Our new online media literacy course is launching soon

by | Aug 31, 2020 | Blog, Mediactive

The third session of the News Co/Lab’s free, adaptive course kicks off Oct. 5. Learn more about Mediactive: How to participate in our digital world.

Could someone you know use some help in navigating our complex world of information? Understand how to sift through the avalanche of news and data that inundates us all these days? Have a better idea how to be a participant in our system of self-government by using credible information?

It seems to us at the ASU News Co/Lab that we all could use this kind of assistance. And that’s why we launched a short online course in digital media literacy. It’s called “Mediactive: How to participate in our digital world,” and it’s free for the taking.

In an earlier version, which wrapped up Aug. 21, people from around the world participated in lively discussions with one another, the course team and guests like ESPN Senior Writer Howard Bryant. One participant wrote, “Learning how media works is so important for older people who can feel left out of a busy communicating world. Like everything else we are exposed to in life, media can be handled when you’re shown how to use it, enjoy it, and let it broaden the world we live in.”

Three weeks of adaptive learning

Now, this isn’t a course in the way you may remember from high school or college. It’s a collection of solid resources we’ve created and collected, and organized to give participants a lot of value if they spend just a couple of hours a week for three weeks. And it’s hands-on — loaded with opportunities for folks to participate in what we hope will be an ongoing exploration.

Working with digital-learning specialists CogBooks, we’ve made the course “adaptive.” That means it’s designed for people to proceed at their own pace, with additional help for those who are having trouble fully understanding some of the concepts.

There are videos, readings, self-checks on how well you’ve understood the material, and conversations. And you can relax — there are no grades.

Why we’re doing this

The course stems from the work we’ve been doing at the News Co/Lab since we started it in 2017. Back then, and now, our goal was to boost the field known in academia as “media literacy” — and to do it at scale.  

At the time, we said there were three main ways in our society to achieve scale. The first is education, where media literacy has gained a foothold in recent decades but is not close to universal. We admire the people and organizations who’ve worked to bring it into more schools, and hope our work will make their jobs a bit easier, since we’re focusing more on adults who need to understand and adopt these principles and skills just as much as their children and grandchildren.

Another institution that can bring scale is the media. The News Co/Lab has worked with journalists to bring these skills to their communities. As part of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, media — especially journalism — is integral to what we do. We’re partnering with media of all kinds on this project, including Arizona PBS, which is part of the Cronkite School.

The institutions that almost define scale these days are the social media platforms. They’ve begun to see media literacy as vital to their own missions, we’re pleased to see. And we’re especially glad that one of them — Facebook — funded this project with a gift to our university.

Ready to register?

We hope you’ll take a look at our course. Registration is open for the next “live” session, starting Oct. 5, when we’ll be actively working with those who are enrolled via online conversations and, twice each week, video convenings with people like Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia. 

Feel free to stop by the Mediactive course website for a closer look at some of the key concepts. We’ll have links there to the course registration page. If you already know that you want to sign up, here’s the direct link.