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For years, teacher librarians have been teaching students not just how to run online searches but how important it is to authenticate information found.

But over the last 12-18 months with the preponderance of ‘fake news’ popping up not just on the internet but in usually reliable print publications such as newspapers and journals, the impact ‘fake news’ has had on our world has been the subject of much discussion around the globe.

So it is refreshing to see that the conversation has now started to shift from how dangerous fake news is to how to spot and combat fake news.

Perhaps under threat from mega million law suits, Facebook has been one of the first to take a lead by informing users of some basic tips on how to spot false news.

For a few brief days in mid April this year, Facebook users in just 14 countries got to see this alert:

from where they could read through the following concise and useful tips on how to spot false news:

Why only 14 countries were included in this roll out and why the alert was only live for a few days is a complete mystery.  Given the value this kind of shared information can have in the fight against the spread of misleading and false information, one can only hope that Facebook was testing the ground and will come back to making this a permanent alert available to global Facebook users.

As reported by engadget recently, Google also is attempting to stamp out the spread of fake news by inserting a ‘Fact check by’ tag on searches on contentious issues.

Another interesting development this week is the announcement by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

WikiTRIBUNE is being developed as a new kind of news platform.  By calling on the community to work hand-in-hand with journalists, the aim is to verify and edit facts before they appear online.  Using crowdfunding to hire 14 journalists, it is intended that WikiTRIBUNE, like Wikipedia, will be free to access.

WikiTRIBUNE is set to differ from other news outlets in four specific ways:

  • the news source will be clearly stated
  • access to WikiTRIBUNE will be free and ad free
  • contributors from both the community and journalists will be equals
  • to achieve full transparency donors will be informed where money goes

Read more about the purpose and nature of WikiTRIBUNE in this excellent engadget article Wikipedia co-founder launches Wikitribune to fight fake news or listen to Jimmy Wales himself as he invites the world to come on board.

 

Even though this is an ad published late last year for the new MacBook Pro, the video encapsulates some of the most revolutionary ideas that have been developed by man.

Quite literally

Ideas push the world forward!”

 

Stephen King’s writing is legendary.

His books, of which there are more than 50, have sold more than 350 million copies worldwide.  Many of them have been adapted into movies, TV shows and comic books.  In addition to his novels, he has written more than 200 short stories.

While reading the genre of horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, science fiction and fantasy may rule him out as being your favourite kind of author, it is not many writers who have had such an impact on the world of literature or written as prolifically.

So having the opportunity to listen to Stephen King’s thoughts in a short radio interview late last year, I was surprised to find that his words resonated strongly with me.  Most particularly when he said

We forget what it is to be a child.”

my ears pricked up.  Why is it, King questions, that adults forget how to look at the world through the eyes of a child.

His thoughts remind me of the words of that well known educator, Sir Ken Robinson, who in videos such as Do schools kill creativity? also laments the fact that children lose their creativity as they work their way from pre-school through to the end of high school.

Have a listen to this short interview and in the process be spellbound by the incredible drawings that accompany the interview.

I came across this video a little while ago.

It’s one of those videos which makes you appreciate how easy it is to impart knowledge in the most simple of ways.  For teachers we refer to it as our

bag of tricks!

Once you’ve been in teaching for a little while, knowing how to present to students so that they really ‘get’ the point of the lesson really becomes second nature.

Teaching becomes so routine, that sometimes, we even forget that we have these skills ‘up our sleeve’!

What am I talking about?  Simple teaching skills such as

  • Gaining attention by breaking with routine.
  • Using silence for optimum results.
  • Ensuring words of instruction are minimized.
  • Engaging with students at their level.
  • Asking pointed question to stimulate thought.
  • Utilizing student knowledge to highlight information being shared.
  • Injecting humour into the lesson.
  • Incorporating physical objects to illustrate a point.
  • Exploring alternate teaching styles.
  • Allowing students to draw conclusions.

The lesson being imparted in this video is valuable for us all.  The point of the lesson is made clearly and strongly.

I love it when I find confirmation of what I truly believe!

We’re never too old to learn!

Late last year a news article reported on research confirming that those over 50 have the ability to adapt to new jobs and their technology demands.

The survey of 5973 Australians aged 18 and over, conducted by Lonergan Research on behalf of insurance company Apia, found 77 per cent of people over 50 believe their creativity levels increase or stay the same with age.

The study found more than half (56 per cent) of people over 50 believe they can keep up with the latest trends in technology until at least the age of 80 …..”

80% of the third of Australians over the age of 50 are Baby Boomers, with the vast majority being technology literate and keen to learn and adjust to accommodate our rapidly changing world.  For so many, staying in contact with family and friends overseas via email, sharing photos online are a given.  So too are online shopping, banking and holiday planning.

Yet sadly, this article highlights the very real issue of age discrimination as demonstrated by employers who have a  reluctance to invest time retraining those who may have a limited number of years left in the labour market.  In short, this is a terrible loss for both prospective employers and employees, for business and for society as a whole.

Overcoming the stereotype that older workers take longer to learn new skills and are less technology savvy is a challenge that needs to be tackled.

A poke around the Australian Human Rights Commission: Age Discrimination website makes for some interesting reading as does an easy to read pdf titled: Willing to Work: National Inquiry into Employment Discrimination Against Older Australians and Australians with Disability which summaries the findings of a report undertaken by the Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner.  Some of the conclusions reported upon can be read in the Commissioner’s foreward

The Inquiry found that too many people are shut out of work because of underlying assumptions, stereotypes or myths associated with their age or their disability. These beliefs lead to discriminatory behaviours during recruitment, in the workplace and in decisions about training, promotion and retirement, voluntary and involuntary. The cost and impact of this is high, for individuals and for our economy.

People who are willing to work but are denied the opportunity are also denied the personal and social benefits—of dignity, independence, a sense of purpose and the social connectedness—that work brings.

Discrimination has an impact on the health of individuals, their career and job opportunities, their financial situation and their families……

It also has consequences for workplaces. These include higher absenteeism, lower or lost productivity, higher staff turnover and increased recruitment costs, as well as lost business opportunities from abandoning experience and corporate knowledge…..”

It is because I constantly see the skills, talents and capabilities of older workers on a day-to-day basis that I find I am passionate about the need for society to recognize the value that older employees have to contribute to the work force. My passionate belief in the value of ongoing lifelong learning supports this stand.

Throughout my career, as I’ve stepped from job to job, I’ve found myself appreciating anew the power of the multigenerational staff with whom I work.  Indeed, as I penned some time ago: Older teachers rock!

Young employees have an unabashed enthusiasm for their work and a keenness to learn and experiment while older employees have a wealth of experience and foresight and a willingness to share and mentor.

The blend of the two is powerful beyond words!

Fall Forward!

I came across this commencement speech given by Denzel Washington at University of Pennsylvania back in 2011.

“Fall forward.” he says, “Every failed experiment is one step closer to success.”

Indeed, Denzel Washington’s words have a message not just for graduating students, but for all of us.  His words can be applied to all walks of life.  You’ve got to take risks!

Take a few minutes to listen to this edited clip of his speech.  The full speech can be viewed here.

Most students today have never lived in a world without Google.”

A pretty amazing fact – no?

In fact, for most of us, Google search is a regular part of our daily life.  But have you ever considered just how Google search works and how in just ⅛th of a second your search result is generated?

How Search Works gives a fascinating insight into the complex system of algorithms involved in generating the simple page of results received in response to a search request.

how-google-sesarch-works

Fascinating!