Combatting Disinformation at a Community College Library
As an academic librarian, I feel my most important job is to equip students with the skills they need to differentiate between fact and disinformation both in their personal and academic lives.
While working at a community college library, I've developed a standard one-shot instructional session to help improve critical information literacy. This begins with an overview of finding sources and ends with a protocol for their evaluation. After explaining evaluation criteria including author, currency, publisher, credibility and objectivity, I share a current article trending on social media. I have students vote whether or not they trust the article and then we evaluate each of the five criterion together. This process includes using external tools like mediabiasfactchecker.com to see where news sources fall on the political bias spectrum, as well as additional searches to vet authors, publishers, and publications. In the end, I re-poll the students and facilitate a debriefing session about why their opinions may or may not have changed. This can be very effective in breaking down the distinction between how students process information in personal and academic settings.
While I like to use this technique as a crash course, I also try and instill information literacy skills throughout student's course of education. I am currently implementing an 'Ask your librarian' discussion forum to our LMS. This will allow students to post research evaluation questions in a shared area where we can iteratively work through the information vetting process together.