26 Juin 2020

Media Literacy Training for Libraries: Tips and Takeaway Messages

This week, as part of the ongoing EU Media Literacy project in which IFLA is a partner, several European libraries followed an online course on hosting dedicated events that can help their communities become savvier digital citizens.

The training was organised and delivered by the senior project partner Tactical Tech. IFLA has led on engagement with libraries, bringing together several libraries from around Europe who joined the webinars as they prepared to host their own pop-up exhibitions on media literacy and misinformation.

The training covered both the practicalities of organising such an event (how to arrange a series of posters to maximise social distancing? What are some of the patron data considerations to keep in mind when organising a webinar? and more), and the subject matter at hand – online misinformation and how to best address it.

The materials prepared by Tactical Tech, together with inputs from European information professionals during the webinars, made for engaging discussion on how to deliver media literacy learning opportunities for the broader public.

Below are some insights and tips the training covered, which could be useful for any library that wants to offer media literacy awareness or skills training.

There are many forms of misinformation. The misinformation landscape is diverse – and recognising this diversity is important to properly address the challenges this poses. As a recent study on the COVID-19 ‘infodemic’ has illustrated, misinformation examples - even within a single topic - can range widely. This includes, for example, different sources (e.g. top-down or bottom-up), different motivations behind content creation (Profit? Political motivations? Satire? Other?), as well as the different types of misinformation content itself.

That’s why it can be helpful for users to understand the different types of misinformation, disinformation and other potentially misleading content they can encounter. This can include genuine content presented within a false context, impersonation of credible sources, content that includes (some) true information yet is presented in a misleading way – as well as blatantly fabricated or altered content, and more. For more information on the types of misinformation, you can take a look at sources prepared by UNESCO and First Draft.

Tailor your training to specific audience groups. From high school students to older users, different demographics and user groups may be more vulnerable or encounter particular issues with misinformation online. Knowing the challenges that different user groups in your community face can help tailor your media literacy initiatives and interventions – and adjust or pick suitable instruction methods and materials.

Tactical Tech’s Detox Kit, for example, includes a dedicated Youth edition that focuses on tips, challenges and digital skills which are relevant for children between the ages of 11 and 16.

Contextualising your examples can help. To help anchor and effectively illustrate the relevance of your media literacy initiatives, it can be helpful to show local examples of misinformation! Factcheck.eu, for example, analyses news and claims from around the European Union.

Misinformation is linked to emotions. The training highlighted that the issue of misinformation is fundamentally linked to human emotions.  The way people process information is impacted by emotions, pre-existing beliefs, attitudes and feelings – for example, our inclination to pay attention to, believe of disbelieve a piece of news we come across.

This can serve as a clue when assessing the information one comes across – does it elicit an unexpectedly strong reaction? Is it designed to?  So, for any user, addressing online misinformation can in part mean recognising and questioning the emotional responses they experience.

Tools and resources for a savvy user. Naturally, a key step of media literacy awareness and training is equipping members of your communities with practical tools and skills to detect and address misinformation. There are many investigation tips and techniques one could make use of – Tactical Tech’s own Exposing the Invisible Kit is one example.

Librarians as informational professionals have a wealth of experience assessing and checking the quality of information., and to have much to bring in building the media literacy of everyday users.

We are looking forward to seeing the skills of librarians, combined with the exhibition materials created by Tactical Tech, at work in the coming months.

Access to information, Digital inclusion, Information literacy

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