Unit 02

Unit 2:
How to Read Carefully the General Media
NOTE: Before starting Unit 2: Assignments #1 through #4, look at Assignment #5 so that as you work through Assignments #1 through #4 you can assemble materials for Assignment #5.

Unit 2: Assignment #1 (due before 11:59 pm Central on THU JUN 23):

  1. To appreciate why it’s important for you, a 21st-century college student, to become more digitally literate, read this excerpt from Ventimiglia and Pullman’s (2016) article, “From Written to Digital: The New Literacy.” Figure 1 (on the third page of the PDF) would make excellent grist for the “Why am I learning this?” section of your Course Journal for this Unit.
  2. To further appreciate why it’s important for any 21st-century citizen to become more digitally literate, read Silverman and Singer-Vine’s (2016) article, “Most Americans Who See Fake News Believe It, New Survey Says.”
  3. Read Wineburg’s (2016) overview of the Stanford Digital Literacy study.
  4. Test yourself on both the first set of example items and the second set of example items from the Stanford Digital Literacy study. Make sure you read through all the examples of students’ correct and incorrect answers (and why their answers were correct versus incorrect).
  5. Read the following documents, each of which explains several steps for improving digital literacy. Make a list of all the steps. (You should have more than 20 steps on your list.) Although it might feel as though these documents re-mention some of the same steps, overlap and repetition are always helpful for learning, and each document explains some steps that the other articles don’t.
    1. Inskeep’s (2016) article, “A Finder’s Guide to Facts
    2. Green’s (2017) article, “The Honest Truth about Fake News … and How Not to Fall for It
    3. Davis’s (2016) article, “Fake or Real? How to Self-Check the News and Get the Facts
    4. The International Federation of Librarian Associations’ (no date) Infographic
    5. Facebook’s (no date) list of “Tips to Spot False News
  6. Go to the Unit 2: Assignment #1 Discussion Board and make a new post of at least 200 words in which you discuss the following:
    1. First, which five steps for improving digital literacy were you the MOST familiar with before reading these documents?
    2. Second, which five steps were you the LEAST familiar with before reading these documents?
    3. Third, which five errors that students made in the Stanford Digital Literacy study (illustrated in either the first or the second set of example items, or both) surprised you the LEAST – and why did those five errors surprise you the least?

Unit 2: Assignment #2 (due before 11:59 pm Central on THU JUN 23):

  1. To understand both writers’ financial motivations to produce false digital information and readers’ psychological tendencies to believe and promote false digital information, read
    1. Pogue’s (2017) article, “The Ultimate Cure for the Fake News Epidemic Will Be More Skeptical Readers,”
    2. Borel’s (2017) article, “Fact-Checking Won’t Save Us from Fake News,”
    3. Engelhaupt (2016) article, “You’ve Probably Been Tricked by Fake News and Don’t Know It,”
    4. BBC Trending’s (2017) article, “The Rise of Left-Wing, Anti-Trump Fake News,” and
    5. the abstract of Bessi and Ferrara’s (2016) empirical study, “Social Bots Distort the 2016 Presidential Election Online Discussion.”
  2. Go to the Unit 2: Assignment #2 Discussion Board and make a new post in which you do the following:
    1. First, list, from the articles you read, the THREE exact quotes that intrigued you the most about WRITERS’ financial motivation to produce false digital information;
    2. Second, list, from the articles you read, the FIVE exact quotes that intrigued you the most about READERS’ psychological tendencies to believe and promote false digital information; and
    3. Third, discuss, in at least 100 words, which of the Cognitive Biases you learned in Unit 1 play a role in these psychological tendencies.

Unit 2: Assignment #3 (due before 11:59 pm Central on FRI JUN 24):

