Disinformation, propaganda and hate-speech have no borders. Then, why should we?
The effects of digitalization and the subsequent lack of trust in traditional media are impacting societies everywhere. Over the course of numerous recent elections around the globe, we learned that fact-checking alone is not enough to counter the sea of misinformation we are in. Education is, and always will be, the best way to bring positive change and empower people with relevant and trusted information.
A lot of research has been done by academics and educators about overarching themes in the field of Media and Information Literacy (MIL) over the past decades. However, many on-the-ground initiatives often worked in relative obscurity or in isolation. The potential for joining forces and learning from one another remained untapped.
In April 2018, in an effort to bridge that gap, 13 experts from different corners of the globe founded the Media and Information Literacy Expert Network (MILEN), with the support of Deutsche Welle Akademie. MILEN shares the vision that MIL education is a critical tool to prepare citizens for a responsible future, giving people access to new opportunities in an increasingly globalized world.
What works? What doesn’t? One of the first discoveries of MILEN as a network was that each of its experts had a lot of experience to share with one another in a variety of approaches and contexts.
As it turns out, the interaction of indigenous communities with tech in South America has much in common with what happens in remote villages of Asia. At the same time, an online game developed in Europe to “vaccinate” people against fake news could be used in summer schools in Africa or in workshops in the Middle East to prevent polarization, each adapted to local realities.
Each of MILEN’s experts has a proven track record in the field, contributing in a unique way to freedom of expression and empowering critical media consumers and producers. That amounts not only to a transdisciplinary approach to MIL, but it allows MILEN to draw a common concept and understanding of what MIL is all about.
No need to reinvent the wheel
Creating teaching materials, workshops and curricula. They have been through all of that, and it is a lot of work. The whole idea of MILEN is about making MIL accessible. It’s about developing new approaches, reaching different groups, researching trends, and raising awareness both to issues and to MIL solutions.
MILEN is developing their own platform where soon you will be able to access all that valuable content. And while their international presence may help to advocate for Media and Information Literacy on policy level, their expertise aims to aid all levels of practice.
There are many skills and competences that could be developed through a MIL project, such as accessing information, critically evaluating sources of information, creating one’s own media, etc. And the good thing about MIL education is that you don’t need much to get started. It just needs to be creative, hands on and fun!
You can learn more about each of MILEN’s specific projects on their website. You can also meet some of MILEN at the UNESCO’s Global MIL Week feature event that will take place in Gothenburg, Sweden, in September, where they will host a session.
Finally, it is interesting to note that MILEN’s experts had initially pursued their line of work without necessarily having MIL in mind. However, their passion to empower and include citizens into a globalized world led them to this path. Let this be a provocative insight to us in tricky times of political uncertainty.
When we all contribute to change, we can create change.
The founding experts of the network work in Cambodia, Namibia, Uganda, Bolivia, the Netherlands, Palestine, India, Moldova, Brazil, Arab World, and Georgia.
Find out more from these websites: