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Cronkite’s News Co/Lab Launches Free Online Media Literacy Course

September 2, 2020

Mediactive

Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication today announced the launch of its free online course aimed at improving digital media literacy among adults.

Enrollment in “Mediactive: How to Participate in Our Digital World” is now open to anyone with an email address through ASU’s Continuing and Professional Education.

The three-week Mediactive course, which begins Sept. 13, is based on basic principles that help people take control of their digital media experience. Through a variety of educational videos, expert interviews and interactive activities, participants will learn, among other things, how to:

• Spot misinformation
• Better understand how the news media operate
• Use media to participate in the community.

Participants can review the learning materials at their own pace, but they are also welcome to join a series of live conversations with the course team and guests during the three-week course. Guests include Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales; Harlo Holmes, director of newsroom digital security at Freedom of the Press Foundation; and Anita Varma, assistant director of Journalism & Media Ethics at Santa Clara University.

The Mediactive project is part of Facebook’s $2-million investment in media literacy projects in the U.S. aimed at supporting projects that empower people to identify and seek out credible information to read and share.

“The way we consume media has fundamentally changed in the past several decades, and most of us have had to learn as we go without any training. It can feel like we’re barely keeping up,” said Kristy Roschke, managing director of the News Co/Lab.

“The Mediactive course provides accessible and tangible information people can use in their daily media use, which is especially critical as we’re facing unprecedented challenges in the U.S. and globally. Our goal is to help people more confidently use media to make important decisions ahead of the November 2020 election and beyond.”

A unique feature of the course is its use of an adaptive learning platform from Cogbooks, an educational technology company. The platform personalizes participants’ learning experience based on their pre-existing knowledge and interest. This enables participants to go deeper on topics that are more complex or engaging for them.

“We have access to more information than ever before, but that can actually make it harder to sort out what we can trust,” said Dan Gillmor, co-founder of the News Co/Lab. “Everyone could use some help becoming more active media users — as consumers and creators — in our complex media ecosystem. Facebook’s support for the project allows us to reach a broad adult audience with our course.”

The course was developed and will be taught by the Cronkite News Co/Lab team of Gillmor, Roschke, Editor Celeste Sepessy and recent Cronkite graduate Quinlyn Shaughnessy.

"The ability to seek out and identify credible information is more important now than ever," said Cronkite Interim Dean Kristin Gilger. "Our hope is that this free, online course will help large numbers of people become smarter consumers of news and information and more informed citizens."