Thursday’s Tip: Avoiding Filter Bubbles

What’s a filter bubble? Watch the video below for some background…

As you can see from Eli Pariser’s talk, filter bubbles can really limit our exposure to different perspectives. While it would be nice if companies like Google, Facebook, etc. would eliminate such algorithms, that’s not going to happen any time soon. There are things teachers can do to combat the search bubbles their students and classes unwittingly create.

Creating a website or using a social bookmarking tool like Delicious can allow you to post links to resources that you would prefer your students to use. While this practice won’t inherently allow for a variety of perspectives to be represented, it does at least off the teacher control over the variety of resources used.

Building off of the social bookmarking idea, classes could share an account where they store all their resources. This way, students with different search results can enrich each other’s research. The same thing can also be accomplished if students have their own social bookmarking accounts and merely “friend” or follow each other. Social bookmarks can even be used as an RSS feed, sending new bookmarks to one’s RSS reader as they come.

So, there are workarounds for filter bubbles. It’s good to be aware that our preferences influence search results and that not everyone will find the same resources.

What are some ways you might overcome filter bubbles when your students conduct online research?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. A hat tip goes to Brooke Higgins for pointing out this video.

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