Media Literacy Week at the Hebrew Academy teaches critical thinking | education
From the top-class speakers and fascinating discussion topics to the enthusiastic reception of the students, the Hebrew Academy High School’s first media literacy week was a huge success.
“Media literacy ‘is the ability to recognize different types of media and understand the messages they send,’ from traditional media like newspapers and television to today’s media, which includes social media, memes and viral videos.” said Head Librarian Zehava Cohn, who organized the event with librarian Andrea Whaba. “We graduate students who have been taught the basics of Torah, math, science, history and languages, but we also teach our students how to navigate the world they live in. Media literacy is an important – I would say decisive – aspect of this knowledge acquisition, as our students are integrated into a media-literate world, interact with it and inevitably will work in it. “
During the week all classes heard from Anthony Housefather, Mount Royal Liberal MP; Hugo Rodrigues, executive editor of Cornwall Standard-Freeholder and representative of the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ); Sam Lightstone, IBM’s chief technology officer for AI; and Joel Finkelstein, director and co-founder of the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI), an organization that tracks, detects, and combats misinformation and hate on social media.
“We have selected speakers who are experts in their fields,” said Wahba. “A politician, a newspaper editor, a leading authority on AI and a scientist who tracks hate online and reports to the highest levels of the US government who would be able to raise media literacy in relation to his own work and take concrete steps for students to identify and combat misinformation and disinformation in the media they consume. Because media can be presented in so many different ways, from news reports with flashy headlines to shocking images in social media posts to trendy looking graphics, it was important to select speakers who could discuss media literacy from all of these perspectives. “
Alongside a range of topics, the moderators discussed fake news and deepfakes, disinformation versus misinformation, conspiracy theories on social media, online hatred and anti-Semitism, the role of AI in manipulating users’ online experience and spreading misinformation, and the efforts of the Canadian Government to Combat “Infodemia” through Institutional Oversight.
“I loved learning how a tiny bit of misinformation can lead to horrific conspiracy theories that are not true and can lead to malicious violence,” said 8th grade student Josh Ouaknine. “I found it interesting how groups organize terrible riots online, like the January 6th (US Capitol) riot. I really enjoyed the media literature presentations because they taught me a lot about fake news and misinformation and their consequences. “
The program was particularly relevant to 11th grade students from the Contemporary World who are currently doing research.
“Some students examine links between foreign state interference and manipulation in sovereign states, others examine the dangers of misinformation, disinformation and fake news about democratic institutions, and some examine the role of shared narratives and truth in policy making,” said Teacher Jackie Douek. “This series of lectures was up-to-date, informative and important.”
– From Avia Engel
– Hebrew Academy