We’re Amanda LaTasha Armstrong, a doctoral candidate at New Mexico State University in the College of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Kristine Gloria, PhD, the Director of Artificial Intelligence with Aspen Digital, and Michael Spikes, Ph.D. Candidate in the Learning Sciences at Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy. To celebrate the 7th Annual U.S. Media Literacy Week, we’re excited to expand your understanding of media literacy by talking about how news and information is created and presented through journalistic processes and artificial intelligence, how certain voices and stories can be amplified or muted through human and digital bias, and how media literacy education provides interventional strategies necessary for empowering individuals of all ages to build the skills to counteract real world harms of mis- and disinformation and algorithmic bias. Check out our bios below.

Amanda LaTasha Armstrong (amandalatasha) Hey everyone. I consider myself an applied researcher who values connecting research to teaching practice, development of digital educational products, and policy. As a doctoral candidate at New Mexico State University’s College of Education, my research interests bridge the fields of learning design and technology, multicultural education, and early childhood. My dissertation investigates characters’ gender and racial representation in cihldres’ apps. In the process of identifying app recommendations from online publications, I discovered how search engine algorithms impacted my ability to locate online sources that center the interests of BIPOC communities and developed a strategy to find these sources. In addition to my doctoral research, I serve as the Games Lab Coordinator at NMSU’s Learning Games Lab, where I lead user-testing sessions of products in development (i.e., animations, apps, games, interactive, etc.) as well as teach summer sessions with children and youth that enhance their critical media review skills and strengthen their skills and knowledge about media production and game design. I am also a Research Fellow with New America’s Teaching, Learning, and Tech team, a subgroup of its Education Policy Program, in which I use research to inform policy about new media and technologies in educational environments.

ASK ME ANYTHING about media literacy in the context of early childhood and informal education and teaching practices related to content creation and media review. I can also discuss how algorithms influenced my dissertation study and connect this to educators’ and families’ experiences of using online tools.

PROOF: https://i.redd.it/0wj7eazf9wv71.jpg

Kristine Gloria (Kgloria_AD) I serve as the Director of Artificial Intelligence with Aspen Digital, a public policy program of the Aspen Institute. My work centers on issues related to emerging technologies and society, from algorithmic bias to mis- and disinformation to the future of work. Specifically, I convene global stakeholders and experts across various disciplines and industries to discuss the role technology may have on our ability to connect with each other and with ourselves. Methods and metrics are my love language, and I spend much of my time critically examining current tools and definitions that shape how we understand our relationship with technology. I hold a Ph.D. in Cognitive Science and a Master’s in Media Studies. My passion for uncovering how we navigate our digital world informs public policy making, product design, and research. 

ASK ME ANYTHING about machine learning and knowledge creation, human decision-making processes, mis- and disinformation, and algorithmic bias. I also enjoy exploring the psychological and emotional dimensions of technology as it relates to human development and social connection. 

PROOF: https://i.redd.it/vq943ktd9wv71.jpg

Michael Spikes (Mspikes82) I’ve been both a practitioner and scholar in my field of news media literacy, which is a sub-discipline of media literacy that focuses on using the practices of journalists as both a platform learning and practicing mindful consumption and production of media. My research goals include describing the actual practices of educators who engage students in news media literacy learning, to help identify the ways in which the expert practices of journalists interact with those of educators. I define “educators” broadly to include practitioners, teachers, professors, and librarians, among other people. Ultimately, I want to help identify HOW news media literacy education works in different contexts to help educators cut through the crowded environment of various interventional strategies and curricula to identify core skills and knowledge that can be enacted in many different ways. 

ASK ME ANYTHING about news media literacy in general, and different pedagogical approaches to teaching news media literacy in different learning environments (workshops, online, in classrooms, or in libraries, for instance).

UPDATE: Thank you so much for all of your questions! We will be wrapping up in a few minutes! Be sure to follow medialiteracyweek.us for all of the events happening this week!

Comments: 73 • Responses: 13  • Date: 

BostonDrivingIsWorse15 karma

What advice would you give when trying to have a discussion with someone who has bought into the online misinformation?

MediaLiteracyEd35 karma

What advice would you give when trying to have a discussion with someone who has bought into the online misinformation?

Mike S. - First, the way NOT to do it is to confront the person by telling them all the things they’ve got wrong, and then proceeding to tell them how to correct it with a bunch of facts. This usually enacts what is sometimes called a “backfire effect” where the person will automatically discount new information and double down on the falsehood. My advice is to engage the person in a conversation that details how they arrived at the belief that you want to dispute with them, what information informed it, and why they believed that information was credible. By engaging in a process of inquiry, the person can see that you’re not simply trying to say that they’re wrong, but instead am trying to help them engage in more mindful practices around the use and adoption of new information.

