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Czech high school students can learn about disinformation through a new escape game

13.11.2018 7:04
The Czech-language servers that spread disinformation and racism. (Collage:  Romea.cz)
The Czech-language servers that spread disinformation and racism. (Collage: Romea.cz)

High school media courses in the Czech Republic can now use a new "escape game" called Fakescape thanks to which students should be able to learn how to distinguish disinformation from reliable news. The project was presented on 6 November to journalists by the media and political science students at Masaryk University in Brno who developed the game.

Their colleagues from the project "Choose Your Info" (Zvol si info) also presented a new publication about disinformation that will be disseminated free of charge to children's homes and senior centers. Fakescape takes the form of four tasks in which players gradually become involved in verifying information, working with texts, researching headlines in news reports and learning about photograph manipulation.

All of the tasks are part of a story in which the protagonist is working as a journalist during the presidential elections of 2028. "It is possible to assign the game and complete it during a single class, and teachers will still have room to answer questions or further explain things," said one of the creators of the project, Tereza Kráčmarová.

The authors of the project are now planning to visit secondary schools to test the game. Designers plan to incorporate student feedback into the evolving versions of the game.

In the future the designers are counting on anybody being able to order the playing set and rules for their school. The format of the game, according to the authors, is also appropriate for the organizers of different after-school programs, Scouts divisions or other groups.

The student development team can be reached at info@fakescape.cz for more information. At the press conference, journalists were allowed to test the game themselves.

It took most of them about a half an hour to complete the tasks, but not everybody was able to solve all of them without errors on the first try. Difficulties are caused not just by insufficient knowledge of facts, but also by reading texts too quickly and failing to accurately comprehend them.

The journalists mostly assessed the game as entertaining. Masaryk University educators and students at the political science department have been focused on the subjects of disinformation, manipulation and propaganda for several years.

In 2016 they launched the "Choose Your Info" project, thanks to which they have been doing outreach about information education through the Internet and lectures. The political scientists have also written the publication "The Best Book about Fake News, Disinformation and Manipulation" (Nejlepší kniha o fake news, dezinformacích a manipulacích), which they plan to send to children's homes, drop-in clubs and senior centers free of charge.

Distribution of the book to such facilities is supported by the O2 Foundation. For each book that is sold this month by bookshops, the authors will choose an organization to whom to send another copy as a sponsored gift.

Whoever buys the book through the e-shop of the Albatros Media publishing house will be able to choose the recipient organization for a copy. According to surveys, nine out of 10 senior citizens in the Czech Republic who are active online receive different kinds of chain e-mails, and almost half never verify the information they receive if it comes from a favorite source, says O2 Foundation director Anna Kačabová.

Students from the "Choose Your Info" group, during the project, have given lectures for about 6 500 people all over the Czech Republic and in Slovakia, according to Kateřina Křivánková, a representative of the association. So far roughly 5 000 people have bought a copy of the publication.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Dezinformační web, střední školy, student, studie



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