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Here some of my notes on the second part of Crash Course’s series on media and digital literacies.

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This episode focused on fact checking. To do this, presenter John Green outlined a Stanford University study on how a group university professors and students evaluated information online.

The participants focused on superficial elements of source sites, e.g., how it presented information, instead of looking deeper on what information it shared.

On the other hand, professional fact checkers armed themselves with at least three questions to evaluate sources:

  1. Who is behind this information and why are they sharing it?
  2. What is the evidence for their claims?
  3. What do other sources say about the sharer and its claims?

Answering these questions is not as simple as ABC, but it does provide an easy-to-remember set of 1-2-3 to evaluate what we read, watch, or listen to.

Near the end of the video, Green highlighted the difference between being cynical and being skeptical. The former is being “generally distrustful of everyone else’s motives” while the latter is being “not easily convinced”.

All of us could use a healthy dose of skepticism every day. The problem is that our bias might raise this shield when the information does not align to what we already know or believe. This is why asking the 1-2-3 regardless of source or our compass helps keep us in check.

I like the band Walk Off The Earth, WOTE. My favourite member is Mike Taylor, more popularly known as Beard Guy.

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Was known as Beard Guy. Mike Taylor passed away recently and the band shared a tribute video above.

I do not know of many who die naturally in their sleep at age 51. Perhaps they are as rare as people who say almost nothing and yet are critical to the identity and success of a group.

Perhaps that is something to aspire to — silent impact. It is the sort that is hidden yet strong. It is ordinary when viewed at a distance yet extraordinary when examined closely.

RIP, Beard Guy. May more of us strive to be more like you.

Much of the press chooses to focus on how robots might replace people or otherwise contribute to a Hollywood dystopian future.

I would rather use this Gates video to highlight how such technology can be boringly meaningful and effective.

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Boring because the use of robots does not pretend replace people or cause their end. Meaningful because the robots featured augment instead of replace human function. They enable, not just enhance.

That same principle of meaningful integration as a result of enabling instead of just enhancing is something that can be applied to everyday technologies for teaching and learning.

John Green and co have just released part 1 of their Crash Course series on navigating digital information.

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If I had to sum up the takeaway from the video, it would be this: Just because it looks like a news article does not make it one. Appearances like layout, graphics, and slickness matter, but these should not distract from the quality and accuracy of the content. To determine those latter qualities, we need to investigate the sources of the article.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

However, Green mentioned a study by the Stanford History Education Group which highlighted how historians and university students focused on the superficial instead of digging deep.

Speaking of digging deep, I could find the Stanford group online, but not the documentation about the study from the Crash Course video page. Might Crash Course consider providing a link to such evidence and not just its main sponsors/collaborators?

… it is biased.

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According to the video above, we introduce these forms of bias: Interaction, latent, and selection.

Our technologies are not just tools. They are designed with intent, and even the best intentions are tinged with our biases.

While some in the realms of schooling and education argue about fixed vs growth mindsets, we should not forget what neuroscience also tells us.

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The video above explains fluid and crystallised intelligence. These are not synonymous with growth and fixed mindsets respectively. Rather, they are states of the human brain based on age and brain function.

If I had to link mindset types and neuroscience, I would suggest that crystallised intelligence (a function of age) can contribute to fixed mindsets, i.e., how our nature affects our nurture. We cannot win that war — we literally become small-minded thanks to neurone loss as we age.

However, we might fight daily battles with social and physical activities to develop fluid intelligence. These are nurturing moves that might shape our nature. This is not growth in the strictest sense since we start losing neurones notably from age 40 onwards. But it shows a willingness to keep the strategic parts of thinking alive as long as possible.

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This WaPo video featured people who shared why and how the future holds hope.

One of the lines that stood out to me was from an activist who said that we should not work in silos nor in parallel. In other words, we should not work in isolation nor should we be wasting replicated effort. We need to communicate and collaborate more effectively.

“Not in silos nor in parallel” might just be a theme of mine in 2019.

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