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Our Czech Team Presents a New Handbook for Teachers to Support Media Literacy

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A new handbook for teachers aimed at strengthening media literacy entitled The Truth Matters – How to Teach about Truth and Lies on the Internet (in Czech, available here) prepared by Kamil Kopecký, Dominik Voráč and René Szotkowski from the Faculty of Education, Palacký University, has been published as part of CEDMO’s media literacy activities. The manual offers various options for working with the topic of truth and lies in the online environment.

“The topic of distinguishing between truth and lies in the online environment belongs to the topics that evoke powerful emotions and, unfortunately, often aggressive expressions. At the same time, verifying sources and recognising false news is one of the key skills of the 21st century,” says Kamil Kopecký, head of the team of authors. At the same time, he adds: “If we learn to work with emotions, learn to verify information, assess the relevance of sources, detect fraud and distortion, then it is harder to manipulate us, and we become more resistant.”

The handbook deals with the topic of truth from several perspectives – first of all, it considers the concept of truth and lies from a historical perspective. Subsequently, it addresses the myths and untruths that have penetrated deeply into our society and which we commonly spread and consider to be accurate, and finally, it addresses false information in the present.

“We think it’s important to teach about fake news and disinformation in a broader context – it’s not just about telling students what disinformation is, how to recognize it and giving examples. We also want to focus on the student’s metacognition when they realize they may have believed things that were not entirely true all their lives. This should then develop the students’ self-reflection and, together with knowledge and skills, create a complex whole that will help them not to get lost in a world full of information,” adds Dominik Voráč, co-author of the handbook and a doctoral student focusing on media education.

The handbook also covers photos and videos. The authors explain, for example, how important it is to always assess events in the given context and how easily the first impression can mislead us and evoke strong emotions that can cloud our rational judgment. Numerous examples of photo manipulation illustrate this, whether it is changing perspective,  detail and cropping, retouching or photo montages. The authors then deal with video manipulation via keying or neural networks (deep fake). A separate part of the manual is devoted to different types of hoaxes that we encounter in the ordinary world and that affect us.

As media education is a cross-cutting topic of the RVP ZV (Framework Educational Program for Elementary School) and thus naturally pervades several thematic areas, the handbook can be used across a variety of subjects, whether it is Czech language, biology, history or mathematics. Our intention was to create a set of very specific activities that pedagogues can include in teaching their subjects, easily and quickly,” adds Dominik Voráč.

The manual can be downloaded for free in Czech here or at the  website of E-Bezpečí.

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