News Co/Lab, America Amplified launch free online media literacy course

by | Sep 21, 2020 | Blog, Mediactive

Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication announced the latest session of its free online course aimed at improving digital media literacy among adults. The News Co/Lab is offering the course in partnership with America Amplified, a public media initiative focused on community engagement reporting around the 2020 election.

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 Oct. 5, 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, and 
  • 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 America Amplified guests during the three-week course. Guests include Kate Concannon and Nate Hegyi of the Mountain West News Bureau, discussing Nate’s 900-mile bike ride along the Continental Divide; Dave Rosenthal of Side Effects Public Media, which provides health-centered journalism; and Susanna Capelouto of WABE in Georgia and Mary Shedden of WUSF in Florida. Both stations have been engaging communities with pandemic and election coverage.

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.” 

America Amplified has been working with eight public media networks across the country to better understand what’s happening in their communities. The initiative is also hosting nationwide virtual listening sessions this fall and producing a six-week national talk show centered around the November election. Building trust in public media is one of America Amplified’s main goals and working with Mediactive helps fulfill this mission.    

“How to read and understand news sources is absolutely critical in this time when there’s an avalanche of information, and a distressing amount of bad information out there,” said Alisa Barba, senior editor at America Amplified. “We are thrilled to collaborate with ASU’s News Co/Lab to help people understand and build trust in trustworthy media sources.”  

The course was developed and will be taught by the Cronkite News Co/Lab team of Roschke, Co-founder Dan Gillmor, 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.”

For more information on “Mediactive: How to Participate in Our Digital World,”  please contact Kristy Roschke at


About the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

The Cronkite School is widely recognized as one of the nation’s premier professional journalism programs. Cronkite champions a “teaching hospital” model of journalism education in which students create professional content under the guidance of top professionals. Cronkite News, the student-powered, faculty-led news division of Arizona PBS with news bureaus in Phoenix, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, produces a daily newscast for the station. Cronkite emphasizes programs that experiment with new forms of audience engagement, digital interactivity, in-depth information gathering, revenue models and storytelling.


About America Amplified

The America Amplified initiative — based at KCUR in Kansas City, Missouri, and funded by a $1.9 million grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting — is committed to gaining a deeper understanding of America’s needs and aspirations through engaging communities. America Amplified’s goal is to create and share successful models of community engagement reporting that will inform and strengthen local, regional and national journalism.