The library works to develop information literacy

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Dean Jennifer Fabbi and her team at Cal State San Marcos Library are on the front lines in the fight against fake news.

“When I first entered this field, it was about helping people find information,” Fabbi said. “Information was scarce and it often took a librarian to find it. Now you have an information glut; we drown there. But often people don’t have the skills to assess this information in terms of bias and legitimacy. “

This is why the library places special emphasis on information literacy and the development of university students able to navigate an increasingly complex landscape marked by sophisticated propaganda and click bait. The goal: to provide CSUSM students with the ability to engage and contribute to the communities in which they work and live.

While the CSUSM focuses on building research skills (“One of the most important things librarians do is work with students to assess sources in the context of their research questions,” says Fabbi) , these skills are vital for understanding digital information. the environment, including fake news.

“We want our students to be informed users of information,” said Yvonne Nalani Meulemans, the library’s teaching and learning manager. “We don’t want students to just google something. We want them to be able to assess the sources and the validity of what they find.

How bad is the current trend? Pulitzer Prize-winning truth seeker Politifact recently put it this way: “For those who care about accuracy and evidence, it’s time to recognize that something has really gone wrong. “

Meulemans points out that too many people fail to understand the motivations behind web sources, especially those shared on social media. The current trend is towards what many derisively call clickbait.

Exhibit A is what is commonly referred to as the Stanford Study. Conducted by researchers at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and published in November, the study collected and analyzed more than 7,800 responses from middle, high school and college students across the country. What he found was shocking: Students too often fall prey to false information spread on social media sites and Google searches. Most couldn’t tell the difference between a legitimate medical organization and a fringe source. And less than a third of the students were able to explain how the political agendas of the liberal rights group MoveOn.org and the Center for American Progress affected the content of a tweet from the former linked to a study by the latter.

“These results suggest that students need additional training on how best to navigate social media content, especially when that content comes from a source with a clear political agenda,” the authors found. ‘study.

“Our ‘digital natives’ may be able to switch from Facebook to Twitter while simultaneously uploading a selfie to Instagram and texting a friend,” the study said. “But when it comes to assessing the information that flows through social media channels, they are easily fooled.”

Meulemans said: “There is a huge amount of false information out there.”

Meulemans and Fabbi note that the University Library has started Information Literacy Institutes that bring teachers, librarians and others from local colleges and high schools to CSUSM to learn the intricacies of preparing students with subject matter skills. of information literacy for future education and life.

“The information available is so easy to access, but it can be more difficult to assess and assess than ever before,” Meulemans said. “I often tell students that learning to do quality research isn’t just necessary for success in school or in your career. Understanding how information is created, shared and used is fundamental to being part of a democratic society.

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