Information Litter - Recognizing Information Abuse
One of the most important lessons students should learn about information is how to evaluate it. This lesson teaches students how to recognize some of the forms of information abuse: chain letters, propaganda, hearsay, defamation, bias, information coercion, friendship assurances, scams-hoaxes & get-rich schemes, and TMI- too much information, all of which will be referred to as information litter.
I created the term information litter for this particular lesson. I am not aware of any other umbrella term for the types of information abuse covered in this lesson. Information handling and management continues to change with new technology and terminology, but students still need to be aware of these negative types of information.
Definition: Information Litter is any information that misleads, manipulates, self-aggrandizes, defrauds, clutters, overly exposes, maligns, demands, or preys on insecurity or greed.
The following pages include nine examples of information litter, which may be used in several ways:
1. Print out each of the nine examples of information litter. Crumple them up separately and place them on desks around the room or even on the floor under the desks. Instruct students to not throw them away if some kind-hearted soul starts to pick them up for you. Or you can have the crumpled pages on a pile on your desk or table, along with a clean bucket or wastebasket. When you’re ready to start the lesson, pitch the paper wads one at a time to different students. Have them open up the wadded paper and read it aloud to the class. Find out if students are familiar with the term. The worksheet following the information litter pages is available if you’d like your students to take notes as the lesson proceeds. After any discussion, the student can wad the paper back up and take a shot in the bucket on your desk/table. Continue until all nine examples are read and discussed.
The last two pages are optional lesson notes for students if you’d like for them to pay closer attention to what’s being said. Or they can be used following the lesson to see how well they listened. I took some liberties with the questions.
2. If you choose to not use the worksheets, you might show each Information Litter sheet on the projector screen for visual learners to refer to as the student reads. If you choose this method, pitch the wads of paper in the same order as your slide show.
3. Another option: Print out the information litter examples to make posters or a bulletin board display to remind students of the different types of information litter that they will come in contact with on a regular basis.