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03 April 2015 @ 09:37 am
Clickbait  
Most of us can identify the phishing emails from friends stuck overseas who have been mugged and could use some help. We delete emails telling us we have won lotteries abroad. But there are still unaware people who click on Facebook posts asking them if they can remember what this object is (and it seems to me that I am one of the generations being targeted because I DO recognize and have used some of the objects that today's younger FB members would not. Click LIKE there and they have you. It is clickbait.

Clickbait is a pejorative term describing web content that is aimed at generating online advertising revenue, especially at the expense of quality or accuracy, relying on sensationalist headlines to attract click-throughs and to encourage forwarding of the material over online social networks. Clickbait headlines typically aim to exploit the "curiosity gap", providing just enough information to make the reader curious, but not enough to satisfy their curiosity without clicking through to the linked content Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clickbait).

Here is a favorite clickbait.



I recognize it when I see it. That is mostly because my old record player required one to play those 45 rpm singles. I suspect this might not be as familiar to someone without the background I have.

And so it goes with education as well. A friend recently sent me a link to a report, published by Renaissance Learning, that concludes that individualized reading practice, as done with Accelerated Reader, is proven to increase the college and career readiness of kids. Further, they scored higher on measurements (tests) than kids who did not use AR. I am not giving the link to this yet as I want a chance to examine more than the opening pages so I can write about it without using all caps (as in OMG, WTH, NO, etc.). But I do know that the media outlets will pick this sucker up and run with it as the panacea, the magic bullet, the answer to all our prayers.

This, my colleagues, is clickbait. Create a headline like this. Add in some really lovely visuals, charts that compare the poor schmucks who did not get the AR treatment and were left in the dust of the testing, and call it research. Here is just one tiny example of the "research" this "report" cites (and I wish there were an air quote icon to use as I could use it frequently here).

__________ study found that for Tennessee teachers using Accelerated Reader, a higher volume of reading practice yielded higher test scores for students.

Guess what? NOT using AR and still providing for a higher volume of reading practice (more time to read and more time for talk maybe?) will also yield higher scores. The magic bullet is not AR. It is time to read. We know that. Practice makes, well not perfect, but it does improve skills. We. Already. Know. This.

Then, there is this assertion (and great basis for some clickbait journalism):

Currently, the research base supporting AR as a highly cost-effective program comprises 176 studies, of which there are:
• 31 experimental or quasi-experimental studies (generally considered the strongest designs)
• 27 studies published in peer-reviewed journals
• 150 studies led independently


I want to see the research. Show me the studies (and why do I hear Cuba Gooding, Jr. here?). I want to see the peer-reviewed journal studies. NOW.

Be afraid. Clickbait journalism is alive and well and gunning for your readers.
 
 
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