War, against false news in the classroom: the role of the school

A few weeks after the outbreak of war in Ukraine, Italy – like the whole of the West – becomes one continuous flow of news and information which come from different channels and in different forms: besides Newspaper articles we can access directly tweet, Statements of political figures, we can see Amateur Videos shot or read from the windows of houses in besieged cities i live stories from temporary shelter and subway.

This information flow reverses the normal novelty access mechanism: it is not we – or Italian students in particular – who are searching for the latest news, but those who are accessing our devices and computers.

They appear on social media, and Tiktok videos are shared and commented on by people we know.

At this point, a number of questions arise, at different levels: Is the ability to analyze and verify news a skill that a citizen of a modern state must master? A wann jo, it is the responsibility of the school education systems to develop these skills, and what (realistic and practical) goals should the school set itself? Finally, if we wanted to talk about warfare and information in the classroom, what tools can we use, what topics should be addressed immediately?

War and information disruptions

The term “Information disorder“It has never been more appropriate: on the one hand, it is now known that during a conflict works of Disinformation and of Propaganda stirring public opinion, creating insecurity, weakening the antagonistic front and strengthening internally. On the other hand, this uninterrupted flow of content de Feel free to access more complete information and on your finger. And it does not matter if someone makes the mistake of posting a photo of a past conflict that points to the current one, or sharing a propaganda meme without knowing what is behind it.

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The information that comes out of the web is almost never neutral: it brings knowledge, but also hides implicit messages. The flow is not random, and requires attention and preparation to manage it properly without being manipulated.

Guerra, the central role of TikTok for information and fake news

The case of Finland

It just happens there Finlandwhich shares a border of 1340 km with Russia and became “only” independent in 1917, should be considered as a reference point for the critical analysis of information, online and elsewhere.

The fight against false news is not a generic practice that was born in the last twenty years with the spread of the internet, but is being essential competence so that every citizen can defend himself before the disinformation machine, in this Russian case.

Finland offers another argument for the importance of these critical digital content analytics capabilities: anyone, in the first person, can become a victim of the mechanisms of manipulation and falsification of information on the netand therefore one must recognize, prevent or intervene accordingly.

A special case is that of the journalist and blogger Jessikka Aro. Following the publication of a book on the mechanisms of Russian propaganda, she was immediately struck by a “mud machine”. The criticisms he received from an army of undercover trolls were not about the book, but about his own private love: insinuates and spreads false news about the fact that he used drugs, that he had secret relationships. Once again: his private information was disseminated online with Address and telephone number and associated with events and situations that never happened to infamous his image.

Critical information analysis is part of Finnish school curricula in each order and completion of 2016. Each subject is included: for example, during the maths course you take part in data analysis courses, in computer science you check the metadata of images on the net, in history you study the big “fake news” . And its sociological and psychological characteristics are analyzed.

The digital skills of students in the European Union and in Italy

Within the European Union too, the focus on digital skills is constant.

The Digital Education Action Plan for the period 2021-2027, it represents the most recent initiative, and aims to gather experience and lessons learned during the distance learning initiatives of the last two years, to promote a general adaptation of education systems by adapting to digital. Do Ratio is that it can be a ‘healthy’ digital use, everyday and aims to allow for the development of skills that would otherwise remain an activity outside of normal school life.

For specific digital capabilities, depending on an update update, we can rely on DIGICOMP 2.1and addressed the five areas, namely information and data literacy, communication and collaboration, digital content creation, security, problem solving.

But in addition to the theoretical framework, the school currently needs pragmatic answers: even if it does not want to be Finland, how do we connect digital literacy with school? How do you put it between a Greek translation and an analysis of the costs to the economy, between the hour of civic education and an intervention to prevent cyberbullying? How should it be set up, and with what objectives? Because if it is true that one can generally speak of “digital skills”, these skills also require a lot of knowledge, which then also requires committed places and times, education … For example, it should be detailed what these skills and knowledge are to be expected Get out of school: what should Italian students be able to do with digital after graduation? Do you have a method for a proper evaluation of sources? Identify the metadata of a photo? Know how to distinguish a BOT?

Talk about war and information in the classroom

The need to throw information of war theater is shared with other school systems in other countries. Do informative nutrition of adolescents and young people do not just pass through official information channels, and so it is important in the classroom to think about the use that nations of social entertainment channels make to find some, first, strategies.

We visit you Positions of the major social multinationals, and the tools they provide, such as the dedicated channel of Twitter, a stream on which information is posted only by verified accounts. From the river it is then possible to trace the various newspapers and accounts of the correspondents present in Ukraine.

A second interesting work is the analysis of real messages but manipulators come from the politicians concerned: Why is the statement of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov appalling? What is the implicit message it contains? And who are targeting the tweets of Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymir Zelenski, and what goals do they want to pursue?

Still in the manipulation of the right information, an interesting activity is the analysis of newspaper headlines, to identify the rhetorical formulas used and the appeal to the feeling. What is the difference, for example, between titles like “They are also bombing the children’s hospital“, or”Bombs on the children of Europe“,”Bombs on Children“,”Blind Mann buff“,”Bombs on sick children“, or”Bombed Children’s Hospital in Mariupol“(All headlines refer to the March 9, 2022 bombings)?

You can then work on the ability to evaluate sources. A first step is to use it properly Image Analysis Tools provided by Google, a very useful practice for verifying the origin of a photo and the use made on the web.

Read page

Some suggestions come to us from abroad. From one Research presented in January 2022 by the University of Standford we receive some suggestions for new strategies, in particular regarding the use of Read page. The research compares the online research methodologies of some groups of people with different backgrounds. One has emerged Difference in approach among those who are accustomed to paper, who use the same vertical reading method online (from beginning to end of an article) and who make more mistakes, and those who are more accustomed to the mechanics of the web, prefer to read a few lines before Open windows and links that allow you to go back to the source or find links to other fonts.

To stimulate lateral reading, a project is online, Civic Online Rationalewith free materials for educators and coaches useful for class work.

A second interesting project is Student Viewwhose emphasis is precisely on Illiteracy media, or rather the illiteracy of the media and their messages. In this case, the project envisages the creation of a journalistic editorial office in each class, thus capable of generating validated and reliable content.

The analysis of the sources

One last tip is to do not put strategies and tools on the page of more complexity than the known CRAAP TEST, useful not only for the analysis of web sources, but also for the verification and screening of sources for school research and university essays. All practices to encourage the creation of a critical mind, ready to ask oneself, of any content encountered on the web, including references, author, date of publication, etc.

Note

March 31, 2022 – 12:00 p.m.

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