Information passes us at a furious pace, in a never-ending flow. Today’s youth grow up in a digital world, finding most of their news, facts and entertainment online. This accessibility of information is positive. But the ease of publishing—the ability of anyone to post almost anything, for any reason—makes it all the more important to adopt a critical approach. We know we can’t always trust the accuracy of the information we find online—that’s why source criticism is so important. Here issome advice on how to make source criticism easy, engaging, and exciting for your students.
Why source criticism is important
We need to understand why we should be critical and questioning when we search for information online. Every individual is responsible for protecting him- or herself from false and misleading information, and it is valid to ask: “Should I believe this article?” and “Are the claims my friend has made on Facebook true?”. A lack of source criticism can leave readers and viewers misinformed, leading them to draw incorrect conclusions and make faulty decisions based on flawed data.
How to make source criticism exciting and engaging
Source criticism is on the agenda today in many classrooms. Students are encouraged to develop a critical approach as they learn to navigate today's digital media landscape. Without source criticism, the risk of being misinformed, with all of negative consequences that implies, is ever-present. The challenge for educators is to find ways to make source criticism exciting and engaging so that it becomes a practical tool in students’ everyday lives, rather than a topic that passes by in a single lesson.
3 ways to create engagement
- Introduce source criticism with real-world examples
- Apply source criticism on everyday problems
- Make it a natural part of your teaching
Source criticism for Internet publishing
Today, anyone can publish anything on the internet. This has had many positive effects on freedom of expression and, by extension, democracy. But it has also had profoundly negative impacts, since the editorial filter provided by professional journalists sifting through the facts is gone. Therefore, it is more important than ever to review sources critically. Since it isn’t possible to review all claims posted on social media, it’s even more important to identify trustworthy information sources, which can then be used to fact-check news items that pop up. Alternatively, a quick Google search before sharing could help identify sources that support or disprove the claim.
Practical exercises for teaching source criticism
Because it is a skill that should be practiced continuously, source criticism is a difficult subject to schedule, and should instead be integrated into teaching. This can be done in various ways, such as always applying a source-critical perspective. Source-criticism is about more than simply questioning sources. It is also about challenging perspectives and recognizing the influence of contemporary perceptions on the interpretation of history.
Investigate an online source with 5 simple questions
Download the checklist
Remember that anyone can publish anything on the Internet. This has had many positive effects on freedom of speech and democracy. But it has also harmed the reliability of online information. It is more important than ever to review sources critically. Our checklist helps you determine whether an online source is trustworthy.