Confirmation Bias in Digital Resources

ISTE standard 7a – to inspire and encourage educators and students to use technology for civic engagement and to address challenges to improve their communities. 

Civic engagement and community involvement require young adults to understand diversity, cultural understanding, and global awareness by using technology and digital communication tools to tackle and challenge issues in the community. Digital resources offer different lenses and varieties of perspectives for individuals to select and consume information. How can we help students to develop vastly different understandings of the basic facts of a digital information? How can we confront confirmation bias in digital age?  

Bias is a tendency to believe that some people or ideas are better than others, which often results in treating some people unfairly. According to Nickerson (1998), confirmation bias is the term is typically used in the psychological literature, “connotes the seeking or interpreting of evidence in ways that are partial to existing beliefs, expectations, or a hypothesis in hand”. Nickerson(1998) also explained that when confirmation bias in action, an individual thinks they know something, they are satisfied by an explanation that confirms their belief, without necessarily considering all possible other explanations, and regardless of the veracity of this information. Therefore, confirmation bias is affected by our implicit biases and it can block individuals from the gaining correct information about current events happening around the community and the world.  

Don't let confirmation bias narrow your perspective — News Literacy Project

One example from Caitlin Dewey (2015), a Washington Post journalist, “Facebook user showed a photo of a protest at an Islamic education center in Dearborn, Mich., and he claimed that it was a photo of a pro-ISIS protest. In fact, it was from a peace rally that that Islamic center holds every year, and even though we were able to very clearly document that that’s what it was, that it happened every year, that it had been covered in local paper and things like that, that photo still continued to spread on Facebook with this misinformation that it was a pro-ISIS rally.”  

“Particularly social media, bias enters through the backdoor of design optimization in which the humans who create the algorithms and hidden from view.” (Ruha, 2019, 5-6) It is important to raise internet users’ awareness of their confirmation bias. Key to this is to help them understand their own implicit bias and to question whether information should be trusted or not.  

In the article of “How to Detect Bias in News Media”, it lists strategies to challenge confirmation bias in news media by asking ourselves questions:  

  • Who are the sources? Political perspective of the sources used in a story often tend to serve as megaphones for those in power.  
  • Is there a lack of diversity? Did the media reflect the diversity of the community they sever?  
  • Whose point of view is the news reported? Did the people evolve in the issue have their voice in the media?  
  • Are these double standards? Search for parallel example or similar stories that were reported differently.  
  • Do stereotypes skew coverage? Did the article or news involve in stereotypes and characterize individuals unfairly? 
  • Who are the sources? Political perspective of the sources used in a story often tend to serve as megaphones for those in power.  
  • Is there a lack of diversity? Did the media reflect the diversity of the community they sever?  
  • Whose point of view is the news reported? Did the people evolve in the issue have their voice in the media?  
  • Are these double standards? Search for parallel example or similar stories that were reported differently.  
  • Do stereotypes skew coverage? Did the article or news involve in stereotypes and characterize individuals unfairly? 

Media sources have tremendous power in influencing young people’s belief or perspectives toward their community and individuals in their community. Confirmation bias is especially harmful while individuals are not aware of their implicit bias and lack of reflection to examine the bias in digital sources. Educators should use the reflection questions to help our students establish conscious attitudes and beliefs to challenge bias in the digital age. It is an important step working toward for civic engagement and to address challenges to improve our communities. 



Nickerson, R.S. (1998). Confirmation Bias: A Ubiquitous Phenomenon in Many Guises. Review of General Psychology, 2, 175 – 220. 

Ruha Benjamin, “Introduction,” Race after Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code (Medford, MA: Polity, 2019), 1-32 

Digital Privacy and Responsibility in Middle School Students

The concept of privacy in students while they establish their personal identify in the digital community is critically important in digital citizenship education. In this post, I am focusing on ISTE standard 7d with my question why is important to help educator, leaders and students to make informed decisions to protect their personal data and curate the digital profile they intend to reflect.  

According to Ribble and Miller (2013), the current gap in technology knowledge and lack of leadership preparation related to digital literacy and citizenship for school environment can cause serious problems. Digital citizenship is a concern for educators, school leader and parents. Educators realized the urgence to prepare our students, especially secondary students for a digital future that is safe, healthy, and effective, and the need to help students to take caution on their personal data and information use. The reason I am focusing on the study for secondary students because they are in a transition stage which owns more control and access to technology compare to elementary school students but have less training, experience, and maturity compare to higher education students. Secondary students, especially middle school students have showed high percentage in online risky behaviors (Martin &Wang, 2018).  

During the study of Middle School Students’ Social Media Use by Martin and Wang (2018), middle school students have not fully established the awareness and capabilities to protect themselves and they also try to keep social information from their parents and teachers. One of the data demonstrated their willingness to accept friend request from unknow people was 40%.  It shows that security education for middle school students is a concern and need to be addressed in digital citizenship education.  

“Avital part of growing up is forming our identity. Identity is often reflected as how you perceive yourself as well as how other perceive you.”(Martin, 2018, p215) Students navigate websites and use different social medias, they post their pictures, their preferences, their location or their personal life to establish their identity. They are not aware that their actions online if not easily anonymous when they are offline, and they need to take responsibility of their online actions in real life. Cyber bullying and online harassment often are the results of irresponsible online behaviors that can lead to depression and even suicide in real life.  

Digital privacy is where the boundaries are when sharing information about oneself and others online. The process of creating log in accounts, usernames and passwords is another way to establish an identity online. Students need to learn how to create strong passwords and protect their private information on their user accounts, such as address, phone number, or financial information. Educators need to consider including concept of identity theft, data theft online scams into curriculums just like how we teach young children not to accept food from strangers or get into stranger’s cars to protect themselves from harm.  

