In our last EdTech Tip we discussed how we approach fact checking in the digital age.
One of the keys to fact checking is to put the onus on the writer: document your sources. This saves the fact checker time, and it has an added benefit—it makes it easier to detect plagiarism.
Plagiarism is not necessarily something done by evil people. In fact, plagiarism can be inadvertent. In one project, we had a sharp editor who found some factual mistakes the writer had made. The editor replaced the errors with correct facts from the sources cited by the writer. The irony of the story: when the editor fixed the errors, it made the work much closer in look and feel to the fact-checking sources. This was later identified as plagiarism at the QC (quality control) stage of the project. Plagiarism was certainly not the editor’s intent; she was just fixing the manuscript. We all learned a bit from that experience.
How has technology changed how we handle plagiarism? Let me count the ways:
When educational content goes digital, there is a tendency to pick up and adapt processes that were used for print.
Often that works well, but shifts in thinking are usually needed. When it comes to fact checking print products, for example, we assumed that if a fact was correct when published, it would not be considered an egregious error two years later. People assumed it would be updated in the next edition. But our standards have to change, because people expect digital programs to be updated continuously.
One approach is to avoid facts altogether! But that is hard to do given the recent trend toward authentic learning.
Here are some tips on adapting fact-checking procedures for digital products. For more detail, see the Fact-Checking Guidelines that follow.
5 Tips for Fact-Checking
1. Dig inside the interactives.
In a digital program, a fact can be buried in a hint or an interactive graph. Interactive digital products tend to be nonlinear, so just finding the facts can be time-consuming. And when data change interactively, the number of facts can be rather large.
One way to expedite fact checking is to track facts using metadata. This saves time for everyone because all the information is in one place. Continue reading →
I once worked for an editorial director who held us to a very high standard: If even one student could misinterpret our text, then it was unclear. We went back and forth as to whether this was a realistic goal, but it certainly improved our products. I often think back to it when we direct programmers or designers to make changes. If we are not very clear, it is almost guaranteed we will not get what we (thought we) asked for.
One way to make feedback more clear is to use pictures. These can be screen captures, which are simply snapshots of your computer screen. You can use mark-up software to comment directly on a screen capture, ensuring that you and your team are always “on the same page.”
An even better way to be clear is to say it with video. Static images alone cannot tell the whole story, especially when there is interactivity.
A screencast is a video made by capturing the action on your computer screen. I used the screencast below to send feedback to programmers. In this case, we had user feedback that the graph data could not be seen behind the timeline events. Our tech team came up with a nice solution, but it had a bug.
…you can drop an image into a search box and find that image on the Internet?
Image Search is a powerful tool in EdTech. Here are a few of your options:
https://www.google.com/imghp To get here fast, google “Image.” Not surprisingly, Google Images comes up as the first link. TIP: If Chrome is your browser of choice, save time by right-clicking on an image: