Objectives - ISTE NETS for Students #3: Research and Information Fluency
"locate and evaluate information from a variety of sources and media"
- apply techniques for finding and checking facts on a Web page
- computers (for hands-on practice or 1 just to demonstrate)
When investigating the credibility of information online, it is usually a good practice to look at the information from three different perspectives. For elementary students, the identity and qualifications of the author and publisher are the most important things to emphasize. At a young age, they learn that people do not always "tell the truth" Believing someone who doesn't tell the truth can lead to trouble.
But just knowing that someone is qualified to be an authority isn't always enough.
In the case of the Flying Penguins, the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) is the publisher. They are a world class, respected news source. But they also like to play an April Fool's joke every year. In 2008 they produced a video with very believable footage of penguins flying north to winter. Just checking the publisher's credentials doesn't make this footage unbelievable. But fact-checking it shows it to be a joke.
Fact-checking is really quite easy, but surprisingly few people (including adults) do it. In this case, searching for the title of the program (flying penguins) returns a number of sites that talk about it being an April Fool's prank.
Here are a few classic cases where fact-checking quickly reveals a problem:
Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus - the scientific name of the octopus is made up, as is the magazine, Cascadia Evening Post. Since the author's / owner's true identity is hard to pin down, fact-checking reveals this is a hoax.
Elect Susie Flynn for President - this 10-yr-olds 2008 presidential campaign was owned by the Children's Defense Fund, a well-respected organization. Fact-checking the name "elect susie flynn" returns a page that describes the faux campaign by the marketing firm that created it.
DHMO - The author is a college professor, so he should know what he's talking about. Except he posted this as a hoax, maybe to teach the value of fact-checking.