BETHESDA, Md. — Oct. 4, 2016 — To increase public awareness of the First Amendment and provide middle and high school students with a deeper understanding of quality journalism in the digital age, the News Literacy Project today announced the expansion of its checkology™ virtual classroom initiative. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is investing $225,000 to help make the online educational platform widely available in five cities where it invests: Charlotte, North Carolina; Detroit; Lexington, Kentucky; Miami; and Philadelphia.
Since its launch in 2008 with Knight support, the News Literacy Project has provided more than 30,000 students with the tools to be smart, active consumers of news and information through classroom, after-school and e-learning programs. Its virtual classroom platform was launched in May 2016 and is already being used by teachers and students in 34 states and the District of Columbia.
The checkology™ platform provides students with the critical thinking skills they need to determine what news and information to trust. It features a diverse group of prominent journalists and other experts who lead interactive lessons on such topics as how to discern credible information, assess viral rumors, analyze bias and understand the role of algorithms. Other lessons focus on the importance of the First Amendment and the watchdog role of a free press in a democracy.
The five cities where the News Literacy Project, with Knight support, will expand its virtual classroom initiative are among the 26 communities where John S. and James L. Knight once owned newspapers. The expansion will focus primarily on introducing the program to underserved communities in these cities. To this end, the News Literacy Project will work with schools and teachers to introduce the virtual classroom to public middle and high schools, after-school programs and libraries during the 2016-17 school year.
“The News Literacy Project has been a leader in creating and delivering educational resources to give the next generation the ability to appreciate quality journalism and to become informed and engaged citizens in this age of nonstop news and information,” said News Literacy Project President Alan C. Miller. “Knight Foundation’s support at this crucial time will give us the opportunity to help far more students know how to determine what to believe, share and act on.”
“There is an urgent need to increase awareness about the essential role of quality journalism and a free press in a democracy, given the volume of misinformation streaming into social media feeds,” said Jennifer Preston, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism. “The News Literacy Project will help young people identify trusted sources of information, ask critical questions about what they are reading and viewing, and engage them as full partners in building informed communities.”
Students will have access to the full virtual classroom experience, including personal instruction, self-pacing, individual assessments and a student discussion forum. Teachers can track student progress, view formative assessment data and offer personalized feedback on qualitative assessments, including short-answer responses, discussion posts and mini-projects. Throughout the school year, the News Literacy Project will gather feedback about the platform from teachers and students, to make improvements and create additional lessons.
Support for the News Literacy Project is part of Knight Foundation’s efforts to promote information access and raise awareness of the rights guaranteed under the First Amendment. Knight Foundation has made many investments in this area and recently launched the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.
About the News Literacy Project
The News Literacy Project works with educators and journalists to equip middle school and high school students with the tools to be smart, active consumers of news and information and engaged, informed participants in our democracy. It aspires to see news literacy embedded in the American educational experience as an essential skill. For more, visit newsliteracyproject.org.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.
Alan C. Miller, President and CEO, the News Literacy Project, 301-651-7499, [email protected]
Anusha Alikhan, Communications Director, Knight Foundation, 305-908-2646, [email protected]