Who says it’s the truth?

"For the Google generation, what happens to the concepts of truth and
knowledge in a user-generated world of information saturation?"
Monica Hesse, Washington Post reporter, takes a fascinating look at how we view the truth in an age when information is readily available and abundant.
The discussion of knowledge vs information is also interesting. "Information has replaced knowledge," says author Felipe Fernandez-Arnesto, quoted in the article. He says information is about crumbs of data, while knowledge is knowing what to do with accumulated information. What worries people (teachers, included) is that students are now information gatherers but not critical thinkers.
"That’s the most profound change," said Corbin Lyday, professor at George Washington University about many of his students compared to 30 years ago. "The way they manage information. There’s a growing impatience and a real passivity."
Also, people are too easily convinced that the information is correct and true and "use information to reinforce their own beliefs," Hesse says in the article, listing as an example the 9,000 hits in Google for "The moon landing was staged."
We at FA are also trying to navigate through these muddy waters as we work with our students. But it becomes even harder when we consider that research says, "we believe what we want to believe."

"People are very insensitive to where they hear things," says Norbert Schwarz, a University of Michigan
psychologist who worked on the study. If one quack repeats the same
piece of information to you five times, it’s nearly as effective as
hearing the sound bite from five different reputable sources.

Same goes for reading e-mails — if you get three spam e-mails
relating Abraham Lincoln’s folksy wisdom about truth and dogs, you’ll
eventually believe it as strongly as if you heard it from the reference
desk at the Lincoln Library.

"The basic psychological process is the same" as it’s always been,
Schwarz says. "But in the olden days you might have seen something once
in your newspaper . . . now the likelihood that you’ll see it again and
again and again" — on blogs, in your inbox, on YouTube — has

All of this, of course, reinforces the need for our students to participate in the discussions of their learning. And is makes me realize how complicated teaching has become.

Beginning with Sheryl’s 9 principles for implementation in this shift is an excellent start. As Sheryl says, "it’s not business as usual."

Image: ‘need to know basis

According to Jane

One of the best ways to find new tools is Jane Knight’s site, Jane’s E-Learning Pick of the Day. Today she links to a PDF with the top 100 tools, compiled from readers. Included is a subset of 25 key free tools for learning. Check it out.
One that I hadn’t seen yet is FreeMind, an open source product. Another product I haven’t yet tried is Captivate, an Adobe tool for screen capturing, recording of podcasts, and making quizzes. Not free, of course, but seems robust. Has anyone else used this?

Citing My Sources

As a middle-school English teacher, I always taught my students to cite their sources, give
proper attribution, and never give the impression that someone else’s
idea is your own.
A new wrinkle in this is giving credit to someone in the blogsphere for a tweet on Twitter or a post or comment on a blog.
When I
send out a tweet or write up a post, I try to link to
the original source. But with the avalanche of information coming at me, I find it nearly impossible to track. Plus, current
thinking is that with many people now using Creative Commons licensing,
writing and photos will be used all over the web, mashed, stretched,
re-worked, and re-vamped. I know I’ve found many photos with no
attribution (and I’ve done it, too, when I forget to go back to copy
and paste). If you take the photo from that post, do you give the secondary user
Early this morning, I first saw the story about the student jailed in Egypt using Twitter to reach out for help on a post by Michael Arrington on Tech Crunch, or was it Chris Brogan’s site? I’m not even sure anymore since it also popped up at least 10 times
on different Twitter accounts as first-time tweets and many other blogs
during the day. If I decided to write about it later, I would have had
a difficult time trying to remember where I first saw the reference.
(And I know and remember the old, "if it’s mentioned in five or more
sources, you don’t need to cite it…but go with me here.)
times I see tweets and posts about reviews for videos or applications
I’ve already tried. So if I choose to write about them later, whom do I
credit? Or do I, if I’ve stumbled upon them myself but have also read
someone else’s review? What about referencing comments on a blog? What if the comments have moved to another blog? I’m not talking link love, here. I’m talking old-fashioned, getting the attribution right.
The conversations about how to sustain archives of digital information are also fascinating, given that information may not always be with us in the existing format.
"How do we archive information when the technology to read it, and indeed the information itself, changes so fast?" asks Josh Catone on The Read Write Web.
past few days, I’ve read several posts about giving credit where credit
is due. Some folks want to be recognized for breaking the story first,
even though it’s darn near impossible for anyone to know who said what
first. And what about RSS feed sharing? Who owns the information? Does it matter anymore.
Frankly, the only reason I care is that we’ve been teaching our students the importance of proper attribution forever. When I work with students and teachers, I want to be thoughtful in supporting their research and citing of sources in however they decide to present, publish, write, or digitize. Shouldn’t we all be saying the same thing?
Ah, life was easier when I could pick up a book, grab the information, and follow MLA style.
Even Robert Scoble weighed in on this, saying:
era when bloggers could control where the discussion of their stuff
took place is totally over.This is a trend that the best bloggers
should embrace. Me? I follow wherever the conversation takes me.
As someone else wrote: steal my content please."

anyone is developing new guidelines for their students, I would love to
know. How do you cite Twitter, for example? I couldn’t find anything on
MLA when I looked. Carolyn? Anyone? Do we even bother to cite it?
For all I know, someone has already written this post. I just can’t find it.
Just thinking, here….

Image: ‘At Odds – Day 27

Searching the Boolean way


One of the challenges we face is how to teach students to search well.
Jane Knight posted this interesting new tool, Boolify, which seems ideal for children–and, well, some of us adults, too!
By moving icons, such as "and" "but" and "or" onto the screen, one is able to use search terms to limit those ever-expanding internet searches.
I am definitely going to explore this one.