Learn to Discern (IREX)

Curriculum Candidate: IREX's Learn to Discern (2020)

The International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX) is an international, nonprofit organization that specializes in global education and development. IREX works with partners in more than 100 countries. IREX works "with partners around the world to promote more just, prosperous, and inclusive societies in four areas essential to progress: empowering youth, cultivating leaders, strengthening institutions, and extending access to quality education and information."

IREX's Learn to Discern (see Fact Sheet) is known for its approach to helping citizens recognize disinformation and fake news. The curriculum is "used around the world in public health initiatives, classrooms, libraries, community centers, fellowship programs, peer-to-peer networks, and other contexts." has been "featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, CNN, Columbia Journalism Review, Journal of Media Literacy Education (PDF, 836 KB), NPR, Slate, and other media outlets." It was first developed for Ukraine, with Russian propaganda in the background:

The Learn to Discern: Media Literacy Trainer’s Manual is a "train the trainer" PDF form. "It provides step-by-step guidance and interactive exercises for helping learners of all ages recognize why and how manipulative content works and gain skills to reject half-truths, clickbait, hate speech, and fakes. These issues are especially important for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and preparing citizens for elections."

Curriculum Topics

  • The information and media space and its features: Navigating different types of platforms and content, distinguishing between facts and opinions, recognizing professional journalism, and more.

  • Misinformation and manipulation: Why everyone is vulnerable, and how to recognize and overcome biased information.

  • Fighting misinformation: Practical skills and tools for recognizing and rejecting manipulation, assessing credibility, and selecting objective content.

Our Take

As a multi-agency, international project developed for real world contexts (democracies under threat from misinformation), the perspectives and instructional design expertise behind these resources are formidable and worth exploring.

The implementation recommendations below provide a quick look at the scope of the curriculum, covering News Literacy (Unit 1), Misinformation Psychology (Unit 2) and Digital Media Literacy (Unit 3). One lesson, Types of Content, is extracted as a single PDF for examination, with a chart sampled below, to indicate content depth and instructional approach.

The resource itself (a PDF training guide) is probably best used for trainers of media literacy teachers (or communities of practice training themselves) rather than for direct application to K-12 classrooms.

Implementation Recommendations

Content Depth Sample: Types of Content