The key role of educators in promoting media and digital literacy worldwide

by Tactical Tech, International NGO.

How do we raise awareness and increase understanding in an age when social media posts have the potential to shape citizens’ opinions and decisions? The digital challenges that affect every aspect of our lives – from how we understand the world to what we decide to buy or for whom we choose to vote – require a well-informed society. In a time when the quantity of information is overwhelming and the spread of misinformation is intensifying social tensions and increasing polarisation, digital and media literacy is crucial, and educators worldwide are critical to this process.

Tactical Tech has been working with partners around the world for several years to address these issues and co-create interventions and resources that can be used, adapted and scaled by different organisations and individuals, especially educators, to promote conversations around the impact of technologies and foster proactive alternatives. In our new EU-funded project, we have joined forces with European Schoolnet, Save the Children Italy, and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) to co-develop the Digital and Media Literacy Case for Educators, a set of effective, creative, awareness-raising educational resources that tackle these concerns.

The Glass Room Misinformation Edition in its easy-print format. Photo courtesy of Save the Children, Romania, 2022.

Why are digital and media literacy more important than ever?

Balanced opinion and decision-making needs to be based on access to accurate and verifiable information. The increasing trend of digital manipulation and an algorithmically-manufactured media landscape creates huge challenges for society. These challenges have only grown in urgency over the past few years and will continue to grow with the rise of generative AI that can quickly and easily produce and spread synthetic images, voices, and videos. People of all generations are routinely overwhelmed with information, opinions and advertisements, and cannot fully understand when, why and how they are being targeted.

Users of today’s technologies have the opportunity to create and share information as well as develop their own narratives. In this context, we are facing an upsurge in manipulation, misinformation and abuse of power to influence civic attitudes and decision-making. Communities and civil society need to better understand how their data is valuable and used at scale; and how the algorithmic nature of the media space impacts what they see and who is influencing them.

More importantly, there is a need for community engagement, to address these issues openly, and find ways to navigate particular challenges. To create the Digital and Media Literacy Case, we are partnering with teachers, trainers and librarians across Europe to get their input on the most effective methods and formats. In addition, using our co-development framework, we are consulting teenagers directly to get their input.

What can be done, and what is educators’ critical role?

In order to increase educators’ and learners’ understanding of how to navigate the digital environment, we need a blend of approaches. Materials, toolkits and courses should be engaging and presented at a similar level of production and visual appeal to the media itself. These materials should explain the problem and suggest solutions, enable learning and encourage dialogue; have the potential to scale yet the flexibility to be adapted locally; and lay down frameworks that can cope with fast-moving, dynamic challenges.

What the Future Wants, a portable exhibition designed for the classroom. Photo courtesy ICAD,
Nigeria, 2022.

Educators in schools, libraries and youth centres are playing a critical role in helping to increase media literacy and addressing some of these challenges in an accessible and more sustainable way. This makes them essential partners, not only in reaching communities, but in seeking out, codeveloping and distributing impactful solutions that have a higher potential to aid in solving the problem.

One practical example is the Spotlight program (Punti Luce) in Italy managed by Save the Childrenand the InSafe Network spanning more than 15 countries in Europe. They organised exchanges with members of their network, to share knowledge about best formats and methods; as well as audited existing resources. Their findings will be gathered, along with research, and input from youth to create the multi-formatted materials addressing the most recent concerns and trends in digital and media literacy education.

What the Future Wants activities. Photo courtesy Goethe-Institut Skopje, 2022.

Whilst the challenges created by technologies increase, educators are protagonists in the media and digital literacy education process by providing people with the knowledge and skills they need to easily navigate the digital landscape and create generations of critical thinkers who can confidently tackle challenges in their digital environment.

To access Tactical Tech’s media literacy resources, have a look at some of our resources. What the Future Wants: an exhibition co-developed by teens for the classroom, Data Detox Workshops: concise workshop outlines for facilitators and educators. The Glass Room’s animation series: engaging videos exploring misinformation.


Tactical Tech is an international NGO (established in 2003) that engages with citizens and civil-society organisations to explore and mitigate the impacts of technology on society.