  1. To learn how to debunk Internet rumors, it’s good to get familiar with Snopes.com, which in April 2020 was featured on the TV show “Jeopardy,” do the following:
    1. First, read Wikipedia’s (no date) entry on Snopes.com.
    2. Second, read Eddy’s (2014) article, “Meet the Mysterious Creator of Rumor-Debunking Site, Snopes.com.”
    3. Third, skim-read through FactCheck.org’s (no date) fact-checking of rumors about the creators of Snopes.com.
  2. From Snopes.com, find out the truth about five non-political Internet rumors or urban legends that are interesting to you.
    1. By “non-political” we mean NOT “pertaining to the government or the public affairs of a country,” meaning NOT about government, government officials, such as Congress members, or candidates (past or present) for political office.
    2. Some examples of non-political Internet rumors or urban legends, which you can use for this assignment, are the following: Is throwing rice at weddings bad for birds? If you go swimming less than an hour after you eat, will you get stomach cramps? If you swallow chewing gum, will it take seven years to digest? Does our hair grow back darker or thicker after we shave it? Do we use only ten percent of our brains? Did Coca-Cola used to contain cocaine?
  3. To learn how not to be tricked by satire websites, do the following:
    1. First, look through this list of satire websites.
    2. Second, watch CNN’s Anderson Cooper admit to having been tricked by a satire website.
      • You can adjust the speed on this YouTube (or any YouTube) by following these directions.
      • You can access a transcript of this YouTube (or any YouTube) by following these directions.
    3. Third, find two non-political instances, which are of interest to you, of other persons (besides Anderson Cooper) who have been tricked by a satire website.
  4. Go to the Unit 2: Assignment #3 and #6 Discussion Board and make a new post of at least 200 words in which you do the following:
    1. First, describe the five non-political Internet rumors or urban legends that you found out about on Snopes.com.
      • Provide the link from Snopes.com for each Internet rumor or urban legend (using the technique you learned from the Course How To so that your link will show up as actual text, rather than just a URL).
      • Explain why each of these Internet rumors or urban legends is of interest to you.
    2. Second, describe the two non-political instances of persons (besides Anderson Cooper) who have been tricked by a satire website.
      • Provide a link to each tricked-by-a-satire-website instance (using the technique you learned from the Course How To so that your link will show up as actual text, rather than just a URL).
      • Explain why each of these tricked-by-a-satire-website instances was of interest to you.

Unit 2: Assignment #4 (due before 11:59 pm Central on FRI JUN 24):

  1. To begin thinking about how techniques based on psychological science can override (in readers’ minds) false digital information or even protect against it initially taking hold, do the following:
    1. First, read Pasek’s (2017) article, “What Science Tells Us About How to Combat Fake News.”
    2. Second, read the graphic from Lewandowsky et al.’s (2012) article, “Misinformation and Its Correction: Continued Influence and Successful Debiasing.”
    3. Third, read Walton’s (2017) article, “’Psychological Vaccine’ May Protect Against Fake News, Alternative Facts,” which is about a study conducted at Cambridge University.
    4. Fourth, read Wood’s (2017) article, “Psychological ‘Vaccine’ Could Help Immunize Against Fake News,” which is about the same study conducted at Cambridge University.
    5. Fifth, read Bergland’s (2017) article, “Fake News ‘Vaccine’ Inoculates Against ‘Alternative Facts’,” which is again about that study conducted at Cambridge University; the repetition (with variation) is purposeful (as a mechanism for learning); at this point, you should understand the study well.
  2. Go to the Unit 2: Assignment #4 Discussion Board and make a new post of at least 200 words in which you propose a technique, based on psychological science, to override (in readers’ minds) false digital information or even protect against it initially taking hold.

Unit 2: Assignment #5 (due before 11:59 pm Central on SUN JUN 26):

  1. To consolidate all the information about digital literacy you have learned in this Unit (from Assignment #1 through Assignment #4), create a document to teach this information to other people. (Although you do not have to actually teach other people using the teaching document, you do have to create a teaching document using the medium you’ve chosen.)
    1. First, choose your audience. Your choices are (1) other college students; (2) middle-school students (age 12 to 14 years); or (3) older adults (over age 60).
    2. Next, choose your medium. Your choices are (1) a PowerPoint-type presentation (but could be made in GoogleSlides, Keynote, or PowerPoint); (2) a handout or Infographic; or (3) a comic strip (e.g., this comic strip from The Nibs).
    3. Your teaching document must summarize the information that you learned in EACH of the first four Assignments in this Unit and that information must be presented in a way that’s relevant to your audience, using your chosen medium.
    4. Export (or otherwise Save) your document as a PDF named YourLastname_PSY-225_DigitalLiteracy.pdf (no .pptx, .ppt, .doc, .docx, .keynote, or any other file types except for .pdf will be graded).
    5. Learn how to test the size of your PDF by reading through this handout.
      • Then, test the size of your PDF.
      • If the size of your PDF is too large to email to yourself, reduce the size of your PDF by following the suggestions in this handout.
  2. Go to the Unit 2: Assignment #5 Discussion Board and make a new Discussion Board post.
    1. First, state for which audience you chose to make a teaching document.
    2. Second, explain in one sentence why you chose that audience.
    3. Third, attach your teaching document PDF. To attach your PDF,
      • Look underneath the textbox where you typically type (or paste into) the Discussion Board, and you will see the “Attach” tool; it is the word “Attach” preceded by a paperclip icon.
      • Click on the “Attach” tool. Browse to the .pdf file on your computer and select your .pdf file.
      • Upload your .pdf file.
      • Do not attach your .pdf file by using the “Files” menu option on the left-hand side of the Discussion Board. Instead, use only the “Attach” tool that is found underneath the Discussion Board text box.
      • Be sure that your PDF is named YourLastname_PSY-225_DigitalLiteracy.pdf

Unit 2: Assignment #6 (due before 11:59 pm Central on SUN JUN 26):

