May 22, 2022

5 Ways to Make Media & Information Literacy Cool for Young People

by Sarah Zafar

In December, I attended a training-of-trainers on Media & Information Literacy (MIL) in Islamabad. The training, organised by the DW Akademie in Pakistan and Individualland, informed journalism educators, journalists, and media development professionals about MIL—a broad concept that covers skills related to information ethics, news production, and digital literacy.

MIL is considered to be one of the several potential solutions to deal with our current “information disorder“, which mostly affects us in the form of online disinformation campaigns and misinformation messages. MIL skills focus on effective access to information, critical consumption of media messages, and ethical production of news and information.

I’m sharing my top five takeaways from the training in this post, with the intention that these suggestions might help other trainers and educators when they provide MIL education to young people in Pakistan.

1 Keep the sessions interactive

Make sure you allow your audience to lead the conversation around what MIL is, and what it means to them. Do not force them to listen to definitions or theories, rather question them on their use of media and their experiences with accessing information online. This will make the instruction more participatory, and it could make the trainees reflect on their understanding of information literacy.

2 Use recent real-world examples

Try to explain MIL concepts using real life examples that young people can relate to. For example, when explaining disinformation and the harm it can cause, try to use examples of false information that were popular across social media in Pakistan and ensure your audience knows about these incidents. If not, ask the participants if they have encountered disinformation online. This will allow the participants to think about the effect disinformation had on them, and they can share examples from their personal social media use.

DW Akademie MIL Training of Trainers

Participants at the DW Akademie Pakistan MIL training take part in a role-playing activity to record a professional news interview ethically. Photo: Sarah Zafar

3 Learn what ‘media’ means to the audience

The term ‘media’ is complex. Different media have different problems, and the solutions to these problems also differ across platforms. If your training participants use Facebook, explain MIL in the context of this specific social network. This will make the training instruction relevant.

4 Keep it simple

If you are working with young people, it’s best to teach MIL skills using simple tips and tricks. For example, if you want students to read news in a more critical way, teach them about reliable and unreliable sources, the language of news reports, and how to check if a website is fake or not (by reading the About Us or Contact pages). Cross-checking information from just reading the comments section in online posts can be a quick and easy way to identify false information. Rather than stressing on complex tools and software to determine authenticity of news, share easy ways that young people can adopt in their daily social-media lives to be better information consumers.

5 Make it fun

Teaching MIL concepts through games and fun activities can keep the participants engaged and attentive. Plan group activities. For example, make them record short news interviews in pairs or groups. This will help them reflect on how to frame questions sensitively and ethically. Or design a role-play activity with participants by giving them scenarios and situations. For example, the group can simulate a breaking news situation or prepare a brief presentation on how they will find reliable sources to verify information. The DW Akademie MIL guidebook for trainers provides several energisers and interactive group activities that trainers can include in their training agenda.

Hope these tips prove useful for you. Happy MIL learning!

Sarah Zafar is the communications manager at Media Matters for Democracy

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