Teaching Filtering Skills More Important Than Ever!

(Thank you everyone for your concern! We are all safe in Bangkok this evening with Government imposed curfew on the city)

I’m not sure what the news is like about the Bangkok protests outside of Thailand. But inside of Thailand is has been sporadic at best. Leaving people wanting to know and turning to constantly updated streams of information such as Facebook and Twitter.

Twitter has made it big within our school community. Many teachers, students, and parents have been following different hash tags or lists. Popular Twitter hash tags have been #bangkok #redshirts #redshirt #thaicrisis.

Here’s the issue…..everyone has an opinion and both sides have been using Twitter and the people following the stream there as a way to have their voice heard.

I don’t think that’s a bad things, but are we teaching people that these live streams of information need to be filtered? I wonder how many people in Bangkok took the time to actually look at who was tweeting what, and understood their agenda. For as much good information there was in the stream there was propaganda from both sides.

Whether we like it or not as a global society we have come to expect this type of live stream when events are happening. Whether it’s an earthquake in Haiti or protests in Bangkok, we want to know what’s going on NOW and we don’t want to wait……we have become a nearly now society.

There are two things that concern me:

1) What concerned me the most is the length at which citizen journalists would good to to get the story. Putting themselves in harms way, getting shot at, and in some cases actually dieing for being in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Is nearly now news worth this? Yet it happens and continues to happen as people run around the city trying to get pictures of burning building and putting themselves in harms way.

2) Secondly were the tweets from people outside of Thailand who clearly were not informed on what had been happening over the past 7 weeks or so here in Bangkok and felt the need to add their 2cents to the stream, making it even more confusing on what the actual truth was.

Then there is the mainstream media. The CNNs and BBCs of the world who are trying to capture and tell the story the best they can with very few actual journalists on the ground. They both pulled pictures, tweets, and videos from things that were being tweeted and in at least two stories miss reported, or miss represented what was happening in the image. Scary and very misleading to readers.

What we need to understand is that if we’re going to live in a nearly now world we all need to learn to filter information and assume that some information is going to be wrong, It’s the nature of reporting live events in almost real time. Things are going to get missed, people will take advantage of real time streams, and we need to know that it’s going to happen!

I have to say I’m worried that we’re not teaching our students, who this ‘nearly now’ world is going to affect the most, how to use it properly. How to filter the good from the bad, and the fact from the opinion. We talk about this in regards to books…..but I do not know of any school, anywhere in the world that talks about this when it comes to live streaming information on the web……and people….this is the future of news….the Evening News at 6pm is dead!

As I myself was wrestling to keep up with the news streams today, I was talking with 10th graders about their digital profiles. As we were waiting for a site to load a girl in the front row got frustrated and said.

“Why’s it taking a million years to load!?


Reality….it might have taken 7 maybe even 10 seconds for the page to load, yet she was frustrated it wasn’t loading faster.

And we’ve all been there, frustrated that 10 seconds to access a websites literally halfway around the world was too slow.

We live in a nearly now world, we need to stop pretending we don’t and start preparing students to be responsible global citizens in it!

Because in a nearly now world 10 seconds feels like a million years.