Higher Education Course: Introduction and Overview

3/6 ECT “Introduction to Media and Information Literacies” example course design for higher education

PS! All 16 weeks of the example course with necessary materials can be found under the “Materials for higher education” subpage.

If you are working in higher education and are planning to design a 3 or 6 ECT course that focuses on the basics/introduction to media and information literacies, here are some structures you could follow. 1 ECT= 26 hours of work, so the 3 ECT version requires 78 hours of work from students and 6 ECT requires 156 hours of work. 

Classes, active participationIndependent work
3 ECT course16 lectures/seminars (32 hours of work)56 hours (3-4 hours per week)
6 ECT course16 lectures/seminars (32 hours of work)124 hours (7-8 hours per week)

The introductory course lays the foundation for understanding media systems, disinformation, and influence activities – all forming the foundation of (digital) media and information literacies, crucial for contemporary democratic societies. It introduces the student to the theories and practices of information society, media, journalism, and social media. To act as responsible, safe, and engaged citizens in the networked public, individuals need to build digital resilience and consistently develop their media and digital literacy skills. This course is dedicated to developing students’ digital and media agency to be able to make use of the various affordances of the digital mediatized life as well as to mitigate potential risks technology-saturated societies uphold. The course has a special emphasis on the work and skills of contemporary journalism but is relevant for most professions that have to constantly update their digital/media and information literacy competencies – accessing information, analyzing it, creating one’s message, reflecting one’s consumption, and being socially responsible. 

After the completion of this course, the student: 

  1. Seeks and successfully finds reliable academic information, using various information search strategies.     
  2. Is familiar with the vocabulary on related topics, is able to discuss and critically analyse some of the contemporary issues of the information society and mediatization processes.
  3. Understands the main media and communication theories, is able to connect theories to practices.    
  4. Differentiates between disinformation, misinformation, and malinformation but also recognizes the limits of such categorization and the potential for re-categorization.  
  5. Understands the potential effects of information disorder – on micro, meso, and macro levels.
  6. Can independently work through reading materials and discuss with others in seminars later on. 
  7. Can use various e-learning opportunities and is reflexive about the experience, has used e-learning platforms for cooperation and group work.

Typically a semester will have 15-20 weeks of active classes (often followed by an exam session), so here is an example of how the course could be built up on average. You can find the detailed course plan with the first columns describing a 3 ECT course base and the last column on the right adding tasks and materials for an additional 3 ECTs down below. All materials can be found under the “Materials for higher education” subpage.

weekTopicActivities in class and independentlyReading materialsadditional work for 6 ECT course
1Introduction, overview of the course, mapping the expectations and agreeing upon common rules.2h: Independent work task after the class, finding 6 types of information.1h: Look at the glossary of MIL. Which terms are completely new to you? Write them up in the study diary.5h: Find one recent (max 5 years) academic article about (digital) media and information literacies. First, without help from LLM (AI): What do the authors conclude? How would you use LLM (AI) to understand the conclusion? Do it.  Does it line up with what you understood originally? 
2How our brain works, cognitive biases2h: Independent work after lecture/ seminar (5+ cognitive biases)21h: Read – Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking fast and slow. Macmillan.
3SeminarIn class group work: match propaganda techniques and cognitive biases.
4Mediatization, (social) media logics, platforms1h: Independent work before class: watch a recorded lecture about four big media theories (around 30 minutes) and take notes. Lecture is recorded in 2023 by Maria Murumaa-Mengel, for Uni Tartu course: 4h: Read after: Van Dijck, J., & Poell, T. (2013). Understanding social media logic. Media and communication, 1(1), 2-14.
Nölleke, D., Scheu, A. M., & Birkner, T. (2021). The other side of mediatization: Expanding the concept to defensive strategies. Communication Theory, 31(4), 737-757
7h: Oliver, M. B., Raney, A. A., & Bryant, J. (Eds.). (2020). Media effects: Advances in Theory and Research, 4th Edition. Routledge.
Summarize three chapters.
5Media representations1h: Independent work before: media effects in everyday life.  
10h: Media biases – small research project. 
6Mediascapes, platforms, systemsGroup work in class: task about your country’s media houses, most used social media platforms, outlets, websites etc. Who owns them? How do they make money? What laws do they have to follow?5h: Check out the course Very Verified (by IREX), available in different languages. Time yourself with Toggle (or some other productivity/timer app) – spend 5 hours learning on that course. Write down notes and a reflection – what did you learn, what was the most valuable, what was too basic, what was entertaining etc. What do you know more about now?
7Journalism and journalistic work practices3h: Independent work before class: how to become a journalist?
8Content creators and influencers. In class analysis materials: 3h: Independent work: Find a recent academic text about influencers and how the phenomenon of influencers “works”. Strategies they use, platform politics, influence they have, cultural changes they bring with them. One-slide overview of the text
9Audiovisual content2h: after class independent work. Deradicalizing a friend who is a conspiracy theorist.  10-15h: Group assignment. In self-selected groups of 2-4 people prepare a well-executed video presentation.  
11Problems in information disorder2h: Before class independent work: 1-slide recap: map your ideas – which problems have arised because of information disorder? Think in three levelt – micro, meso and macro. Search additional informanton if necessary. Bring examples as links to news stories, social media posts, websites etc. 
12Mis/dis/malinformation2h: after class independent work. Deradicalizing a friend who is a conspiracy theorist. 6h: Wardle, C., & Derakhshan, H. (2017). Information disorder: Toward an interdisciplinary framework for research and policymaking. Strasbourg: Council of Europe.
Wardle, C. (2023). Misunderstanding Misinformation. Issues in Science and Technology, 39(3).
13Propaganda2h: Before class: read one chapter (will be assigned) from Jowett & O’Donnell’s book. Jowett, G. S., & O’Donnell, V. (2018). Propaganda & persuasion. Sage publications.8h: Summarize three chapters from Jowett & O’Donnel (2018) in a 1-slide format.
14Resilience and different literacies2h: Sue, D. W., Calle, C. Z., Mendez, N., Alsaidi, S., & Glaeser, E. (2020). Microintervention strategies: What you can do to disarm and dismantle individual and systemic racism and bias. John Wiley & Sons.4h: Before class: read the text (Sue et al, 2020), from the field of race studies, but theoretical concepts can be contextualized. We ask you to to exactly that! Take the concepts of microaffirmations, microprotectionsand microchallenges and describe how would these strategies look like, what actions would they entail in information activism that is specifically aimed at fighting disinformation about the Russian war against Ukraine, anti-vaxx movement, QAnon or other harmful networks of disinfo. Present in 500+ words and an illustrative table/graph/figure.
15Seminar5h: Before seminar: Find one academic article that is focused on countering info disorder (mis/dis/malinfo etc).
16Presentations, wrap-up14h: Final group task presentations.