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Lateral Studying A Should Have Talent for All College students

13 min read

As we speak, we’re diving into a vital media literacy talent that each scholar ought to have of their toolbox—lateral studying. In our present digital panorama, unreliable info is only a click on away. With the web saturated in information that ranges from credible info to outright fabrications, it’s essential to sift via the noise and discern what’s reliable.

Based on CIVIX, “False and deceptive info is rampant on-line, and other people lack the abilities and motivation to find out what to belief.” Clearly, if we’re going to construct the subsequent era of knowledgeable residents, we’d like recent approaches to instructing digital media literacy and supply analysis.

lateral reading

Now, I don’t simply preach; I observe what I like to recommend. To make sure that you’ve gotten a well-rounded perspective on this subject, I’ve gathered info from a number of the most authoritative sources within the subject. One of many frameworks that I discover significantly helpful is the SIFT method, sourced from the Verify, Please Starter Course. I’ll delve extra into this four-step technique later within the publish.

Additionally, Michael A. Caulfield’s e-book “Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers” (obtainable free of charge) is one other invaluable useful resource that I’ve referred to. Caulfield gives a radical breakdown of what lateral studying is, why it’s a game-changer in how we eat info, and the way it may also help college students develop robust fact-checking abilities.

If you happen to’re all in favour of diving deeper into this subject, be sure that to take a look at the ‘References and Additional Readings’ part on the backside of this publish. I’ve included all the pieces from research-based on-line programs to must-read books, all geared toward enhancing your understanding and abilities on this important space.

What’s lateral studying?

Lateral studying isn’t your normal dive-deep-into-one-source form of studying; it’s extra like internet sleuthing. As a substitute of meticulously scouring a single article or useful resource for info, you’re stepping out—therefore “lateral”—to take a look at a number of sources concurrently. It’s about verifying info and assessing the credibility of an article by cross-referencing it with different, extra authoritative sources.

Lateral studying, idea and the time period because the News Literacy Project said, have been “developed from analysis carried out by the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG), led by Sam Wineburg, founder and government director of SHEG.”

In Michael Caulfield’s e-book “Web Literacy for Student Fact Checkers,” he delves into the idea of “lateral studying,” which contrasts sharply with how we historically have interaction with print media. Based on Caulfield, once we choose up a e-book or a journal article, we often have already got some context about its credibility or relevance. You realize the newspaper you’ve subscribed to, you’re conscious of the writer of the e-book you’ve picked up, otherwise you’ve chosen a journal article as a result of it’s in a good journal or cited by somebody you belief.

The net is a unique beast altogether. Whenever you land on a webpage, you’re typically clueless about its reliability or the authority of the writer. Most individuals’s intuition is to navigate via the location, possibly test the “About” web page or take a look at writer bios. Caulfield suggests that is the incorrect method for 2 causes. First, if the location is dodgy, then its personal self-description will in all probability be dodgy too. Second, even a reputable supply will naturally current itself in essentially the most favorable gentle.

So, what’s the repair? Caulfield promotes “lateral studying” as the answer. This includes stepping away from the location at hand to see what different, ideally extra respected, sources are saying about it. Lateral readers open a number of tabs and conduct searches in regards to the writer, the location’s possession, and different associated commentaries. They piece this info collectively to get a well-rounded view of the location they’re investigating.

Solely after this exterior validation do lateral readers dive deep into the unique content material. By then, they’ve received a a lot clearer sense of whether or not they can belief the knowledge introduced. They’re not simply confined to the location’s personal narrative; they’ve a broader perspective that accounts for numerous viewpoints and reputations.

In a nutshell, lateral studying is about exterior verification. It’s not merely about understanding the content material on a single web page however about understanding the place that web page sits in a wider community of data. It’s a holistic method that lends itself extremely effectively to the fragmented, complicated panorama of on-line info.

Lateral reading

The SIFT Framework

Developed within the “Check, Please! Starter Course,” this method simplifies the complicated internet of fact-checking into 4 digestible “strikes.” I significantly love how the SIFT method streamlines the method and retains it actually sensible. So, let’s unpack these strikes:


This primary transfer is all about pause and posture. The moment you land on a webpage, it tells you to STOP. Two aspects are in play right here. First, earlier than diving into the content material, ask your self: Do I do know this supply? Is it reliable? If not, cue the opposite SIFT strikes. Second, in case you really feel such as you’re spiraling down a rabbit gap whereas checking info, STOP once more. Remind your self what your goal is, recalibrate your technique, and keep away from getting overwhelmed. I’ve all the time instructed my college students, it’s a must to know when to step again to see the larger image, and this transfer actually emphasizes that.

Examine the Supply

Subsequent, we examine. However don’t fear, you don’t have to go full Sherlock Holmes. The purpose is to know what you’re about to learn earlier than you learn it. Whether or not it’s an article from a Nobel laureate or a promotional video by a enterprise, understanding the supply’s experience and agenda is paramount.

