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American Library Association Updates Its CRAAP Test for Spotting Fake News

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In an age when dubious “news” stories spread on social media like viruses, the importance of spotting bogus sources is more relevant than ever. But the American Library Association (ALA) has been using its own BS-detecting system for years, and its name is hard to forget.

The CRAAP test consists of five criteria: currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose [PDF]. Sarah Blakeslee of the University of California at Chico's Meriam Library developed the standard as a way for students and teachers to evaluate sources with a skeptical eye. The tool is especially helpful when conducting research on the internet, where unsubstantiated blog posts show up in a Google search beside peer-reviewed studies.

But there’s one portion of the test that’s recently required a second look. According to The Huffington Post, the ALA has updated its guidelines so that the “authority” checkmark now calls for greater scrutiny. “We talk differently about authority [now],” ALA president Julie Todaro told The Huffington Post. “And we talk about credentials in a different way. We talk about going beyond a title that someone has.”

That means not blindly trusting every story posted on social media by someone from a verified account. Look at the author of the article that’s been shared, and the authors of the sources that article cites, if any. And remember that just because an author is educated and prolific that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re trustworthy. “Authority is contextual,” a CRAAP guide put out by the Gumberg Library at Duquesne University states. “Having a Ph.D. in Astronomy would not give someone authority to write about the impact of music therapy on children who have autism. The expertise or experience needs to be relevant to the topic.”

After gauging the validity of your source, do the same for the other four markers. If the information has authority but lacks currency, relevance, accuracy, or purpose, it’s probably not worth citing in an academic essay (or tweeting out to your followers).

[h/t The Huffington Post]

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Tulane University Offers Free Semester to Students Affected by Hurricane Maria
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As Puerto Rico continues to assess the damage left by Hurricane Maria last month, one American institution is offering displaced residents some long-term hope. Tulane University in New Orleans is waiving next semester’s tuition fees for students enrolled at Puerto Rican colleges prior to the storm, Forbes reports.

From now until November 1, students whose studies were disrupted by Maria can apply for one of the limited spots still open for Tulane’s spring semester. And while guests won’t be required to pay Tulane's fees, they will still be asked to pay tuition to their home universities as Puerto Rico rebuilds. Students from other islands recovering from this year’s hurricane season, like St. Martin and the U.S. Virgin Islands, are also welcome to submit applications.

Tulane knows all too well the importance of community support in the wake of disaster. The campus was closed for all of the 2005 fall semester as New Orleans dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. During that time, schools around the world opened their doors to Tulane students who were displaced. The university wrote in a blog post, “It’s now our turn to pay it forward and assist students in need.”

Students looking to study as guests at Tulane this spring can fill out this form to apply.

[h/t Forbes]

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Pablo, a Groundbreaking New BBC Series, Teaches Kids About Autism
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Autism spectrum disorder affects one in 68 kids in the U.S., but there’s still a lot of confusion surrounding the nature of the condition and what it feels like to have it. As BuzzFeed reports, a new British children’s program aims to teach viewers about autism while showing kids on the spectrum characters and stories to which they can relate.

Pablo, which premiered on the BBC’s kids’ network CBeebies earlier this month, follows a 5-year-old boy as he navigates life with autism. The show uses two mediums: At the start of an episode, Pablo is played by a live actor and faces everyday scenarios, like feeling overstimulated by a noisy birthday party. When he’s working out the conflict in his head, Pablo is depicted as an animated doodle accompanied by animal friends like Noa the dinosaur and Llama the llama.

Each character illustrates a different facet of autism spectrum disorder: Noa loves problem-solving but has trouble reading facial expression, while Llama notices small details and likes repeating words she hears. On top of demonstrating the diversity of autism onscreen, the show depends on individuals with autism behind the scenes as well. Writers with autism contribute to the scripts and all of the characters are voiced by people with autism.

“It’s more than television,” the show’s creator Gráinne McGuinness said in a short documentary about the series. “It’s a movement that seeks to build awareness internationally about what it might be like to see the world from the perspective of someone with autism.”

Pablo can be watched in the UK on CBeebies or globally on the network's website.

[h/t BuzzFeed]

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