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Course Catalog

Media Literacy: Discerning Fact from Fiction Online  

Data show that baby boomers are the most vulnerable demographic when it comes to sharing false information (“fake news”) online. This course will inform students on the common types and methods of misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda online, with the goal of helping them develop critical skills for identifying reliable and accurate news and information and resisting false and misleading stories. The course will explore psychological factors such as cognitive and availability bias that contribute to believing things that are not true, and explore real-world methods used by trolls and political organizations to exploit human tendencies to believe what confirms our worldview. Hands-on experiments will reinforce the theories and ideas presented in the lectures. Week by Week Outline Week 1: What is “Fake News”?: Exploring examples of and differences between propaganda, misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories, and incomplete or decontextualized information, in both visual and print media. Week 2: The Science of Persuasion: Understanding the strategies used by media producers to make us do or believe what they want us to. Practical Exercise. Week 3: Recognizing Bias. What biases can we discern in a media message, and how can we be conscious of our own biases when consuming media. Practical Exercise. Week 4: Echo Chambers and Filter Bubbles: How social media and personalization create an information environment that insulates us from a full range of information and perspective. Practical Exercise. Week 5: Understanding Health News Online: Media outlets frequently misrepresent scientific studies about medical and health science. What scientific studies do and do not say, and how put science news into perspective. Practical Exercise. Week 6: Should I Forward That?: An overview of strategies proposed by journalists and media theorists for effectively evaluating a piece of information before forwarding or reposting it.


This class is not available at this time.