The Facts4All – Schools as community hubs against disinformation is a one year project co-funded by the European Commission's Media Literacy for All Programme project, which aims to increase awareness and critical thinking in relation to online disinformation across generations – in particular young people and their (grand)parents.
Nowadays, internet users can access seemingly endless amounts of online content within seconds, including through hand-held devices anywhere they go. The issue of disinformation has taken an increasingly prominent role on the EU policy agenda, as illustrated in the Digital Single Market Strategy Communication - Tackling online disinformation: a European Approach (April 2018).
Because of the growing relevance of fake news, echo chambers, filter bubbles as well as a number of well-known and emerging online risks and challenges, it is no longer enough to teach individuals operational skills or how to protect their privacy or reputation online. Instead, users need to equally be aware of the mechanism through which (social) media platforms target and circulate information, of the potential presence of hostile actors, including trolls.
The new role of (social) media requires a new approach to the teaching of social media literacy, targeting, on the one hand, the ability to think critically and assess the trustworthiness of information shared through social media, and on the other hand to act responsibly when creating and sharing information online. This requires knowledge of how digital media works and how online media messages are produced, shared and disseminated.
How Facts4All will tackle disinformation?
The main project objective is to raise awareness and critical thinking of online disinformation by developing, pilot testing and launching a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that enables primary and secondary schools to act as intergenerational learning hubs against disinformation through community engagement.
The MOOC will be based on intergenerational collaborative learning scenarios, leveraging existing tools and resources such as fact checkers, repositories, games, awareness materials etc., and employing participatory methods (open space technologies and co-design jams), to foster critical thinking and active citizenship across borders.
The expected result of the project is to develop and implement effective whole-school approaches in response to societal challenges and disinformation of relevance to their local community which especially in times of the COVID19 pandemic is inevitable.
- Support all citizens, including pupils and their (grand)parents, but also a wider range of local community members, to develop critical thinking competences and to access information and participation tools.
- Foster intergenerational collaborative (online) learning and bidirectional mentoring activities, tackling both the technical and functional/cultural gap.
- Go beyond unidirectional mentoring schema and traditional community-based volunteering programs to support collaborative intergenerational (online) learning.
- Leverage the potential of schools as hubs for intergenerational (online) learning on disinformation and active citizenship for local communities.
As a result, MOOC participants, and, in a second step, their students and wider school community will learn to:
- understand which issues in relation to disinformation are important in their community;
- identify disinformation online and understand what it is, and which methods and mechanisms are used to create, distribute and amplify disinformation via the internet;
- recognise how mis- and disinformation inevitably skews and polarises the public debate, both offline and online;
- explore and embrace the more active usage of social media tools, particularly opportunities for collaboration and content creation on social media platforms;
- adopt a participatory community-based and intergenerational approach, tailored to the needs of the local school community and reaching out to stakeholders such as local policy makers;
- test and apply specific tools, including examples for current issues important in their community and for different specific social media platforms, to understand their mechanisms etc;
- bring the local community together on a divisive issue, in trying to make a positive difference to society.
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