By Samantha Stanley
More than 6,600 students from 125 countries have enrolled in Making Sense of the News: News Literacy Lessons for Digital Citizens since its launch in January. A recent spike in registration over the summer is thanks, in part, to the course’s recognition by its platform host, Coursera, as a social impact course. In May, Coursera began marketing its social impact courses, resulting in several hundred new enrollments.
Offered in partnership with Stony Brook University’s Center for News Literacy, Making Sense of the News: News Literacy Lessons for Digital Citizens encourages critical thinking about the news by teaching learners how to differentiate news content from other kinds of content, which is increasingly difficult in today’s digital media landscape. It also teaches how to recognize elements of quality news information, how to spot patterns of bias, and how to evaluate sources of information.
Learners from the course have consistently provided positive feedback—the course has a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars—noting that tools from the lessons give them long-term skills for analyzing content.
“This course leaves me feeling much better equipped to sort fact from fiction, and discern evidential-based stories from opinion and assertions. I plan on repeating the course to better solidify this knowledge,” said one user.
Dr. Masato Kajimoto, Assistant Professor of Practice at the JMSC and co-creator of the course, has taught news literacy, to students in person and online, for the past seven years. He adapted the news literacy curriculum created by the Center for News Literacy for students in Hong Kong and he teaches educators around Asia to do the same.
“Course enrollment has been steadily increasing since it launched in January and we’re happy to see that Coursera’s Social Impact Campaign has led to a bump in registration,” said Dr. Kajimoto. “I believe our course would help learners understand the news content better.”
It has been a busy year for Dr. Kajimoto and fellow Assistant Professor of Practice Anne Kruger, who leads JMSC’s Cyber News Verification Lab. Both have travelled to numerous conferences in Asia, Europe, and North America where journalists, academics, and advocacy groups have come together to address the state of journalism and growing concerns about the spread of misinformation.
In August, they travelled to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to lead the annual Summer Institute for News Literacy Fellows, a three-day workshop that teaches educators from all over Southeast Asia how to adapt Stony Brook University’s news literacy curriculum for students in their home countries. They will represent the JMSC in New York at the Center for News Literacy’s Global News Literacy Conference, where they will present papers on the news literacy and verification work they have done over the past year.
Samantha Stanley recently completed a Master of Journalism degree at the University of Hong Kong and will stay on at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre to pursue a doctorate degree. Her areas of interest include digital and news literacy education and digital news consumption.