A Student Powered Snopes: Building Digital Literacy with the Digital Polarization Initiative

Fake news, misinformation, hoaxes, alternative facts … there is a growing sense of urgency to equip students with the resources, skills, and critical thinking necessary to establish the credibility of truth claims, the authoritativeness of sources, and the soundness of evidence. On topics ranging from politics to science, health, environmental issues, foreign policy and more, we now live in an information ecosystem that circulates claims with near instant speed and with little context for evaluation. In the face of this, calls for specific forms of literacy are multiplying–whether these be digital literacy, information literacy, media literacy, web literacy, or some combination of all of these. The problem is not new, and for some time we have had rubrics and heuristic guides, such as CRAAP and RADCAB, to provide students with at least a basic framework for the analysis of claims and documents.

But increasingly, we see the need for a more robust set of resources that will help build student competence in the analysis and evaluation of truth claims, especially those found in online environments and social media spaces. One of the more promising projects that has emerged is the Digital Polarization Initiative, developed by Mike Caulfield with the support of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. The “DigiPo” initiative goes well beyond a simple checklist, and involves an infrastructure and space for students to fact-check, annotate, and provide context for information that appears on the web and in their social media feeds. The Digipo site, which functions as a wiki, is open to any user but is specifically oriented toward college students and classes. Here is how Mike Caulfield introduces the initiative:

Beginning this week and over the course of the next several weeks, we’ll have workshop gatherings to discuss strategies for addressing these issues in your classes and to work through the process of participating in the Digipo initiative and the other elements of the curriculum for digital/information literacy that Mike and others are building. We’ll begin this Friday at 1:30 in the Johnson Center space (Abell 102). If you can’t make it then, let me know and we’ll work out other arrangements.

For further reading:

2 thoughts on “A Student Powered Snopes: Building Digital Literacy with the Digital Polarization Initiative”

  1. I’ve actually been in touch with Mike about using the curriculum for digital/information literacy you mentioned in the post. I’m teaching a course on persuasive media, and I’m going to have my students both use the curriculum and consider it as an example of persuasive media.

    • Yes, I noted that you and Mike were connecting in the comments section on Bryan’s post about “upgrading CRAAP.” Sounds cool…I think we’ll be looking at several pieces of the curriculum for the workshops in the coming weeks.


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