The joint project of The Goethe-Institut in Russia and the portal COLTA.RU The Earth Is Flat – How to Read Media?” implemented with the support of the European Union sums up the results of almost three years of its work.
The project held workshops for schoolchildren, trainings for teachers, interactive video lectures for students, and public lectures for the broad public, was engaged in the production of own content, supported the initiatives in media literacy.
The experts of “How to Read Media?” told youngsters and adults how to navigate in a modern online environment, discriminate between facts and fakes, be skeptical of the things offered by the media, protect own rights and defend their opinion, correctly conduct online arguments, adequately react to trolling, counteract cyberbullying.
Usually, the project team obtained positive feedback. Teenagers said that the workshop gave them a new development vector, teachers stated that media literacy should be a compulsory school subject.
Furthermore, from the methodical point of view, it was important to properly set the priorities. The project experts explained that both gadgets and the Internet could be useful, that prohibitions make no sense, that we should speak the same language with our children, that the modern digital world could not be ignored and that we have to learn to live in it.
The participant of the training in Perm, the lecturer of the journalism courses and development director of the school newspaper Dmitry Shilov stated this idea well:
“If we talk about the fact that children are born “with smartphones in their hands and grow up while still holding them”, let it be comfortable for them to the greatest extent. We can give them tools and our vision. We can’t restrict them. But we can teach them how to find a difference between good things and bad things. And if we manage, it would be the best thing that a teacher can do for a child.”
All the classes were built using the principle of “equal to equal”. There were no didacticism or moralizing. The project experts shared their knowledge and experience but didn’t try to “teach how to do it the right way”. It was always a democratic dialogue. Many youngsters were surprised about it.
“I like that nobody treats us like children. Even though I frequently face a fact of a non-serious treatment of teenagers. Failure to perceive adolescents as personalities who are capable of cogitating, arguing, and giving something to the society is wrong” — the workshop participant Polina from Arkhangelsk said.
Media trainers always tried to hear and show the alternative. Adolescents confessed that some of them were advised by their mothers to visit the workshop by sharing the link for registration in social networks. More conscious guys used Google search before signing up for the workshop. Its representatives are famous media specialists, some of them worked in reputable mass media. The good reputation of The Goethe-Institut also helped, somebody, was attracted by the European Union. For many people in the regions, the subject of media literacy is something new. Therefore, due to all these factors, the project activities enjoyed success. Frequently they turned into the most important events in the cities.
The figures speak for themselves. More than 900 persons participated in the workshops, while initially one-quarter of that amount was planned. More than 250 persons participated in discussions of interactive video lectures at the universities. Approximately 300 teachers visited 14 educating trainings. Public lectures, two online discussions with media experts, and an online conference gathered 1800 people.
The project geography is large: 16 cities of Russia, from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok, from Arkhangelsk to Voronezh.
The pandemic didn’t hamper the project. The team of “How To Read The Media?” quickly reorganized its work and went online: webinars were held, interactive lectures, animations, and tests in media literacy were published and a series of expert interviews on infodemic and the consequences of stay-at-home order was prepared.
At a height of the summer season, the project organized an online conference “Media 2020: The Changes” with industry leaders, who discussed not only key trends of media literacy but also the infodemic, and popular media formats: Telegram channels, podcasts, VR technology development, deepfakes. Regardless of a large number of online activities — not the best time — the conference gathered several hundred participants.
The project kit contains three implemented competitions: two — for the development of multimedia projects and one — for the development of an original workshop on media literacy.
A good reputation for “How To Read Media” made the project experts demanded. People started inviting them to speak at other venues: the festivals “Bessonitsa” (“Insomnia”) and “Kommunalka” (“Shared Apartment”), an educational project “Kurilka Gutenberga” (“Guttenberg’s Smoking Room”), The Moscow International Forum “The Education City”, “The Greenhouse of Social Technologies”.
For the project it was important to support the civil and creative dialogue, involve leading specialists in media - both Russian and foreign, - independent journalists, bloggers, artists, film directors, and other representatives of the creative community.
Jointly with the portal “Takie dela”, the online media N+1, BFM studio, and Radio Arzamas, it was managed to establish several multimedia projects: the documentary series “While the connection is available”, the animated series “How to spend summer”, the animations about media literacy, the podcast “Guttenberg will call”, a series of publications within the “New ethics” project.
There were many requests from adolescents and their parents on how to develop media content by themselves. Media trainers recorded training videos on the production of media, where they explain what immersive journalism is, how to create stories and text media, how to make animated videos, how to shoot videos using their own smartphone, and how to record podcasts.
For those interested in media literacy at a serious level, the project prepared the articles on key aspects of media literacy, which were written by journalists and university teachers: How to check the information and avoid falling a victim to fake news; What is the critical thinking and why does a man of today need it?; Media literacy and human rights; Together but separately or separately but together; Others’ life. What is FOMO syndrome, do you have it and should you be afraid of it?; I’m experiencing cyberbullying. What should I do? The instruction: how to protect me from cyberbullying. They’ve become a methodical base. All the key media literacy terms were collected in a sort of alphabet — A Media Glossary specially developed for the project. To check the knowledge, the team prepared the tests.
All the theoretical and practical methods developed in almost three years were included in “The Media Literacy Tutorial” which was presented by the coordinator of “The Earth Is Flat - How To Read Media?” Viktoria Kalinina and the methodologist Ksenia Luchenko. The manual is available for the wide audience in two versions: a digital one and a printed one.
Since March 2018, the project has gathered many friends and partners from different Russian regions. At a meeting in Moscow, they met each other, shared their experience and plans in promoting media literacy. The project is approaching its end - the media literacy ideas still remain. Follow our news!