Category Archives: Uncategorized

Information Fluency: Detecting Bias

During the seven weeks of working on our research projects, information fluency and its emphasis on accessing and acquiring good sources, analyzing those sources and applying the knowledge has been an  ongoing skill practiced over and over again in a variety of ways. But one I wanted to focus on one aspect of information fluency–understanding bias– and how I saw it at work in my freshmen.

I gave my students passages to read that included a bias and asked them to identify what the bias was. Interestingly, when the topic of the reading was something the students did not have strong feelings about, they were able to more easily spot the bias and see it for what it really was. But when given a hot button topic such as abortion or raising the driving age, students’ own strong opinions and bias got in the way of accurately identifying the bias of the author.

I know I’m not stumbling upon anything new and rare here. We all know that our own bias keeps us from seeing things clearly. But this experience led me to question how I can balance the skill of developing an opinion (something I do have to work on with freshmen in their writing) with the ability to encounter others’ opinions and see them for what they really are, bias and all? It is a struggle students face every year when doing research: how to keep hold of their own voice when reading a multitude of other voices, some of which are intentionally misleading?

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digital citizenship…in the early stages

Teaching technology in Kindergarten has been really fun because we have wonderful options…iPads, laptops, flip cameras, etc. In this day in age, we know that most kids already know how to use the basic functions of these technologies. What I have found most useful though, has been treating my 6 year olds like they have not touched any of these devices before. To ensure safety with these technology mediums, we practice walking across the room and using two hands to hold iPads or laptops. We have discussions about good choices…such as, making sure our hands are clean, not using food/drinks in close proximity, and knowing the locations of the on-off buttons.

Every time my students use technology, we approach it with safety in mind first. This has been extremely beneficial in building their awareness and knowledge in keeping things safe, borrowing from school’s property, and learning age-appropriate functions. We take it slow! I would highly recommend this approach until students show independent responsibility with these awesome and delicate machines!

Practicing safe computer use at home is also an important aspect. This includes setting boundaries with your children on what they can explore on a device, practicing good posture while using devices, as well as developing appropriate time limits.

Despite the title of the article,  A Tech Happy Professor Reboots, from The Chronicle of Higher Education, the featured “tech happy professor” is not disavowing his digital methods, just rolling back his message to include the essential first step.

Those on a quest for pure methodology must remember that regardless of which subject you teach or which methods you use to teach it, to quote a dear colleague: “you’ve got to be relatable.”

Thoughtful Reflection on Khan Academy & Science Ed.

What Can Computer Science Learn from a Fine Arts Approach to Teaching?

I don’t teach computer science and I don’t teach fine arts – but I found this short study very interesting – and completely applicable to physics (and most other subjects too, I think). The study looks at two apparently similar programs, one in computer science and another in information technology. One is firmly rooted in 20th century learning while the other is embracing new ideas. The study shows that it’s going to take a new paradigm to tackle challenging educational problems (in this case: the gender gap in computer science). The specific & practical recommendations made were intended for computer science teachers, but could easily be extended to most any discipline.