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Basic Course Forum: Adaptation


In an era of proliferating “fake news” stories (Fisher, Cox, & Herman, 2016; Mikkelson, 2016; Rutenberg, 2016; Tavernise, 2016), and a “post-truth” political climate (Higgins, 2016; Oxford Dictionaries, 2016), the need to pair public communication and civil discourse with information literacy instruction is more important than ever. A recent study by researchers at Stanford University revealed an alarming trend among students from middle school to college: while students at various stages of their formative education may have a facility with social media use and Internet navigation, they are easily deceived when asked to determine if the information they have read online is reliable, misleading, or patently false (Donald, 2016; Stanford History Education Group, 2016; Wineburg & McGrew, 2016). According to the study authors, “Overall, young people’s ability to reason about the information on the Internet can be summed up in one word: bleak” (Stanford History Education Group, 2016, p. 1). As university teachers, we see this “bleak” assessment as a call for the basic communication course to adapt its pedagogy toward a more critical information literacy instruction and application.