Discover Trusted Protection

Typically, you’re not involved with the supply itself, however the declare it’s making. This transfer advises you to hunt different trusted reporting or viewpoints on that declare. It’s akin to lateral studying, which we simply talked about. Let’s say an article claims {that a} sure instructing technique is revolutionary. You shouldn’t simply take their phrase for it. Jump over to different respected instructional journals or web sites to see if this declare holds water. Totally different views can supply a richer, extra nuanced understanding.

Hint Claims, Quotes, and Media Again to Unique Context

Final however not least, that is the deep-dive transfer. It’s all about tracing info again to its origin to know its full context. We’ve all seen how issues can get twisted when faraway from their authentic setting, proper? This transfer ensures you’re getting the entire story, not only a handy snippet.

Certainly, the SIFT framework is a toolkit I want extra folks had of their important considering arsenal. It’s easy, but every transfer requires a sure degree of mental engagement that, when finished constantly, can develop into second nature. I’ve discovered it significantly helpful in evaluating instructional analysis and tech instruments, the place the panorama is all the time shifting and it’s simple to get misplaced in hype and misinformation.

Lateral Studying versus Vertical Studying

Each Lateral studying and vertical studying have their deserves, however understanding when and learn how to use every is essential, particularly in a digital age the place misinformation can unfold like wildfire.

Lateral Studying

Lateral studying is like being a detective. As a substitute of digging deep right into a single supply (say, an article or an internet site), you’re hopping round a number of tabs, checking the credibility of the supply towards what different respected sources are saying. It’s a holistic method to verifying info.

Michael A. Caulfield, in his e-book “Internet Literacy for Pupil Truth-Checkers,” explains lateral studying as a vital talent, particularly when encountering unfamiliar web sites or authors. By cross-referencing with authoritative sources, you may collect a composite understanding of whether or not a website or piece of data is reliable. So, lateral studying lets you not solely validate info but additionally perceive the context, biases, and repute of the sources you’re consulting. Belief me, I’ve misplaced depend of the variety of instances lateral studying has saved me from citing an unreliable supply in my analysis.

Vertical Studying

However, vertical studying is what most of us have been taught in class. You discover a supply and skim it prime to backside, even perhaps taking notes or highlighting essential sections. Whereas this technique works nice for deep dives and thorough understanding, it’s not the perfect for fast fact-checking or supply verification. Relying solely on vertical studying leaves you susceptible to the biases, inaccuracies, and even fabrications current inside that single supply.

In relation to vertical studying, your degree of belief is usually depending on what that single supply tells you. This may be problematic, particularly if the supply has an agenda. For instance, if I have been wanting into instructional applied sciences for lecture rooms and solely learn articles from one ed-tech firm, I’d be limiting myself to a really slim perspective.

lateral reading

Why Not Each?

The 2 approaches will not be mutually unique; they’re truly complementary. As an example, after lateral studying has helped you determine a dependable supply, a deep vertical learn can supply the depth and element you want. In my very own work, I typically use lateral studying to display for credibility after which swap to a vertical method for in-depth understanding, particularly once I’m reviewing instructional instruments or diving deep into scholarly articles.

Backside line? Realizing when to make use of lateral versus vertical studying is a talent in itself—one which’s extremely essential for educators and college students alike. And hey, in case you’ve ever discovered your self on a webpage, uncertain of its credibility, give lateral studying a go. Your future self will thanks for not falling for misinformation.

Examples of lateral studying

Over time, I’ve discovered that illustrating the appliance of a concept or approach may be eye-opening. So, let’s get into some real-world examples of how you would use lateral studying to navigate the maze of data on the internet.

Instance 1: The Miracle Treatment

Let’s say you come throughout an article claiming {that a} particular pure treatment can remedy a power sickness. Now, as a substitute of taking that article at face worth or checking the ‘About Us’ part of that web site, you open a brand new tab. You hint the sources it references and also you additionally seek for medical opinions or research associated to that pure treatment. You may also look into what respected well being organizations need to say about it. That is lateral studying in motion—you’re cross-referencing the preliminary declare with a number of different sources earlier than making any conclusions.

Instance 2: Information Story on a Scorching-Button Situation

Think about you learn a information story a couple of present political difficulty, however the tone of the article appears extraordinarily biased. Don’t cease there. Open extra tabs to have a look at how a number of different information shops are masking the identical story. Evaluate the viewpoints, info, and sources cited. Doing this helps you perceive not simply the occasion but additionally the completely different views surrounding it. That is important for nuanced considering, one thing I all the time advocate for, each in and out of doors the classroom.

Last ideas

In wrapping up, I can’t emphasize sufficient how very important lateral studying is for our college students and, truthfully, for all of us on this digital age. False and deceptive info is so pervasive on-line that we owe it to ourselves and the subsequent era to develop into extra discerning digital residents. As highlighted by CIVIX, the shortage of abilities to sift via the mire of on-line info is regarding. We’ve received to vary the established order, and quick.

