"Clickbait" and Knowledge: What It Takes to Be a " Hyper Literate" Online Educator

Concurrent Session 9

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Master Internet Literacy while dodging "click-bait" with these amazing tricks!


Sara McCool, Multimedia Specialist - Sara McCool has worked in Education and Media production for 10 years. She completed her Master's of Fine Art degree in 2004 at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Her past experience includes Associate Faculty member in Interactive Media with the Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online and Web and Animation Instructor with After School Matters and the Adobe Foundation. She has several years of experience in finding the best ways to enhance teaching and learning through the use of media in both online and on-ground learning environments.

Extended Abstract

Presentation Description and Goals (up to 1000 words):
Starting with the advent of affordable video cameras in the 1960s, consumers began to use video to create content themed towards questioning social mores and advocating for social change.  Non-profit organizations dedicated to supporting the creation of content for Public Access stations such as Paper Tiger Television and Squeaky Wheel, Buffalo Media Resources became numerous. These grassroots media production centers along with literary works such as the ÒMedium is the MessageÓ by Marshall McCluhan(which asserts that the medium, rather than the message contained in the medium, influences the structure of humanity) lead to the creation and popularity of media literacy curriculum. This curriculum covered such things as the motives and strategies that impact news delivery and cultural norms in entertainment. 

As online education explodes in size, all online educators need to be knowledgeable of best practices for internet literacy in the digital age. In the search for knowledge, it is vital that online educators and content creators, have a basic understanding how internet marketing strategies shape the information that becomes the main narrative. This presentation will extend the critical eye of the media literacy programs popular in the 1990s towards the methods and strategies involved in shaping the information educators and students find online to inform a Òbest practicesÓ of media literacy for online educators. 

News and entertainment media has shifted from a broadcast model of: ÓBroadcasters and advertisers deciding what is popular,Ó to what BuzzfeedÕs founder Jonah Peritti describes as the ÒBWN(Bored at Work Network) deciding what is popular. According to Peritti, the ÒBWNÓ network is larger than any other media network. This media network largely shapes the news any individual will encounter online.

Google is the worldÕs most popular search engine. The first step to finding information is to ÒGoogle it.Ó The top-ranking item in Google will receive 33% of traffic from a search, whereas the 5th ranking item will receive 6% of search traffic. How can faculty and students know which of these items are the more reliable or valuable information? What are the factors that impact an item rank in Google? What information is excluded from Google?  

According to Pew research, Facebook far exceeds any other source for news among Millenials(Pew Research Center, 2015). How does something become ÒnewsÓ in an individuals Facebook timeline? Recently, the April 2015 tragedy of  militants storming a Kenyan university, killing 147 people, was re-circulated on Facebook and received four times as many hits as when it was published in April. Many news sites such as Vox.com, Salon.com and TheRoot.com fit into the category of Òcontent aggregators.Ó Content aggregators gather content from the web and reuse it on their site. It is possible for a student doing research on a subject to come across an article that was published recently, however aggregates content from an event that happened months or years ago. How does a user determine the actual date of the event if a news item in their timeline?  

As instructors of students whose main source of knowledge is Google and Facebook, online instructors require a basic understanding of how to evaluate the quality of information their students are finding.

Twitter in addition to Facebook, mediates our relationship to news and shape the online conversation, but there are few rules for identifying ÒrealÓ users versus fake or purchased users. There is a booming industry for paid twitter followers and re-tweets that do not require any kind of different label than an authentic re-tweet or follow. Finding experts in oneÕs field and communicating with them on Twitter is a frequent activity used by instructors to incorporate the social media platform into studies. How are students deciphering an expert in their field? Does the number of twitter followers equate to being a reliable expert? In addition to fake followers, Twitter is also the site for fake political campaigns such as #EndFathersDay which sincere political justice advocates have joined. In this environment how do you determine if a twitter account is reliable or real? 

The goals of this session include sharing with members of the online education community the methods and strategies of online marketers and content creators. This presentation will work as a Òcheat sheetÓ for educators to help determine the value, reliability and intentions of information found online. 
This presentation will cover the flowing items:
1. Definition and examples of ÒClick-baitÓ 
2. How content becomes high ranking in Google
3. The factors that affect Facebook timeline content curation
4. Determining if a Twitter Account is authentic. 
5. The viral strategies of top Internet marketer Buzzfeed. 
6. Specific in-class uses.
Online educators can use this information when guiding student research and also inform the content they themselves share with their students. 

Beginning Group activity: Attendees will be asked to share times they have clicked on what they would consider Òclick-baitÓ and/or a Buzzfeed article.  
Middle Group Activity: Live online poll of audience asking to identify the veracity of three different news items.  
End Group activity: Attendees will be given three news events and asked to share how they would determine if they are true or false.