Even before its national launch this week, the News Literacy Project’s checkology™ e-learning platform was making a strong impression.
This set of highly engaging digital lessons and educational resources is the culmination of all of NLP’s work to date and will serve as the project’s primary path to national scale. As a first step, NLP completed a small number of pilots in New York City and the Washington, D.C., area last month.
Scott Murphy, the director of secondary curriculum and districtwide programs for Montgomery County (Md.) Public Schools, said, “I’m really impressed by a level of complexity that is accessible for all students in a classroom and the ways that it gets students to engage in critical thinking and to think deeply.”
The platform features 10 core lessons that give students a foundation in news literacy; they include a focus on the role of the First Amendment and watchdog journalism in a democracy, along with skills and concepts that help students determine how to know what to believe when encountering news and other information. Journalists from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, NBC News, Bloomberg and the Chicago Sun-Times are joined by experts on the First Amendment and digital media as virtual teachers and video-based guides.
It incorporates many of the best practices in e-learning, including self-pacing, blended and experiential learning, personalization, rich formative assessment, remediation, student challenges, and points and digital badges to incentivize and reward engagement and the application of new skills. There is also a class discussion area where students can share and comment on work, reflect on key questions and initiate conversations about news and information. The lessons are aligned with next-generation state standards and 21st-century learning skills.
NLP is offering the platform — which went live yesterday at www.checkology.org — through a “freemium” model and by subscription. The “freemium” model gives educators basic access at no cost, allowing them to deliver the lessons in a one-to-many format (using an LCD projector, for example). Premium subscribers will be provided with individual student logins to unlock one-to-one delivery features, including self-pacing, saved progress, individual assessments, points, badges and student discussion. Teachers can apply here for NLP mini-grants to allow classrooms in underserved communities to pilot the premium unit at no cost this spring and in the fall.
The platform has gotten off to a promising start. On the first day of last month’s pilot at Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School in Washington, students described it as “entertaining and engaging” with “cool examples.” They were asked to list pros and cons on a sheet of paper. Under pros, Octavian Martin wrote “uses real newscasts” and “real newscasters” and referred to a clip from comedian Dave Chappelle. He listed no cons.