FIDO project comes to life in adult classrooms — EPALE — European Commission
One year of development, coordination and meetings, the European adult project FIDO (from the Erasmus Plus programme “Fighting Fake News and Disinformation”), funded by the European Commission, has entered the classrooms of partner educational institutions. Since last March, organisations from Italy, Greece, Poland and Slovenia have been developing learning modules to teach adults about fake news and disinformation on web.
In Slovenia, the first workshop was held in March at the Adult Education Center in Zasavje Region ( Zasavska ljudska univerza — ZLU) in Zagorje ob Savi, and second in Trbovlje a month later. The next workshop is scheduled to take place at ZLU’s classrooms in June.
First workshop in Zagorje ob Sava
In the recently renovated premises of the Slovenian partner, Adult Education Center in Zasavje region, (in addition to ZLU, the video production company Rusaalka acts as second partner) held their first workshop. The coordinator of the adult education programmes in ZLU and an adult educator, Liza Kokole, chose two topics, which she presented to more than ten participants — older adults, all of whom came from the local area.
“Why do we believe certain information and not others? What makes us trust some news while we doubt others?”, Kokole addressed the participants before instructing them to play a simple warm-up game “Two truths and a lie”. Through a mix of humour and personal confessions, the participants were introduced to the concept of “creating false content”, and Kokole broke the ice with great success
In the second part, Kokole decided to introduce the participants to an internet trend: ‘trolling’. Most of the participants said that it was the first time they had heard of the concept, but that they found it interesting. Others recalled the well-known “ Kopriva affair”, when MP, of Slovenian conservative political party, Alenka Jeraj used a fake profile on the social network Twitter to bully political opponents and publicly mock them. Last February, Jerajeva clumsily outed herself by logging in a little from her own account and another time from a fake one she called Kopriva60918021.
Second workshop in Trbovlje
The second workshop in Trbovlje was similarly lively. Using computers, participants searched for examples of content that they doubted the sources of.
“How do we know what is real and what is not?” they asked the trainer.
As in the first workshop, the group was told that the content strands would potentially give participants pause for thought, insight, but also some fresh insight into false content. At the same time, it is important to stress that at the end of the day, each one of us is alone in front of our smartphone, computer screen, and television set.
There is no way that websites that check for false content can keep up with the flood of misleading information found online.
This is simply impossible, so we gave the participants some simple tips that they can always use to act as responsible users:
The first one is; to pay attention to language. The use of language in texts that are deliberately misleading or even false is often very simple, sometimes ambiguous, grammatical errors are not rare and the choice of vocabulary is poor. The second tip concerns ‘shock creation’, theatricality and drama, which is often already apparent in the title of the text. This does not mean that the text is false, but it can be misleading as it deliberately plays on users’ emotions, a very common feature of fake news and disinformation. The third tip concerns authorship and source: what do we know about the author? Who is he/she? Does he or she even exist? Some authors and media are already known for spreading unsubstantiated and unreasoned news.
How to proceed?
In addition to the training modules, the FIDO partner network will develop two additional tools to raise digital literacy among adults: a theoretical handbook already in development under the auspices of the Polish University of Humanities and Economics in Łódź, and a serious game for adults being developed by Tuscan computer game developers from Lucca.
The partners continue to hold monthly online meetings to discuss the development of educational tools, their shortcomings, improve patches, reflect on test trials and so on. They try to keep up-to-date, focus on the needs of adults and take into account the local context of each of the participating countries
Katja Lihtenvalner is an adult educator, media analyst and journalist. She works as a media content researcher, educational content design consultant, journalist and videographer in the FIDO programme with the Ljubljana-based video production company Rusaalka