How Digital Media Literacy Training Can Help Bring Conversations Together
Since February, Poynter’s first social initiative in digital media education MediaWise launched a micro learning course in four languages around the world. The course is designed to help people become more critical consumers of the vast amount of information they see and share online. With the support of Meta, citizens of Brazil, France, Spain and Turkey opt for this free course to improve their ability to find reliable sources and identify misinformation on the internet and social media.
The 10-day course, based on the success of MediaWise digital training first for Americans over 50, teaches participants how to spot misinformation and interact responsibly with online content. Daily lessons are sent directly to participants via WhatsApp. Eminent personalities from trusted sources in each country guide users tthrough localized curricula MediaWise Ambassadors and share their expertise to promote the exchange of factual information. In less than five minutes a day, participants can better understand what to do when they encounter suspicious or misleading information on the Internet.
Next week, hundreds of creators, consumers and champions of factual reporting will come together at the ninth edition Global fact fact-checking summit in Oslo, Norway to discuss solutions that address disinformation globally, including MediaWise’s international digital media education efforts.
I spoke with Brittani Kollar, Head of International Training for MediaWise, to learn more about the course and how everyone – journalists, fact checkers and citizens – can do their part to curb the spread of misinformation wherever he lives.
Sara: You oversee the launch of MediaWise programs that help people around the world be more careful online. It requires you to be at the center of the global misinformation problem. What do you see?
Brittani: Disinformators are getting more and more creative with how they use technology to push disinformation campaigns and influence some kind of behavior. This can range from algorithms that lead consumers to faulty health products to manipulated images and videos used out of context. This is particularly problematic when the lies intentionally fuel polarization or undermine the principles of institutions designed to protect people – like democracy. It’s easy to see how people become more divided and slide into an “us versus them” mentality. But, there is a real hungry for civil discussion and just being able to connect with each other as humans. Digital media literacy can pave the way for people to come together and have open, honest and thoughtful conversations.
Brittani: It starts with knowing how to identify misinformation. When MediaWise launched in 2018our partners at the Stanford History Education Group have developed three questions to ask when you want to verify a claim:
- Who is behind the information?
- What is the proof?
- What do other sources say?
SHEG’s three questions lay a solid foundation for people to develop the savvy skills needed to discern fact from fiction. The course encourages people to take time to pause and think critically. We cover everything from recognizing image manipulation and foiled algorithms to verifying credentials and having authentic conversations with friends and family who share misinformation online. Above all, it is important to take a moment to consider how the information in question, whether true or false, might affect you or those close to you who interact with your posts.
Sara: What kind of responses do you hear from participants?
Brittani: The course is designed to be interactive. Participants must answer daily questions to ensure they continue to receive lessons. Some people also choose to share their feedback about the experience. Most of the posts were expressions of gratitude for teaching them something new and ultimately helping them avoid the harms of misinformation. A person in Brazil said tools for detecting misinformation bring extreme value to everyday life as the world becomes increasingly connected. Someone in Turkey sent a row of congratulatory emojis with a note that everyone should take this training. My favorites are those who say they look forward to tomorrow’s lesson.
Sarah: MediaWise is heading to GlobalFact 9 to lead and listen to important conversations about digital media literacy with the international fact-checking community. What are the topics of discussion?
Brittani: We look forward to being part of the media literacy track at GlobalFact 9. Anyone interested in bridging the digital divide created by viral disinformation is welcome to join the discussion and share their insights. We will meet with members of the global fact-checking community and its supporters to better understand how we can collaborate to reach key audiences using local technology and efforts, work with regional education systems to employ media education in schools, and more. Together we will explore the innovation, programs and partnerships that will shape the future of digital media education.
Visit poynter.org/mediawise/international to learn more about MediaWise’s international digital media education efforts and to register for a course. Follow @MediaWise on all social media platforms for more advice on online fact-checking virus claims.