Testing if it is: Credible, Relevant, Authoritative, Accurate, has Purpose
It seems to be coming from everywhere, these days: a mind-bending proliferation of so-called fake news, spread like wildfire over the Internet and social media.
Such intentional disinformation can be especially damaging to vulnerable populations such as minorities, non-majority religious groups, immigrants and various marginalized populations. With what seems to be increasing frequency, it is being used to reinforce stereotypes, misrepresent cultures and belief systems and seed divisiveness.
But Daytona State College’s force of librarians has been helping students dig through all the CRAAP in order to get to the truth, for years.
No crudeness intended here. CRAAP is a time-tested process to evaluate the validity of just about any information source, especially those found on the Internet. There’s even a song about it. And while its origins are in academia, the CRAAP test is a useful tool that can help anyone decipher truth from fiction in any forum.
“The idea of using what we do as librarians to help fight fake news is part of our mission to promote information literacy,” said DSC Librarian Dustin Weeks. “The CRAAP test has been around for a long time. Our instructors know it well and use it to help students find and evaluate information that is reliable and credible.”
The CRAAP test was first developed years ago by librarians at California State University who wanted to help students successfully find and evaluate sources for their research. And while the test has seen many variations over the years, by and large, if a source of information is totally CRAAP, that’s good because it means it’s “credible, relevant, authoritative, accurate and has purpose.”
“These are the types of things you want to check for, regardless of whether your source is a book, an article, a website, a blog or a social media post,” said Cheryl Kohen, DSC’s technology services librarian.
DSC librarians teach a one-credit hour online course called Introduction to Internet Research, which is essentially everything you need to know about the CRAAP test and more, Kohen added. The course uses a statewide curriculum adopted by all 28 institutions in the Florida College System and customized to fit each institution’s focus.
DSC also helps assure new students’ success by teaching the CRAAP test in its required Student Life Skills course for beginning associate of arts students.
Daytona State librarians have created their own resource tools, as well. These are web-based InfoGuides on wide-ranging topics and academic disciplines that contain valid articles and Internet sources. “We link to sources that will give you credible information,” Kohen said, noting that the guides mitigate some challenges students face in a digital world where disinformation can be propagated so readily.
“Information literacy has always been important,” Kohen said, “but especially today, it’s critical for students, and people in general, to be aware of their sources and to fact check the credibility of the information they’re receiving.”