Building news savvy: Best practices
Learning to Discern
WHAT IS IT?
Learn to Discern is a media literacy education program developed in Ukraine amid a flood of fear-mongering Russian propaganda. The lessons (including a game) seek “to equip Ukrainian citizens to both identify misinformation and demand better quality information.” The critical-thinking curriculum encourages “peer learning” and can be tailored to fit different people or groups.
WHO’S BEHIND IT?
IREX is a nonprofit organization that focuses on cultivating leaders, empowering youth, strengthening institutions and increasing access to quality education and information around the world. IREX receives significant funding from the U.S. government, among other funders. After a nine-month pilot for adults, IREX is launching Learn to Discern in schools in Ukraine and developing a pilot for the United States. A prototype of the game — infiltrating a “factory of lies” to expose misinformation — is available in English.
DOES IT WORK?
More than 15,000 participated in the program’s pilot, and they shared what they learned with 90,000 more people. A related campaign warning of misinformation. reached an estimated 20 million television viewers and eight million radio listeners. (Ukraine has a population of about 44 million.) Evaluators cited a 24 percent increase in participants’ ability to identify trustworthy news and a 22 percent increase in the number of people who cross-checked information.
HOW TO DO IT
Training sessions for groups of 20 on average were held at libraries, universities and workplaces and lasted about four hours. Keys to success: Instructors customized the program to make it relevant and emphasized critical-thinking skills rather than focusing on singling out good or bad information sources. Participants also learned how to recognize and resist emotional manipulation. For a detailed description of the pilot and its results, see this report.