator of the Media Bias Chart

Using this chart, students can mark which media they regard as biased, ranging from hyper liberal to hyper conservative. While this activity does not necessarily bring them to understand how to distinguish between disinformation and real information, it does allow them to look at sources with a critical lens and maybe seek out additional sources.

3. Fun games to give discernment skills

There are fun ways to give your students practice in identifying dis and misinformation. Go Viral! Stopping COVID-19 disinformation is a free online resource that shows students how fake news spreads through social media. Students go through examples of social media posts that can promote COVID disinformation on different “levels”. Through this, they can see how fast disinformation can spread and how to point out its key characteristics.

Factitious is another COVID-19 misinformation game where students go through news articles and must find out whether it is real or fake.

Participants in our Schools Tackling Disinformation MOOC learned these tips to figure out whether a piece of news is real or not. You can also give your students these tips when incorporating these games in your classroom:

  1. Is the title neutral or click-bait?
  2. Who is the author?
  3. What is the date?
  4. Who published the news
  5. To find out the rest of them, click below to join our Schools Tackling Disinformation MOOC!

Schools Tackling Disinformation

This course gives educators ways to teach mis- and disinformation in their classroom; equipping their students to be able to tell real from fake news. Starts Monday 14 March 2022.

How are you going to make your students familiar with the concept of disinformation? Let us know in the comments below!

Categories: Resources


Nikki Medanovic

Nikki is a Communications Intern with European Schoolnet Academy.