BostonDrivingIsWorse4 karma

This is great, thanks!

Do you have any advice for approaching people who specifically place too much emphasis on outliers when interpreting data?

For example, people who view breakthrough COVID cases as a reason not to get vaccinated?

MediaLiteracyEd3 karma

I’d say that something to understand about data is that it can be interpreted in many different ways, and most of those interpretations are limited, ON PURPOSE, to bolster validity. Those limitations are usually discussed in detail in things like peer-reviewed research reports, but aren’t discussed when those reports are shared with the general public, because they introduce uncertainty that make it difficult to tell stories clearly for a general audience. In turn, stories about data, especially data on an ongoing situation like the pandemic, are filled with uncertainty -- but stories about uncertain things generally leave audiences confused and frustrated. So, as a function of storytelling, the focus is sometimes on the things that “seem certain”, or can be stated clearly (refer to my comment above about people seeking information that appears to bring certainty to a situation). Those statements can be the things that stick in a person’s mind.All said, when it comes to the topic of COVID breakthrough cases, I’d ask for a fuller description of the data such as “how many breakthroughs have occurred compared to ALL of the people who have been vaccinated?”. Certainty is something that people strive for, but it’s rarely found in the world. - Mike S.

707choi14 karma

Thank you for being here! I have a bit of a lengthy question:

How do we counteract or better navigate algorithmic influence? As a small business owner and artist, I find that I often have no choice but to play into the algorithms built into social media platforms.

For example: Instagram has made so many changes to its algorithm within the past few years and it's extremely stressful to keep up with. It also leads a lot of smaller creators to feel as though their work isn't good enough due to drastic decreases in likes/engagement/etc. Many small business owners and creators feel pressured to create a specific type of content (like Reels and video) that may not feel true to them or their work in an effort to keep up.

MediaLiteracyEd5 karma

This is a tough question and something that we’ve seen play out in the media space with news outlets having to play the algorithm game and, well, not winning. My suggestion would always be to try and systematically experiment with the different types of content that suit you and your business. Cut off the ones that take too much time and not enough ROI. Once you know where engagement is leading to sales, I’d concentrate on building a voice/community there. If you have the resources/capacity, having a dedicated SEO and/or SM manager might be worth the investment. One other strategy is to see if any of the platforms have creator communities/liaisons. For example, Pinterest has someone who works with creators on positioning content effectively.- Kristine

MediaLiteracyEd4 karma

Kristine might have more insight on this than I do, but an argument that I hear pretty often in regards to what you bring up is that business owners have to take a very critical eye when building businesses on the backs of platforms that can change at any time without notice. While platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube have connected business and people together around the globe and continue to do so, their goals don’t always align with those of their users. - Mike

Chtorrr5 karma

What would you most like to tell us that no one ever asks about?

MediaLiteracyEd11 karma

I think a question to ask is “how to make media literacy sustainable in your life and day-to-day practice?” While media literacy is its own field of study, it can be authentically incorporated in other content areas at school and with families and communities. Questions like “who is the author of this piece or who is the creator?” are questions that can be asked in history, social studies, literature/ language arts as well as products we use. And these media literacy questions can start in early childhood and with families. To me, it comes to do we embed curiosity about media and online tools in everyday experiences in meaningful and relevant ways. Thank for this question Chtorrr. - Amanda LaTasha

Gisschace3 karma

Do you have any good advice or resources on how someone can learn media literacy and critical thinking?

MediaLiteracyEd5 karma

Do you have any good advice or resources on how someone can learn media literacy and critical thinking?

That is such a fitting question for Media Literacy Week Gisschace. Thank you for asking. If someone is getting started, I’d recommend following NAMLE (National Association of Media Literacy Education) and checking out their resources. Since this is media literacy week, I would look at the event page and identify if there are any specific media literacy topics that are of interest to you or the person you're referring to (website of events: https://medialiteracyweek.us/). There are additional organizations like Common Sense Media, MediaSmarts, and Media Literacy Now that also have free media literacy resources available. As far as critical thinking, these sources can help provide guidance of the types of questions to ask about media and tools, which encourage examination and reflection of the media. Asking questions in a community with peers can enhance critical thinking. I suggest after reviewing those sources, select a few activities from a resource to do with peers or colleagues. Another resource for activities is Project Look Sharp of Ithaca College. While the activities are tailored for educational settings, doing them informally with peers would be helpful too. Oftentimes, I find when I do media literacy + critical thinking activities with peers, I discover something new and learn a different perspective. - Amanda LaTasha

aducateme2 karma

Can you talk about how news is "created and presented through journalistic processes and artificial intelligence?"

