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Posts Tagged ‘reporting

Today’s rant is about the irresponsibility of some news rags and the importance of developing critical literacy among our learners.

In his critique of homework, Alfie Kohn ripped into poor and irresponsible reports by newspapers of research articles. I suspect that the reporters were not literate enough in the field of practice they were writing about or their editors had broader agendas to fulfill.

I might say the same of the Straits Times (ST) take on Tata Communications report, Connected World II: Where does the Internet come from?. ST labelled us the “second most Internet-addicted people in the world”.

Singaporeans_are_second_most_Internet-addicted_people_in_the_world__Survey

At no point in the report did Tata suggest Internet addiction. This phrase was not in the summary of findings nor in the research implications.

The Tata report made reference to “our growing reliance on the constant flow of information through digital media”, but that does not imply addiction. We rely on the Internet for information, work, entertainment, and education.

ST was entitled to make their interpretation, of course. But was this justified given the larger context of Tata’s research? Was this ethical given the responsibility of a newspaper to report and inform?

ST did not provide a link to the original report and I had to look for it. If ST wanted to make that claim, why not link to Tata’s study in part to give credit, in part to answer unanswered questions?

ST knows that most people will not question their interpretation of the study or bother to ask even the most superficial questions.

Juicy headlines sell newspapers, never mind if they are accurate or not. And as long as ST does not step on government toes or breach OB markers, they can keep dancing and sailing.

That is why our learners must learn critical information literacy. They must learn not to take anything at face value.

These days doing some research online is not like going the extra mile. It is an extra yard. By working smarter, a learner need only take an extra step that could make a difference in being informed or being misled.

The Straits Times had a report on Coursera, a joint venture by five universities in the USA that will offer courses for free. The original reports was from Reuters.

Here is the ST attempting to provide a balanced perspective by highlighting a disadvantage of the programme:

Here is the Reuters original:

For whatever reason, ST decided to end the article on a negative note. I guess it is entitled to.

But if you remember basic cognitive psychology, you might recall that people tend to remember beginnings and endings, not bits in the middle. So the subtle message ST sends is: There are free online courses, but they are not as good as what you might get face-to-face.

I would flip Winckler’s argument. How about considering the forms of collaboration and collaborative learning that take place online that cannot or do not happen face-to-face? How about the sheer relevance of these sorts of collaboration today and tomorrow?

But I do not have to convince Winckler since Reuters reported that he considers the free courses rigorous enough for his students. I might have to convince those who read the ST article and did not bother to get a second opinion.


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