Why we check the facts

We are constantly bombarded with headlines that claim to reveal the latest breakthroughs, trends, and innovations in technology. But how often do we stop and question the validity, accuracy, and relevance of these headlines? How often do we dig deeper and look for the evidence, the context, and the implications of these claims?

Yellow Journalism

Clickbait is now considered by many to be ‘yellow journalism’, a term coined in the 19th century, based on a comic strip called ‘Yellow Kid’. During this period papers prioritised sensationalism over facts in order to drive circulation.

Tech headlines bombard any active person, they range from promises of edtech revolutions, AI (Artificial Intelligence) overlordship, get rich schemes and cautionary hyperbole around the perils of screentime. While they are excellent at capturing attention, they oversimplify complex issues and present a highly distorted and narrow apertured view of the issues. True understanding requires delving beyond the catchy and sensational narratives and truly scrutinising the context, content, and implications of the text.

Clickbait titles play heavily on people’s confirmation biases and r. We therefore must acknowledge the inherent bias of clickbait headlines and understand they are crafted to grab attention, not to illuminate reality. A brief browse on platforms such as LinkedIn and you will see numerous professionals reposting what claims to be a ground breaking article reporting on studies. With post captions such as ‘Ah yes, I have been saying this for years’ or ‘this just proves my point.’ But the briefest comparison of the article and original study shows the article content and conclusion to be a misrepresentation of the studies at best. Flourished with a terribly inaccurate but enticing headline. Rarely do clickbait titles capture the true nuance of the story it attempts to write about.

Kids learn better on paper

A recent article shared within our team, advocated for a shift in our digital approach. This prompted some of us investigate beyond the headline and explore its implications and the report the article was based on.

A groundbreaking study shows kids learn better on paper, not screens. Now what?

This article was shared a great deal on LinkedIn with businesses and educators alike claiming ‘we were way ahead of the curve on this’, ‘Huh, go figure’, ‘I am not surprised by the findings. The team read both the article and the report Middle-schoolers’ reading and processing depth in response to digital and print media: An N400 study by which the article is based on. Even on a quick skim of both article and report it was clear it was not as cut and dry as the headline made out. The basis of the article states that digital reading is lowering school age children’s reading comprehension referencing a study, which the news article author John R MacArthur himself funded. MacArthur is also critical of tech companies that sell technology to education districts. The report written by Karen Froud which MacArthur backbones his article concludes that it

“It is too early to generate a set of recommendations for adaptation in the classroom …. we should not yet throw away printed books and that despite believing that printed books should not be thrown away digital reading should not be dismissed”. 

Furthermore Froud emphasises the benefit of digital reading to children with disabilities a fact and important point MacArthur neglected to mention. Therefore many of the claims perpetuated in the article and the stark headline are not necessarily the claims produced in the study.

Tech Headlines

That article is just one example of why it is key to go behind sensationalised ‘tech headlines’, as they create false expectations, excitement and fear among the public, policymakers, and teachers. They can also distract us from the challenges, opportunities, and solutions that technology can offer. This means being critical, curious, and informed. Looking for the sources, methods, and data behind the claims, applying our own judgement, values, and goals to decide how to use technology most effectively.

With the increasingly integral role technology plays in education, administrators and policymakers must cultivate a mindset which transcends surface level narratives that are perpetuated by sensational headlines. This intellectual vigilance promotes not only deeper understanding of technological trends but also ensures informed decision-making that aligns with the needs of the educational sector. The pervasive nature of technology in education demands an even greater need for a deeper and more conscious study of articles, claims and papers. It is imperative educators hone critical thinking skills and approach headlines with great care and a discerning eye. Decisions, especially around education, must be grounded in evidence, research, and a holistic understanding of the issues at hand. By doing this, educators can safeguard against the pitfalls of blindly following technological trends, clickbait hype, and thus maintain robust pedagogical standards.


Finally, we must apply the lens of critical thinking to ourselves. Are we so eager to be part of the digital conversation that we sacrifice our own judgment in the rush to retweet and repost? The loudest voice does not correlate to the wisest. It is important to question our own assumptions and consider the long-term implications of the narratives we choose to amplify. At Jisc, we strive to look beyond the headlines and understand the facts before acting on them. We are committed to providing our members with reliable, relevant, and trusted advice on technology. By going behind the “tech headlines”, we help our members make informed decisions and achieve positive outcomes with technology.

We would welcome your thoughts or comments please contact us on







By Owen Buckley

IT Graduate, Jisc

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