  1. Starting in the next unit (Unit 3), you will begin having synchronous, text-based Group Chats (of two to three students) at the end of each unit. Each Group Chat will last one hour.
    1. First, find out which Chat Group you are in by consulting this Chat Group List [which will be available two weeks before the assignment is due; however, because of adds and drops, be sure to frequently refresh the page].
    2. NOTE: This is a password-protected PDF. You’ll have to type in a password to read the PDF.
      • The password is the email subject heading you’re supposed to use in this course when you email a question.
      • Capitalization, punctuation, and spacing matter for this password.
      • If you’re initially unable to open the PDF, and you’re sure you’re typing in the correct password:
        • Try a different browser. Some browsers are set to a default level of security that interferes with opening password-protected files. Using a different browser (which is a good go-to solution for a lot of Internet-related problems) should help.
        • Or save the PDF onto your own laptop or tablet, and open the PDF there (using Adobe Reader, Preview, or another PDF reader), rather than trying to open the PDF in your browser.
    3. After you’ve found out which Chat Group you’re in, arrange with the other members of your Chat Group a time when all of you can meet online for one hour to hold your small group text-based Chat for the next Unit (Unit 3: Assignment #6).
      • You can contact other members of your Chat Group through their wisc.edu email addresses, which you can obtain by hovering over or clicking on any student’s name in the Chat Group List. (Clicking on a student’s name should generate a new email message to that student.)
      • Or members of your Chat Group may decide to share phone numbers for texting each other to arrange your Chat Group dates/times.
      • Remember when you’re emailing (or texting) with your Chat Group to “Reply All.” By remembering to use “Reply All,” you won’t inadvertently leave anyone off your communications for arranging your meeting times.
      • Be sure to look through Unit 3: Assignment #6 before deciding on a date and time to meet for your Unit 3 Group Chat because there are tasks in Unit 3: Assignment #6 that all Chat Group members will need to have completed PRIOR to your Chat Group meeting.
      • Also, when deciding on a date and time to meet for your Group Chat, be aware that during the one-hour Group Chat, chatting with your Chat Group should be the ONLY thing you are doing during that hour (e.g., do not arrange the one-hour Group Chat to be when you are also doing something else).
  2. Identify the one member of your Chat Group whose last name comes last alphabetically in your Chat Group.
    1. That member is responsible for setting up the Group Chat room according to the instructions in the Course How To (under the topic, “How To Set Up a Group Chat Room on Your Laptop” or “How To Set Up a Group Chat Room on Your Mobile Device”)
    2. That member of your Chat Group should go ahead and set up the Group Chat room now, to make sure it will be ready for your Group Chat in the next Unit.
  3. ALL members of the Chat Group need to do the following:
    1. Learn from the Course How To:
      • “How To Participate in a Group Chat on Your Laptop” OR “How To Participate in a Group Chat on Your Mobile Device”;
      • That at least one member of the Chat Group must participate in the Group Chat using the browser Chrome on their laptop (rather than on their mobile device);
      • What to do if your Chat Group agrees on a date and time for your Chat, but one member of the Chat Group wants to reschedule or hasn’t joined the Chat within 15 minutes after the agreed-upon time; and
      • That all Group Chats are required to last ONE FULL HOUR. During that entire hour, the Group Chat should be the ONLY thing you’re doing. If you finish early, then practice the assignment more or discuss further implications.
    2. Go to the Unit 2: Assignment #3 and #6 Discussion Board and do the following:
      • First, read the posts made by other members of your Chat Group.
      • Second, make a response (a reply) to each of the other members of your Chat Group.
        • Each of your response posts should be at least 200 words.
        • If the other members of your Chat Group have not yet posted on Unit 2: Assignment #3, you will need to wait until they do OR until the due date for Unit 2: Assignment #3 has passed.
        • If the due date for Unit 2: Assignment #3 has passed, and all other members of your Chat Group have still not posted on Unit 2: Assignment #3, you will not be held responsible for making a response post to a response that doesn’t exist.
      • Third, make another post in which you tell us the following:
        • which Chat Group you are in (e.g., The Margins of Error: Group X);
        • who in your Chat Group is responsible for setting up the Group Chat room (please tell us this student’s first and last name);
        • who in your Chat Group will be responsible for using the browser Chrome on a laptop (not a mobile device) during your Group Chat (again, please tell us this student’s first and last name); and
        • what date (e.g., MON JUN 27) and time your Chat Group will meet for your Unit 3: Assignment #6 chat.
    3. Fourth, check the points you’ve earned in the course by following the instructions for “How To Check the Points You’ve Earned in this Course” in the Course How To. If you have any questions about the points you’ve earned, email Professor Gernsbacher.
    4. Finally, but IMPORTANTLY: Record a typical Unit entry in your own Course Journal for the current Unit, Unit 2.

Congratulations; you have finished Unit 2! Onward to Unit 3!