This course is exclusively for students of the Minor Disinformation and Strategic Communication in Global Media.
Digital content creators use increasingly sophisticated techniques to disseminate misinformation, the goal of which is to erode trust in institutions by making it harder for people to distinguish lies from truth. Bad actors weaponise algorithms to propagate misinformation, which spreads faster than the truth on social media (Vosoughi et al., 2018). Given the destabilising effects of misinformation on democratic systems, there is a need for policies that can disrupt its flow. However, governments have limited ability to accomplish this goal through regulatory policy alone, and effective solutions must target not only the manufacturing, production, and distribution of misinformation, but also its uptake by the public.
It follows that educational institutions must play a more prominent role in addressing the spread of misinformation. One goal of this course, then, is to examine how education programmes can be designed to effectively cultivate students’ civic and information literacy at different levels of schooling, by drawing from case studies of instructional programmes as well as from expertise developed from the field of journalism. In the first block of the course, students examine educational programmes targeting misinformation in countries with high levels of information literacy (e.g., Finland, Estonia) and discuss policy implications for the role of educational institutions in addressing the spread of misinformation.
In the second block of the course, students learn journalistic theories and research techniques for identifying and combatting misinformation. This part of the course is devoted to an evidence-based countermeasure, namely fact-checking: providing reliable, source-based, and well-argued assessments of claims by politicians, news media publications, and viral social media posts. Fact-checking originated as part of a journalist’s daily routine but has been reinvented during the past two decades as a profession of its own, both within and outside newsrooms. In addition to tried-and-tested means of verifying verbal information, fact-checkers have also developed tools and techniques for image verification.
In the culminating assessment for the course, students integrate their knowledge from the two blocks in a short paper in which they examine how journalistic techniques can be applied to education and policy responses to the problem of misinformation.
Participants in the course will:
Understand theories regarding how and why misinformation spreads, and why people are susceptible to digital manipulation techniques. To this end, participants draw from multidisciplinary work in journalism, education, psychology, and information sciences.
Examine challenges and proposed educational solutions to the problem of misinformation.
Learn about how journalists identify and prevent the spread of misinformation using research techniques for evaluating sources
Develop basic fact-checking skills.
The timetables are available through My Timetable.
Mode of instruction
Assessment and Weighing
Mid-term exam: 30%
Fact-checking assignment: 30%
Attendance is compulsory. Missing more than two tutorials means that students will be excluded from the tutorials. Unauthorized absence also applies to being unprepared, not participating and/or not bringing the relevant course materials to class.
The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.
The resit consists of the same subtests as the first opportunity.
Retaking a passing grade
Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2022 – 2023.
Exam review and feedback
How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organised.
For the first block, we will be using as our main text:
The book is available in both E-book and hardcover formats.
Other texts are to be announced on Brightspace. All reading will be chosen from literature freely available on the web.
Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.
For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.
For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal.