Digital Polarization Initiative Updates
You Should Join Our Wiki Project or Use Our Textbook
What is the Digital Polarization Initiative? Well, that’s complex. But joining the initiative and using it to transform your class is simple.
First, our flagship project is the fact-checking wiki. Students find claims on the web — whether regarding politics or neuroscience, climate change or history — and do web research to discover the truth of the claim. Mostly True or Mostly False? Highly Likely or Highly Unlikely? They then post their work to the wiki for others to edit and improve. Harvard’s Nieman Lab website has a great article describing the process and thinking behind the approach.
If you want to join that project, you can go to digipo.io and look around. Students and faculty with a .edu email can register directly on the site and start editing and posting articles right away. Direct any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Second we have a free textbook you can use in your classroom. It’s designed so that you can use it for whatever size instruction you want. We have people who have structured months of instruction around it, and people who have used it for a couple classroom activities. Check it out!
Finally, if you are doing something in interesting in this space, let us know!
We’ve got at least five institutions using some aspect of the initiative in their courses. But we also know there are more! If you’re using some aspect of this curriculum in your classroom, please let us know. We’ll publish a complete list of participants next newsletter. Even if you are just planning to try some of this stuff out, email us!
Press Coverage and Recognition (March/April)
The project is just beginning but we’ve been getting quite a lot of recognition for our approach to the issue of information and web literacy:
- As mentioned above, Shan Wang at Harvard’s Nieman Lab wrote excellent story on our project. Of all the stuff explaining the wiki project, this is the explanation I’m most likely to send people to.
- Jon Udell’s EDUCAUSE Review article talks about the fact-checking project as well as a couple other initiatives.
- The yearly Horizon Report, an influential report which aims to showcase innovative approaches to current problems in higher education, mentioned the Digital Polarization Project as one of a few exemplar projects in the digital literacy space.
Stuff to Read That’s Pretty Interesting
Polarization is a process with much deeper causes than anything happening on the Internet. As just one example, we sort into like-minded communities in “real-life” just as much as we do on the web. And the web may not even be the most polarizing media: Ezra Klein summarizes recent research that finds demographics watching older media — talk radio and cable news — experience far more polarization than those who don’t. Still, we ask, is this where we’ll be with the web in ten years? Is it where we want to be?
If you want to do a deep dive on current theories of political polarization in representation (e.g. why our our legislators so polarized), this book chapter is a good start. It’s a U.S.-centric focus, but finds that the electorate is far less polarized on policy than their leaders. Then again, polarization may be more about affect than positions, and it’s on that dimension — partisan hate — where the country is pulling apart.
Short Exercises for Students