Context/background of project:
In the 21st century,with the invasion of smartphones and computers, the use of internet and the spread of information became a public activity, as opposed to its more limited use in the end decades of the 20th century. While this technological jump has allowed access to the masses and has given birth to tremendous achievements for mankind, it also has created a huge gap in relevant education, meaning that people have gained the means to obtain information without having any education on how to filter it and how to distinguish a media source between professional and amateur, provable news or rumor engine or even more spread due to malicious intents.
In order to understand the exact context of this project, one must first be acquainted with the terms of Internet Misinformation, Fake News, Critical and Analytic Thinking and Social Media Literacy. Internet Misinformation, according to M.A.Fitzgerald is “the amount of misinformation occurring online is only a matter of speculation, yet the number of identified types include incomplete information, pranks, contradictions, outdated information, improperly translated data, software incompatibilities, unauthorized revisions, factual errors, biased information, and scholarly misconduct.”
Fake News according to Arhipelag XXI Press (2018) is tackled by Wardle and Derakhshan, who name it as information disorder and categorize as misinformation when false information is shared, but no harm is meant, dis-information is when false information is knowingly shared to cause harm and mal-information when genuine information is shared to cause harm,often by moving information designed to stay private into the public sphere.
Critical thinking is the ability to analyze information objectively and make a reasoned judgment, whereas analytical thinking is the critical component of visual thinking that gives one the ability to solve problems quickly and effectively, involving a methodical step-by-step approach to thinking that allows you to break down complex problems into single and manageable components, requiring the comparison of sets of data from different sources; identify possible cause and effect patterns, and draw appropriate conclusions from these data sets in order to arrive at appropriate solutions. Social Media Literacy is a specific set of technical,cognitive and emotional competencies that are required when using social media to search for information, for communication, content creation and for problem-avoiding and problem-solving, both in both professional and social contexts.
Having understood these definitions, one can begin to understand the negative effects of Internet Misinformation and Fake News, and the benefits of introducing learners to Critical and Analytical Thinking and Social Media Literacy.
Description of the results:
The first result expected through this project (2 Learning/Teaching/Training events) is the professional development of the members (adult educators) of each partner organisation in Social Media Literacy as well as their critical and analytical skill development as effective means to combat Social Media Misinformation and fake news.
Then, the adult educators are expected to transfer the acquired knowledge to adults, who are our ending target group. Another result is to raise awareness on the dangers of Social Media Misinformation and fake news and empower adults to distinguish, filter information and recognize genuine information from false ones. During project time, the adult educators of our organizations will acquire multiple working practices improving their work with adults. They will acquire skills and competencies that they wouldn’t have before. The competences gained by adult educators during the project time will be transferred to the adults by utilizing the website/eLearning platform of the project (IO4).
This website/eLearning platform will be a resource of European value, regarding Social Media Literacy and critical and analytical skill development to combat Social Media Misinformation, for professionals dealing with adults. It could work as a tool for communication including the Curriculum (IO1) of the project, example lectures (IO3), discussion forums, online learning opportunities for adults on the topic of interest, and more.
To be more precise, this project will result in the production of 4 Intellectual Outputs which are:
1. Course Curriculum Structure
2. Populated Course Curriculum
3. Example Lectures
4. Project website & e-learning content
In addition, the participating organizations are expected to increase their renown and their circle of inter-European relations with the project and associated partner organizations. The participant adult trainers are expected to increase their skillset regarding the project’s fields, while the participating adults will gain knowledge regarding the issues tackled within the project and expand their horizons by interacting with adults and trainers from other European countries.