MediaLiteracyEd3 karma

Can you talk about how news is "created and presented through journalistic processes and artificial intelligence?"

I don’t know if I can speak to news being created by A.I., but I can speak to some of the journalistic processes that are enacted in the production of news. As a news media literacy specialist, many of my lessons focus on the techniques for developing a healthy skepticism toward incoming information that is shared with the public that journalists should use as part of their work. The basics include verifying the credibility of information with evidence gathered from multiple sources, ensuring a level of independence in their reporting by subjecting it through a process of peer-review, by sharing it with others and collecting feedback. Another includes being transparent about the methods used to gather the information used to compose the story, and being accountable and answerable for that information when mistakes are made, and showing what steps were taken to correct it.
Those are but a few of many of the techniques that are part of news media literacy, which you can learn more about from work from the Center for News Literacy (newsliteracy.org), or the News Literacy Project (newslit.org) - Mike

Mesapholis1 karma

Will we ever - have even a slight chance - of getting humanity out of the seemingly endless sinkhole of disinformation and wanting to believe disinformation (like misleading stereotypes about race, immigrants, etc)

Or is humanity just "settling" on a lower level of information reliability?

How can new Algorithms combat this willingness to believe false facts aside from just adding notes that the information displayed is a blatant lie?

Hope my question makes sense

MediaLiteracyEd4 karma

I’ll add to Kristine’s answer in saying that we all have a tendency to gravitate towards information that either provides us a level of certainty in a world that is filled with uncertain and developing situations, AND if that information tends to affirm beliefs that we already have, we tend to assign it a greater level of “truthiness”. This has always been, and will continue to be the case. Personally, I tend to believe that we need training to limit the effects of things like confirmation bias, and cognitive dissonance, both effects of basically “believing what we want to believe”, instead of engaging with incoming information as provisional and ongoing versions of what we call “truth”. - Mike S.

MediaLiteracyEd3 karma

Thanks, Mesapholis. Lots to unpack in that question - but let’s get at the algorithm question. There is work in recommendation systems that are trying to find different signals that move beyond just countering information to align with other interests and expand curiosity; but in large part, algorithms are meant to point humans in a specific direction. Then, this is when critical thinking skills are a must to decide the reliability and integrity of any piece of information.- Kristine

MediaLiteracyEd1 karma

Kristine and Mike make great points. I would like to add that algorithms are based on human’s perspectives, their values, and goals. Therefore, whoever creates codes has to be intentional about the type of data to collect and the outcome of that data. I also remind myself that we had misinformation and disinformation presented in materials before like textbooks. Therefore, it’s valuable to reflect on what has society done in previous generations to address information issues, what can we learn from that, what can we do differently, and how does this applies to the technology of the time and future. - Amanda LaTasha

ConsciousGrape41 karma

If we’re not sure if an online source is accurate, misleading, or blatant misinformation, what steps can we take to verify a source?

MediaLiteracyEd0 karma


Each person approaches it differently and the age of the person matters (e.g., with young children sorting through information is different than young adults). It can be important to view identifying information as a mini-research project. Then have different sources of data. Search engines can provide information; and at the same time, they may not present you with multiple perspectives because it tailors itself to your previous searches and history. Depending on who you follow on social media, you may have multiple opinions but those could be the same or reflective of your own beliefs. There are non-profit organizations that specialize and conduct research in specific fields as well as other sources, like online encyclopedias, that are helpful as well. Also, some academic journals are open-source and you could check research articles referenced in news or related to your topic of interest. Using a combination of different sources that have different perspectives may help identify a pattern of accurate information. This can take time which is the reason framing this as a “mini-project” may be useful. Thank you for your question ConsciousGrape4. - Amanda LaTasha

aducateme1 karma

Thank you for being here.

I would like to hear your opinions about how to prevent algorithmic bias as it relates to mis- and disinformation.

What are the best ways to achieve a certain level of sound-proofing certain bias loops than need to be closed?

MediaLiteracyEd2 karma

Thanks for the question. Happy to start and can elaborate more! There are a few different strategies to consider. First is always to recognize that algorithms reflect a variety of perspectives and human decisions - whether that be in the design of the system itself and or the data used. Recognition of a system’s limitations is always a good starting point. Then, I’d suggest challenging the thesis of the presumed piece of mis- and disinformation. Perhaps this is reading up on some history; or understanding the data for yourself. Bias is an un-ending occurrence that requires iterative reflection and the lens of algorithmic bias is helpful in understanding it from a systems-level. - Kristine

bmsem1 karma

If you could change one thing about how information is shared on social media, what would it be?

MediaLiteracyEd2 karma

t how information is shared on social media, what would it be?

Go back to chronological order and inject serendipity/tension. - Kristine