Texas Tech University

Free, Online Digital Media Literacy Course Available to Anyone Interested

Amanda Bowman

September 11, 2020

Texas Tech is partnering with Arizona State University and the University of Missouri to study digital media literacy, with the course beginning Monday (Sept. 14).

Researchers at Texas Tech University's College of Media & Communication have partnered with faculty colleagues at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the University of Missouri's School of Journalism to assess the benefit of a free, three-week, online digital media literacy course that begins on Monday (Sept. 14). The voluntary, no-credit course is open to all Texas Tech students regardless of their major, as well as to anyone who is interested.

Erik Bucy
Erik Bucy

"The course is a fantastic opportunity for students of any age or major to update their working knowledge about digital media," said Erik Bucy, the Marshall and Sharleen Formby Regents Professor of Strategic Communication at Texas Tech and lead researcher on the project. "Quite often, people think they know more about today's media environment than they actually do, which creates a false sense of confidence when engaging with the online world."

The course, titled, "Mediactive: How to Participate in Our Digital World," is led by Arizona State faculty members Dan Gillmor and Kristy Roschke, with assistance from Celeste Sepessy and Quinlyn Shaughnessy. The course is designed to help people navigate and become better consumers of the complex digital media environment. The curated course materials, which include original exercises and video interviews about digital media topics, are carefully organized to deliver maximum value in just a few hours of study per week.

"This hands-on course is filled with opportunities for students to not only learn but also participate in what hopefully will be a lifelong exploration of media," Bucy said.

Working with digital-learning specialists CogBooks and underwritten with a grant from the Facebook Journalism Project, the course has been made "adaptive," or designed for people to proceed at their own pace. Additional learning modules and access to the course instructors in live video sessions are available for students with questions or in search of a more detailed understanding of the concepts. Throughout the course there are videos, readings and self-checks to gauge how well participants understand the material.

The course was created for an adult audience. Since it is launching close to the November U.S. presidential election, there will be an emphasis on the importance of media literacy for civic participation – participation in our system of government as well as in mediated forms of involvement. Beyond digital news basics, resources offered during the course include debunks of election-fraud myths, how to spot and detect suspect content, what users can do to maintain their privacy online and more.

"One of the things we'll be looking to test is how and in what ways participants become more savvy media consumers and show improvement in the capacity to detect fake news from real news," Bucy added. "In today's confusing political media environment, it's vital that citizens have a solid understanding of what constitutes quality information and sources."

To enroll in the course, interested participants can go to the course website, click on "enroll," provide their contact information and fill out a short, 15-minute survey.

To learn more about the course before enrolling, explore the first section of the class here.