What I significantly recognize is the practicality of the SIFT framework from the Verify, Please Starter Course. It’s not simply theoretical; it’s actionable, providing us a step-by-step information to separate the wheat from the chaff. Equally, Michael A. Caulfield’s e-book “Internet Literacy for Pupil Truth Checkers” serves as a unbelievable useful resource.

Lateral studying isn’t a one-time factor. It’s a behavior, a mindset, and a talent that takes steady effort to domesticate. However the rewards are immense: a greater understanding of the world round us, and the power to assume critically and independently. Belief me, making lateral studying second nature is value each tab you’ll ever open.

References and additional readings

If you happen to’re eager on making the web a extra dependable place for info, or in case you’re an educator seeking to empower the subsequent era, these assets are an ideal place to start out. From programs that provide real-time updates to books that present long-lasting knowledge, there’s one thing for everybody all in favour of honing their fact-checking abilities.

On-line assets

  1. Check, Please! Starter Course: A deep dive into the SIFT framework that’s good for individuals who need an actionable information to fact-checking. This course not solely offers you the idea but additionally arms you with sensible examples to raised grasp the idea. The course frequently updates to incorporate current examples that make the educational course of ever so participating.
  2. Stanford History Education Group’s Lesson Sequence on Lateral Reading: This complete useful resource guides academics via a set of structured actions to show lateral studying. The teachings introduce college students to dependable assets for lateral studying like Wikipedia, information tales, and fact-checking web sites. The main target right here is on coaching college students to cross-verify info by checking what different web sites say a couple of supply, reasonably than taking the supply’s personal phrase for it.
  3. The Ctrl-F Project by CIVIX: Particularly designed for high-school college students however solely appropriate for early college-goers as effectively, this curriculum focuses on honing digital literacy abilities.
  4. Web Literacy for Student Fact Checkers” by Michael A. Caulfield: This e-book is a goldmine of sensible recommendation and pointers. It doesn’t simply train you about lateral studying; it empowers you to develop into a discerning reader within the digital world.
  5. Snopes: The OG of fact-checking web sites, Snopes has been debunking myths and verifying info since 1994. It’s a superb useful resource for lateral studying workout routines.
  6. Media Literacy Now: This group gives numerous assets for educators, together with curriculum guides and lesson plans.
  7. The News Literacy Project: This supplies instructional packages that train college students learn how to separate truth from fiction within the digital age.
  8. The Stanford History Education Group: They provide a free curriculum that features numerous forms of workout routines geared toward enhancing civil on-line reasoning.
  9. Critical Media Project: This platform supplies free media literacy assets and lesson plans that concentrate on ideologies, energy buildings, and social points.


The books beneath will provide help to and your college students grasp the important significance of digital literacy and fact-checking in an age the place misinformation can unfold like wildfire. I extremely suggest them to anybody all in favour of going past the floor of digital literacy.

  1. The Death of Expertise” by Tom Nichols: This one delves into how the decline of experience is affecting our means to discern info from fiction. An interesting learn that explains why instructing important digital literacy has by no means been extra essential.
  2. Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World—and Why Things Are Better Than You Think” by Hans Rosling: This e-book is a wake-up name. It offers you worthwhile insights into how our views are skewed resulting from numerous biases and the way information may also help us see the world extra clearly.
  3. Weapons of Math Destruction” by Cathy O’Neil: It gives a singular perspective on how massive information and algorithms have an effect on our means to search out dependable info. It offers you a brand new lens to judge digital information.
  4. The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption” by Clay A. Johnson: This one is a diet information, however for info. It helps you perceive the significance of consuming high-quality info and learn how to differentiate it from the low-quality bulk that’s on the market.
  5. The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You” by Eli Pariser: This e-book is all about how algorithms have an effect on the knowledge we see on-line, making it much more important to have robust fact-checking abilities.
  6. Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator” by Ryan Vacation: This one takes you behind the scenes of media manipulation, from the angle of somebody who’s finished it. It’s eye-opening and makes you assume twice in regards to the info we eat.
  7. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World” by Cal Newport: This e-book may also help you declutter your digital life, which, consider it or not, can enhance your means to concentrate on dependable sources and ignore the remaining.
  8. The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads” by Tim Wu: This e-book gives insights into how your consideration is being purchased and offered on-line. Realizing how the ‘consideration economic system’ works may be useful while you’re attempting to filter out irrelevant or deceptive info.
  9. Calling Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World” by Carl T. Bergstrom and Jevin D. West: That is an all-encompassing information to important considering within the age of misinformation and faux information.
  10. Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism” by Safiya Umoja Noble: This e-book is a must-read in case you’re all in favour of understanding how digital platforms can perpetuate systemic inequalities. It discusses how algorithms in serps can reinforce racist and sexist beliefs, which makes it extremely related for anybody dedicated to digital literacy and accountable fact-checking.If you happen to’re searching for books that transcend the ‘how-tos’ of fact-checking and delve into the socio-political implications of digital literacy, “Algorithms of Oppression” is your go-to. This e-book enhances the record by including a layer of social consciousness to the technical abilities lined within the different suggestions.
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