Monday, June 28, 2010

Trusting sources- thoughts from EBC session

Fair warning- this post was written on the fly before a session. Will hope to more fully develop some of these thoughts later.

In a really great Edubloggercon session we were discussing the idea of "crap detection" and how to help students navigate the overwhelming flow of information. In short- how do we teach kids what sources to value and what not to value. Angela Maiers spoke up and suggested 3 questions that students/ all of us need to be asking every time we are presented with new information. I don't have the questions jotted down and couldn't find them in a quick search, but they boil down to- making sure where the source is coming from, what is their purpose, etc. The questions were very good, but my thoughts aren't centered around the 3 questions as much as they are centered on the very process of attaching three questions every time we encounter new information.

What I spoke of then is that I feel the whole issue revolves around trust. My question is - at what point do we begin to trust a source? And if we trust the source, do we need to constantly question it? Or do the questions change? By trust I mean not that the source is "correct" or factual necessarily- by trust I mean I consistently find value in that source's information, whether it's a person, a site, a newspaper, a chat- trust lies in the value it brings to me, not it's correctness or even if it agrees with my own views. My thoughts are steering toward not having to ask those three questions every time we encounter information. There has to be a time where we move past that, or else we turn into spinning wheels- for time's sake, there has to be a level of trust involved.

Now, maybe the questions change once trust has been developed from a source. Or maybe they're the same questions, but not as often. What could some possible new questions be?
Has this source changed affiliations since I first trusted them? Have they grown/changed? If so, how does that affect my trust level? I'm thinking that once a source has built trust, perhaps this is a lasting thing...if they change or grow in a different direction, I would still value their input. So what situation would occur where the trust would be broken? Sometimes when I personally meet someone my opinion changes- they try too hard, they are more narrow minded than I imagine, etc. I guess my trust would be broken if I feel they are not as authentic as I once thought. Authenticity and connectedness to classroom realities is important to me.

Which brings me to my next thought- maybe it's more important to figure out what's important to me, before I think about how I place or not place trust in sources. So what is important to me when I consider sources of learning?

  • Authenticity. I don't like fake people or those that put on different shows for different people. If they are telling people what they want to hear and changing their story for different audiences, I've got no faith in them
  • Connected to classroom realities. This is important to me. I want sources that have walked the walk and haven't forgotten what it's like to try to affect change at the local level
  • Practical. I enjoy real, grounded ideas and thoughts. Something that can be used. I don't like those that get hung up on semantics. Yes, words are important, but action is more important than debate. There is a place for the more theoretical aspects, but their point should be to inform action. Those that argue/debate just for the sake of doing so are not advancing the cause.

As I head into my next session, I'll finish by saying that the process of information fluency seems to be as much about each individual's trust levels and what is important to them as it is the simple methods of "crap detection". Once you figure yourself out and what is important to you, you can have a much better chance of also figuring out how you apply your values to the information landscape.

Until next time!