- Highlighting the difficulty educators can encounter when searching for online resources, the Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN) found that of more than 30,000 free sets of material on the internet, about 700 — now available online from CLEAN — were usable for schools, Education Week reports.
- Some of the examples that weren’t appropriate include materials developed by groups that don’t believe climate change is happening, while others come from sources, like oil companies, that may skew information. But for budget-strapped teachers and schools, free materials can be hard to ignore.
- Teachers also run up against other issues, with some finding their own peers in the school building are telling students climate change isn’t real, and at least one teacher reported that they are now teaching climate literacy to help students tell if what they’re reading on the subject is correct, fake or untrustworthy.
Chief academic officers and others in district academic and curriculum offices must carefully vet resources, considering what organizations or corporations may have financed a given report or helped to write materials found online, as Education Week’s story noted.
The prevalence of propaganda online is problematic in and of itself. But it also offers opportunities for educators to teach students additional lessons about media literacy and how to evaluate the accuracy and reliability of an information source. Digital and media literacy is no longer a "nice-to-have" in curriculum, but a "must-have."
Since the 2016 election, the Stony Brook University Center for News Literacy’s Digital Resource Center, for example, reported a 300% increase in visitors, as Education Dive has reported. It’s necessary, then, for students to know how to think critically and decide if the information they see and read — particularly on social media or web sites at large — is data they can trust.
Educators looking for ideas on how to build media literacy skills for themselves and students can turn to experts for help. The Center for News Literacy, part of the Stony Brook University School of Journalism, has online lesson plans, as does Teaching Tolerance and Common Sense. All can help administrators and teachers learn to feel more comfortable wading through the information online as they build curriculum for students.