Edit WCNA 2021 Session Submission: Submissions:2021/Expert fact-checkers rely on Wikipedia. You and your students should too!
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Expert fact-checkers rely on Wikipedia. You and your students should too!
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In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, students and faculty alike are also grappling with an "infodemic." The World Health Organization defines an "infodemic" as “an overabundance of information—some accurate and some not—that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it” ([https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200202-sitrep-13-ncov-v3.pd World Health Organization, 2020]). Social media platforms and fact-checking organizations are also struggling to keep up with vetting information about the pandemic ([https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/08/technology/coronavirus-misinformation-social-media.html Frenkel et al., 2020]; [https://www.washingtonpost.com/media/2020/04/15/coronavirus-misinformation-snopes/ Izadi, 2020]). In the context of the "infodemic," it is critical to teach our students strategies for deciding whether online information can be trusted. Using Wikipedia to check the potential agenda or biases of a source can help students quickly determine if that source is trustworthy. This approach is both more efficient and effective than scrutinizing the original information for clues about its credibility. In fact, professional fact-checkers often turn to Wikipedia as a starting point to investigate sources ([https://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentId=22806 Wineburg & McGrew, 2019]). Our institution, the College of Staten Island, CUNY, is one of 11 institutions participating in the [https://www.aascu.org/AcademicAffairs/ADP/DigiPo/ Digital Polarization Initiative], sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. We have partnered with instructors of the college's civics course to teach first-year college students how to read laterally when vetting online information. Lateral reading involves leaving a website to investigate the people and organizations promoting the online content, finding out what other sources have to say about it, and tracing the content back to its original source. Using Wikipedia to investigate sources may be counter to what many students were taught prior to college or in other college classes. However, students are receptive to using Wikipedia to investigate sources and improve in both their ability and confidence to read laterally ([https://cognitiveresearchjournal.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s41235-021-00291-4 Brodsky et al., 2021a], [https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/23328584211038937 2021b]). In this workshop, we will share findings from the Digital Polarization Initiative and help you build activities for your own courses that teach students to use Wikipedia when fact-checking online information.
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