Critical Thinking: CRAP DETECTION

“Every man should have a built-in automatic crap detector operating inside him.”

Ernest Hemingway, 1954


Howard Rheingold has done extensive work in New Literacies, including “Crap Detection”

Howard Rheingold is a critic, writer, and teacher. Howard teaches courses on social media in U.C. Berkeley’s School of Information Management and in Stanford University’s Communication Department. He is also the author of 15 books about the social, cultural, and political effects of modern communication media and technologies.

***Here is a reaction to the Rheingold video which will be helpful when you do your own reaction to this lesson.

How much do you know about web literacy? (from Alan November, November Learning)

Take the following quiz  (you can do in teams) to see if you are:

Somewhat Savvy (0-5 points)
Moderately Savvy (6-10 points)
Downright Nerdy (10+ points)

1. List 4 major search engines and a major directory.

2. What is a blog?

3. Why might you use quotation marks when conducting a search?

4. URL is an acronym for…

5. Identify three Boolean search terms.

6. How do you find the owner or publisher of a website?

7. Identify these extensions and what they represent:
.org     .com     .sch     .k12     .edu     .gov     .ac     .net     .mil     .co

8. How do you find out who is linked to your school’s website?

9. What clues in a Web address might indicate you are on a personal website?

10. How would you conduct a search for the following: a list of Web sites of all the academic institutions in South Africa? (Hint: South Africa’s country code is .za)

11. How do you find the history of any given website?

12. How would you conduct a search for the following: US higher education websites that contain the word turtle?

13. How do sites get to the top of a result list in Google?

(answers HERE – please discuss in class)

TRY THIS: Find the publisher of the site and check out these bogus ones

NEXT: Check the HISTORY of the site and the EXTERNAL LINKS to find some surprises!

It’s very important for us to critically examine what we find on the Internet, especially since that has become our go-to place for information.

One tool is called the CRAAP TEST. (see pdf below)

CRAAP test_eval_websites

Go to a Web site you are using for your EE or for another school project OR choose a random but still appropriate site. Follow the CRAAP test and record your findings on your blog (you can incorporate into the assignment at the end)

Let’s check out this VIDEO:

and this one “Are They as Savvy as They Seem?”

corresponding blog post: “Being a Digital Native Isn’t Enough”

This is your Brain on Google:


Evaluating Websites

Check out the tools on “Verification Junkie”

Can You Spot the Fake Scientific Studies?

Critical Thinking for Life:

Critical Thinking in the Age of Spin:

App tests “truthiness” in Politics

The 6 Thinking Hats (DeBono)


See how applying the 6 Hat Method works as a teacher thinks about STRESS and TESTING

TASK part 1:

Write a reflective blog post OR make a vlog  and post to your blog discussing your thoughts on this lesson.

You will need to:

1. Address the Rheingold video and use specifics

2. Refer to at least 1 of the resources in the resource list

3. Address the Frontline videos (there are 3)

4. Discuss your thoughts about your own web literacy and crap detection skills after doing the class activity (Quiz/ Discussion/ exploration of sites).

TASK part 2:

Create a Visual Message informing or cautioning the public (sort of like a PSA) about any of the issues from this blog post or the post on EXPERTS.

1. Pick the issue and think about how you can simply but effectively get the message across.

2. Include a call to action of some sort

Medium suggestions: Poster (analog or digital); short film or commercial; PhotoEssay, rap or song with accompanying video; art-piece (2 or 3 D)

Goal: is to be effective, informing, inspiring, and to use more visual, less text/words


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