In February 2020, the World Health Organization warned that the COVID-19 pandemic was also resulting in an INFOdemic: a term they defined as "an over-abundance of information – some accurate and some not – that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it."
Scribbling the word down in my notebook, I remember thinking a number of things - but one thought persisted: while this global health crisis has certainly exacerbated it, the truth is we've been living through an INFOdemic for quite a while now. Plus, I can't think of another term that more accurately conveys the emotion and urgency of this moment. It was instantly burned into my brain.
A few weeks later, like so many other conferences, California's annual gathering for technology educators (and friends) had to rethink their face to face event. Unlike many others, though, the folx leading CUE decided to take the party online and, voila! Spring CUE went virtual. This mattered a lot to me because Darren and I were scheduled to be featured speakers: an opportunity we were more than a little stoked about. The possibility of still getting to do doing this work, just online, was exciting (if a little daunting).
Which leads me back to INFOdemics. Although we have a bushel full of presentations resulting from our work on Fact VS Fiction that we could have shared with CUE, not only did Darren and I want to create something new, but... we've been working on some brand new news literacy activities for our next book in the Fact VS Fiction series <squeee!> AND we wanted to test them out! And so we unveiled a session sharing the same name as this post and here's a secret... I'm super duper proud of it! This is just a sliver of a sliver of the things we're working on for the new book, but reactions from our virtual audiences confirmed that we're on the right track.
Here's our time at CUE played out...
First, we got to round out the "Meet The Authors!" panel on 3/28.
Then we were interviewed during a "Featured Speaker Q&A" We used this time to unpack why this work matters to us. And, boy, does it. This session was about creating a sense of urgency and teasing the main event, our featured session on 4/1.
Finally, we shared our new session, Fact VS Fiction: An Educator Guide for Surviving and Thriving During an ‘Infodemic.’ Again, this will give you some hints about the work we're crafting for our next book - which will focus primarily on lesson plans and activities.
Speaking of lesson plans and activities, Darren and I have also started writing a monthly series of articles on news literacy for School Library Journal. We're only three months in, but we've got the same goal for those as we did for CUE: striking a balance between sounding the alarm and providing educators with some tools to put out the fire. I'll continue to add them to this Wakelet as they go live. We hope they prove useful.
Let me wrap this up by saying this: In all of our CUE sessions, in one way or another, we repeated the line, "we're not here to sell books. We're here to change the world." And that's really true. I don't think I need to convince anyone reading this that the world has been upended over the last several years. Yes, COVID-19 is our most urgent and immediate concern. But like all the other problems we face as a species and as cohabitants of this planet: misinformation and the way its being weaponized to manipulate and monetize us is throwing fuel on an already fast burning dumpster fire. What's more, this is the part of the problem we feel educators are most capable of affecting. We ARE living through an INFOdemic. And it's up to all of us to be part of the cure. We hope you find the resources I've shared here useful. There's more to come, y'all. Stay tuned!