EMILE: Empowering Schools in Self-regulation of Media and Information Literacy processes

by Christian Tarchi, Fatbardha Qehaja Osmani, Chiara Pecini, EMILE project team, University of Florence, Italy.

In light of major transformations in the way we read, communicate and learn that have occurred in the last decades, the EMILE project aims to empower secondary school teachers and students  in their self-regulation processes when critically engaging with digital information. This innovative project was funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (European Media and Information Fund – EMIF) and is being implemented by four different partners ranging from university institutions to research institutes from Italy, Finland and Romania, with a common goal of promoting media literacy in schools and enhancing its effective use. The project is developing a digital game to support students regulation of the cognitive processes that are involved when learning online. Moreover, the project is developing a professional development training to strengthen teachers’ competence in teaching media literacy. This article summarises the key elements of the EMILE project and its specific objectives.


The EMILE team consists of 4 partners: the University of Florence (Italy) as the lead partner, Tampere University (Finland), the Anastasis Cooperative Association (Italy) and the Romanian American University (Romania). Each partner has a specific role in reaching the common goal of the project of empowering schools in self-regulation of media and information literacy processes.

The project team has taken a twofold approach to media literacy processes:

1. The first objective is to expand reach of media and information literacy.  The project provides cross-disciplinary professional development to support teachers’ competence in media and information literacy education. This tool includes research-based materials about core processes of critical information literacy and supporting teaching materials that teachers will be able to use not only during the project but also after the project.

2. The second objective is to empower students on media and information literacy by supporting underling cognitive processes (i.e., executive functions). The project is developing innovative gamified solutions and data mining in identifying adolescents’ cognitive online processing profiles and applying this information in gamified media and information literacy training.


The EMILE project is undertaking three main lines of activities through which it aims to reach the two core objectives.

Activity 1 – The teachers’ professional development in media and information literacy education.

An essential part of the EMILE project is to support in-service teachers’ professional development so that they are fully prepared to strengthen young students’ ability to read critically and evaluate the credibility of online information. To assist teachers in this process, the project team has been developing research-based materials, including nine videos. The first three videos are research-based educational videos, each lasting approximately 8 minutes, and aim to answer the following questions:

1) What is critical reading?

2) How can students evaluate the reliability of texts?

3) How to teach critical online reading?

In addition, the package includes six short, two-minute-long videos describing different kinds of tools and exercises that the teachers can use in their teaching.  To ensure the sustainability and widespread availability of media literacy education the project team will ensure full accessibility of the materials also after the EMILE project. The videos are being developed in Finnish and then translated into Italian and English.

Images from the video shooting by the team in Tampere University, Finland.

Activity 2- Game-based intervention toolkit for self-regulation processes

The central focus of the EMILE project is to support self-regulation of cognitive processes of upper-primary and secondary-school students to effectively access and critically analyse media content. This is mainly achieved by the game-based training: Elli’s World (“Elli” comes from “cervELLI” that means “brains” in Italian), which is being designed and adapted by the project team. This game includes different districts in which students must complete various tasks related to media literacy and executive functions. Data mining strategies have been designed by the team to identify students’ profiles and to see how a group or individual progresses through different steps and finally make predictions based on participants’ performance. The game will be developed and tested in Italian, and translated in Finnish and English.

Images of the adapted Elli’s World game which is designed to empower students’ cognitive processes to think critically and assess the trustworthiness of information.

Activity 3: Wide dissemination of the importance of students’ self-regulation processes in media literacy.

The EMILE project uses different techniques to increase public awareness of the importance of the self-regulation processes needed in effective media literacy education. It produces regular Education Briefs featuring topics focusing on self-regulation processes and media-literacy in young students which are published on the project’s website and Facebook page. In addition, all project activities and results are constantly being disseminated online and are available in English.

Images of the Education Briefs produced by the lead partner of the EMILE project, the University of Florence, Italy.

For more information on the EMILE project please visit:  https://www.emile.unifi.it or contact the research team at christian.tarchi@unifi.it