It will provide training in Latin America on topics such as information ethics, critical thinking, reflection, interpretation, communication and decision-making, among others. More than half of the students don't know how to spot fake news. The pilot project will start in Argentina, Colombia and Mexico, and will then become an online education platform
By Julieta Schulkin September 15, 2020 Share on FacebookShare Share on TwitterTweet Share on WhatsAppShare
(AP Photo / Marco Ugarte)
Google presented the DigiMente program, an initiative to promote media education in Latin America. Through a survey carried out, they detected that almost 60% of the students do not know how to detect false news and that in Argentina, the main problem for learning online is the lack of time or motivation followed by the difficulty to understand the materials of study.
The initiative is led by Movilizatorio (a laboratory for citizen participation and social innovation incubated by the Purpose agency for Latin America), Teach For All (a global network of organizations working in education), Enseña x Argentina / Colombia / México (an organization focused on equal opportunities for students in vulnerable contexts), with the support of the Google News Initiative .
Children and adolescents represent the most active population on the Internet and through alliances with social organizations, they will train minors to develop skills that allow them to classify the information they receive. The design and implementation of the pilot project will be in Argentina, Colombia and Mexico .
Subsequently, it will be opened to all Latin American countries, through an online education platform. The program will provide training on topics such as misinformation, information ethics (how to create and share content in this line), critical thinking, reflection, interpretation, communication and decision making.
DigiMente, Google's program to provide training to minors on disinformation
“Is DigiMente a draft media literacy for Latin America and is based on the pioneering experiences in this regard as those developed in Stanford, Civic Online Reasoning and EducaMidia in Brazil, both supported by Google , ” pointing to Infobae Juan Manuel Lucero, leader for Argentina from the Google News laboratory.
For the implementation of the project, they will be based on different methodologies that have been generated by EnseñaxArgentina / Colombia / Mexico to teach their classes in the context of the pandemic. “Within the initial design of the project -pre pandemic- the bet was to do a face-to-face pilot in classrooms with the EnseñaX network of allies, just to overcome the connectivity gaps. Under this new scenario, what is being done is to adapt the curriculum so that the activities that are proposed are functional in different modalities, ”says Lucero.
In this sense, different modalities are planned: curricula and online activities, available for direct download by teachers, parents and young people; curricula and activities to be carried out in an online classroom format; content and activity capsules for delivery by courier services; and curricula and activities to be printed and sent in the form of booklets and study plans.
From Enseñá x Argentina, Magdalena Fernández Lemos, executive director of the organization tells Infobae : “Education has the power to transform the reality of students and there are more and more channels through which information moves daily.” The existing internet accessibility gap today marks the need to create content available for online download (from mobile phones) and offline consultation.
According to data from the NGO, the media practices of the students are oriented, fundamentally, to the consumption and search of audiovisual material, photos, video and music. Most do not develop content creation and publication activities.
In addition, the consumption of news in local, national or international media occurs in online search engines, social networks and television. The problem of misinformation is being experienced by young people in different ways, and most believe that evaluating and verifying information published on the internet is important even though they are not aware of a method to do it .
The Teach For All network works with communities considered vulnerable in the region. These are school communities in areas of socio-economic risk, where educational quality is very low and students are at risk of dropping out of the educational system. However, this varies in each context.
“For example, in Argentina the vulnerable areas are in peri-urban areas, while in Colombia there is vulnerability due to the armed conflict in rural areas. In this sense, although the curriculum is designed so that it can reach and be functional in vulnerable territories, there is no restriction so that it can also be used and applied in private schools and communities with high educational quality. The focus on vulnerable communities is done taking into account that due to the low educational quality in these areas, an additional effort must be made, and much more intentional to guarantee that these contents reach and are applicable, ”Lucero clarifies.
The big problem of this era: misinformation
“It is important to highlight that disinformation is not a particular internet problem but a challenge of our era, where all actors, old and new, are involved,” says Lucero. In this sense, from the Google News Initiative, they collaborate and support the media in Latin America and the world. Today's way for Google to combat misinformation is, first of all, on its own platforms, improving content distribution to prioritize quality news and also with algorithmic updates.
Last year, for example, they developed open and free digital literacy initiatives for citizens and young voters in several Argentine provinces, which allowed them to learn digital tools to identify false information in the context of presidential elections. They also carry out actions with third parties (such as Reverse, Checked and Red / Action). In 2019, together with FOPEA, they created a Network of Trainers to train journalists in the fight against disinformation in 23 Argentine provinces.
DigiMente is focused on students between the ages of 12 and 17. During the first half of 2020, the research plan took place in 3 phases. “In the first phase, we reviewed more than twenty media literacy curricula from other countries around the world, including the Civic Online Reasoning developed by Stanford University. We study them, we compare them, we analyze the good practices linked to each one of them and we work to adapt them ”, Juliana Uribe, CEO and founder of Movilizatorio, tells Infobae .
Then, they designed a quantitative survey. “The findings from this phase were very interesting. In an exercise on fake news in the survey, for example, we noticed that almost 60% of students do not know how to detect them ”, warns Uribe. Finally, they combined the quantitative analysis phase with qualitative analysis instruments (telephone interviews and focus group). ” We were very motivated to know that adolescents value not only the use of technology in the classroom, but also educational, practical and participatory activities, ” he adds.
Once tested, the curriculum will be online and available for all Spanish-speaking countries. But its interface will be friendly to be consulted from cell phones or other mobile devices and will have material that can be downloaded by teachers and students to work offline.
“ We are aware that connectivity is not uniform in Latin America in general. In the case of Argentina, in comparative terms, connectivity is not the central problem . Our country exhibits the highest levels of internet access in Latin America after Uruguay, and the prevalence of cell phone use with connectivity exceeds 90% in some districts. In Argentina, as the result of our survey, the main problem for learning online is the lack of time or motivation followed by the difficulty to understand the study materials, ”he says.
During this second semester of the year, they will work on the development and testing of some units of the curriculum related to the evaluation of information, the creation of online content, participation on the internet and social networks, and the assessment of ethical issues, such as the rules of online participation, rights and responsibilities. Then, they will feed the process that is coming for 2021: the final testing of the curriculum, the implementation in Argentina, Colombia and Mexico, and its subsequent scalability at the regional level .