In the ISTE blog, it is recommended that teaching digital responsibility and concept of privacy and digital identity should start early. It is not just for secondary students and it needs to be built into a curriculum with scope and sequence since kindergarten to ensure they are well papered to be safe and take responsibility to create a safe and secure digital environment for others as well.  

School leaders and educators must become aware and begin addressing the need to help students to understand the concept of privacy when they establish identify online to prepare them to be responsible adults in the digital age.  


Martin, F., Wang, C., Petty, T., Wang, W., & Wilkins, P. (2018). Middle School Students’ Social Media Use. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 21(1), 213-224. Retrieved October 2, 2020, from 

Ribble,M., Northern Miller, T.,, “Educational Leadership in an Online World: Connecting Students to Technology Responsibly, Safely, and Ethically,” Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17:1 (2013): 137-45 

Zumpano,N. (2019). 5 things students should do to stay safe and secure online. Retrieved from

Accountability of Online Schools

Monday's big online return to Georgia schools needed tech support - Georgia  Recorder

Despite the fear from Merton (2012) that technology was becoming an autonomous and destructive force, technology has implemented a new form of learning in education and online school has become a choice for many districts and students. While families and students make their decision to enroll into online school, accountability has been my concern in this new wave. While my earliest focus about accountability was developed around how students are held accountable for their engagement and participation in digital education, I began to reflect on the accountability of schools in providing and implementing quality online education to students from K-12. Therefore, I decided to investigate accountability system and measurement of online schools for K-12 students. 

Online learning requires teacher deliver content and instruction through the internet and students learn and demonstrate their academic performance through internet. According to the research from the National Charter School Resource Center, there are 32 states in the U.S offers fully online school which students are not required to attend classes in physical space in 2012-2013 serving an estimated 310,000 students. Some schools offer partial online supplemental program for enrichment purpose or blended-learning model to combine online and face-to-face instruction mixed.  

Watson and Pape (2015) raised the concerns that online schools are held accountable for students learning outcome and being measured based of grade-level proficiency in reading and math and graduation rates in the state accountability system like traditional schools without taking their high mobility student population into account.  

Watson and Pape (2015) argued that online learning and online schools represent as an alternative way for many students due to its flexible nature. Students who chose to attend online schools are accelerated students, at-risk students, students with extenuating life circumstances, students with medical issue, previously homeschooled students, or students who are seeking additional program with dual enrollment. High percentage of family consider online school as short-term plan. Many students transfer back to traditional school as soon as their life situation get resolved. The belief that “learning by apprenticeship can work only in the nearness of classroom and laboratory; never in cyberspace” (Dreyfus, 2014, p646) plays an important role in many families’ decision to go back to traditional school. These student population contributed a high mobility rate for online schools.  

Why Families Choose Online School

However, state accountability system does not address the reality of situation. For example, students who enrolled in online school but leaves prior to graduating. Watson and Pape (2015) recommended to create a different framework can align with online schools and reflect the students they sever. Measuring online school accountability should focus on student growth during online school enrollment to ensure that schools are held accountable for advancing students during their time at the school, even though it is a very short stop along their educational path. 

The research clearly shows that the current accountability system does not acknowledge or track student mobility nor reflect the quality of student learning experience. While many schools are currently moving to online learning or a blended model with a portion of face to face instruction due to pandemic, should leaders and policy makers review and facilitate change to our current accountability system for schools with remote learning? Without an effective accountability measurement system for schools, it is challenging for educators to set expectation and hold students accountable in online learning.  


Albert Borgmann, “Contemplation in a Technological Era: Learning from Thomas Merton,” Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 64:1 (2012): 3-10. Retrieved from

Locke, G., Ableidinger, J,. Hassel, B., Barrett, S., (2014) “Virtual Schools: Assessing Progress and Accountability Final Report of Study Findings” American Institutes for Research. Retrieved from

Hubert Dreyfus, “Anonymity versus Commitment: The Dangers of Education on the Internet,” Philosophy of Technology, 641-47. Retrieved from

Watson, J., Pape, L. (2015). School Accountability in the Digital Age. Retrieved from

Teacher – Student Relationship in Remote Learning

Teacher – student relationship holds the key to successful learning and teaching in the classroom. As schools are moving forward with remote learning in this new school year, positive relationship forms the heart as the mindframes of remote learning (Fisher et al., 2020)  

Relationship building is an ongoing practice and is sharpened by experience and context. Fisher et al. (2002) suggested some of the approaches to guide educators to the door of students.       

Teacher empathy— understanding 

Teacher should make themselves available by establishing office hours to offer students’ academic support and families for connection building. Teacher should also create lessons with positive feedback and affirmation.  

Unconditional positive regard—warmth 

Teachers should provide opportunity for students to share and opportunity to teachers to learn about students through surveys and talking circles. Teachers should use voice feedback and not just limited to writing text.  

Genuineness—the teacher’s self-awareness 

Teachers are aware of their presentation and should maintain their professionalism when they meet students through online meeting.  

Nondirectivity—student-initiated and student-regulated activities 

Teachers should build personal connection with students through induvial conversation and help them identify their strengths and set up goals. Teachers should share decision-making process with students about curriculum and invite student feedback to   

Encouragement of critical thinking as opposed to traditional memory emphasis 

Teachers should integrate peer discussion during online lessons using open ended questions and give students opportunity to share their thinking with others.  

In many schools, pandemic has shifted from face to face teaching to a remote learning model this year. Teacher and students are relying on technology to stay connected and build relationship. Teacher should always reflect on “how can I let the students know I care about them and I am here for them”. 

Fisher, D., Frey, N., Hattie, J. (2020). The Distance Learning Playbook, Grades K-12. Retrieved from