…how do we know what is real? Moving on to the article on Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age (2004) what really stood out to me was how Siemens discusses the new chaotic manner in which learning now occurs.

Including technology and connection making as learning activities begins to move learning theories into a digital age. We can no longer personally experience and acquire learning that we need to act.

With the abundance of information people can recieve through technology these days, learning obviously is no longer linear. Kids will continue to pick up information independently through their own online experiences and their peers. If we can go and find answers to any question we want by just typing it into a search bar, then the goals and purpose behind teaching have probably also shifted. We no longer only have a responsiblity to teach content and concepts but also to teach our students to really analyze the information they recieve. Yes, the internet offers a wealth of information, but if we don’t teach kids to look at it with a critical eye, we could be going down a pretty dangerous path.

Before the Christmas holidays I used an augmented reality app called Santa Spy Cam to make elves appear in our classroom.

The kids loved it and I was pretty pleased with myself for using technology to create a little magic for the children in the spirit of Christmas! However, when I showed it to my fiance, he asked me a question I did not expect, “did you ever think about what you’re teaching the kids about reality?” He went on to talk about how using apps involving augmented reality could possibly be teaching our children that when what’s in front of them isn’t good enough for their liking, they can just find an app to change it to the reality they want! I of course had never really thought about it from that perspective before and I still think that Christmas should be made special for kids while they still believe in the magic of Santa. I did however, reflect more on the importance of ensuring children know how to think critically about the information they recieve and not simply believe everything they see or read.

I attended a conference where Alan November was one of the keynote speakers and during one of his talks he discussed the importance of showing students bogus websites and information so that they can begin to learn how to filter through their own indpendent learning. We used to have more control over the information children were exposed to, however, this isn’t really the case any longer. So, as teachers it really is our role to teach children about not only doing research, but analyzing their research and making sure their sources are reliable! The fact is, anyone can post anything on the internet these days.

Here is an example that Alan showed us of a bogus website you could possibly use in your classroom.


If you showed this to your kids, would they believe in the Tree Octopus right away or would they question it? Try it out and see what happens!

10 Responses

  1. Pana, I love how you used the augmented reality app adding an element of magic to the Christmas experience! I’m sure the students were enthralled! I would be!

    You mentioned teaching students the importance of checking the credibility of sources and I think more than ever we definitely need to focus on evaluating information and being discerning. I read an article about an elementary teacher who used twitter in her classroom and discovered that someone was impersonating her and had created a twitter account with similar photos. Quite bizarre…

    1. Ah yes, I read about that too, that was Kathy Cassidy right? She was so careful and yet still it happened!

      On a different note, are you following her on Twitter and her blog? She is such an awesome person to have in your PLN! Definitely someone I look to for inspiration. Great ideas and she does so many things on the global ed side of things too! 🙂

  2. I did a similar activity with an article from The Onion and my kids had no idea it was not real. At the end of our 50 minute class I had to sit them down and explain this was false and why. The students just assumed that because it looked like an online news article it was all true. While I think it proved a point, these students still continued to try and site Wikipedia as a major resource in papers. Part of growing learning through messing around has to involve detailed teaching on credibility and evaluating resources.

    1. Yes, kids these days really do trust the internet and the information they find on it. Teaching them to evaluate the sources is such a critical skill with the way information is now being distributed now. I struggle with how to create that balance of teaching my kindergarteners about finding information on the web, but at the same time monitoring them and helping them to navigate it in a safe and beneficial way can be quite tricky at this age!

  3. I loved the augmented reality elf visit! What fun!

    I used the tree octopus page for year 7’s on not just critiquing and evaluating information, but to illustrate how they need to use their own knowledge as part of the evaluation or triangulation process. Don’t just accept what you think isn’t true just because someone has published it…

    I teach the students to use Wikipedia – we even add our own entries and correct the information, but if we are using the information from Wikipedia, we need to use the references at the bottom and find the original source.

    1. It really is so important to develop these skills of critical thinking. I do wonder however, how it would translate into my kindergarten class as 5 year olds are so much more naive than year 7’s! I should find some time to actually present this somehow and see what they do with it or if I can actually bring them to question the reliability of the source.

  4. Hi Pana

    I enjoyed reading your post and it was interesting to run into the legendary Tree Octopus again. Not seen him for a while. I’m pretty sure most kids would be quite accepting of it if presented in a school environment. The original spoof fooled plenty of adults after all because it was posted on an encyclopedia type website.

    I sometimes wonder about the best ways to educate children about reliability criteria, especially when deliberate misinformation online has become almost an art form. It’s so difficult for them to separate fact from fiction, and I want them to be able to retain some aspects of their naivety. I would be upset to think that all of this exposure to information will create a generation of young cynics.

    1. Hi Mike, I’m currently struggling with how I can educate my own students about the very idea that you mention. Because they are so young, I wonder if it’s too soon for them to fully understand? However, many of them do have free access to the internet at home and who knows what sort of sites they will stumble upon. So, on this end of things, I feel that it is necessary to begin to educate them. But they’re 5 years old! I still am not sure how to go about it…

  5. Loved the idea of bringing some elf magic into the classroom. Great idea!

    If we want our kids to cast a critical eye over the information presented to them, we have to model this ourselves. There are so many times when I google something in front of the class and just accept the first page that pops up. Oh dear! I should also start explaining why I trust certain sources.

    I’ll try out the bogus website on my kids – looking forward to the discussion it generates.

    1. So true, modelling it is such a large part of it and I love the idea of “thinking out loud” as you use the internet together as a class. Verbalizing your thought process as a teacher will definitely give them better idea of how you approach information you find on the web. I think I’ll try that! Thanks! 🙂

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