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Digital Media Literacy in EDMO Round Table: HDMO

Digital Media Literacy in EDMO Round Table: HDMO

This interview is part of the ”Digital Media Literacy in EDMO Round Table’‘ interview series that will be published every month to highlight the work of the 14 EDMO hubs. Conducted by the Media & Learning Association (MLA).

HDMO – Hungarian Hub Against Disinformation. Krisztina Nagy, Founder of Idea Foundation, Lawyer and Media Literacy teacher
HDMO – Hungarian Hub Against Disinformation. Krisztina Nagy, Founder of Idea Foundation, Lawyer and Media Literacy teacher

Who are the leading players in Hungary when it comes to promoting media literacy?

In Hungary, the development of media literacy in the public education system is not sufficiently emphasised. The state’s involvement is limited to a few state-supported programmes and there is no coordinated state involvement in this area. A few NGOs and news media outlets are involved in media literacy, mainly in the form of non-formal education.

In his 2016 report on the state of media education, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights wrote that “the public education system shows the most intention to provide media education, but much less results”. Although the National Curriculum sets out media literacy as one of the development areas and educational objectives, this development objective is presented in the framework of several subjects in the curriculum system without proper coordination. The problem is the lack of qualified teachers with the appropriate competences and of appropriate teaching materials. A comprehensive, state-led study on media education in public schools in 2019 found that more than half of public schools do not provide media education. The systemic problems identified by the Commissioner in 2016 have not been addressed since then.

There are some state initiatives, such as the Digital Pedagogical Methodology Centre or the Digital Theme Week, which also provide materials related to media literacy, although this is not their specific focus. The Media Authority’s Media Education Centre (Magicvalley), has programmes and teaching materials for teachers, which are popular with teachers. They offer one-day experiential programmes for children in three cities across the country, which offer a great introduction to media literacy but do not address systemic problems in media education.There are a few NGOs such as the Televele Media Education Association, or the Idea Foundation, which is also a member of the HDMO and helps to develop media literacy through curriculum development and teacher training. The Visual Word Foundation is involved in this development through its programmes. Among the programmes run by media outlets are the Telex Academy of the telex.hu major news portal, which aims to develop news literacy, and the atlatszo.hu investigative portal’s Deception Hunter programme. Among the business players, Telekom and Vodafone’s Foundation run media literacy programmes.

Do you have any idea as to how media-literate people are generally? Are there any types of measures that can be used to assess this over time?

There is no comprehensive research in Hungary to measure the media literacy of Hungarian citizens. According to the Media Literacy Index 2023 produced by the Open Society Institute in Sofia, Hungary is ranked 27th out of 35 countries surveyed. One of the reasons for this is the steadily declining press freedom in Hungary, as 40% of the index is considered according to the assessment of the state of press freedom in the given country.

What are the main challenges you face in promoting media literacy in the country?

Hungary does not have a comprehensive media literacy policy, and the development of media literacy is not given adequate priority among public policy issues. The activity of the state is fragmented, and there is a lack of coordinated cooperation between state actors in the field. The general problems of the education system (overloaded, outdated National Curriculum, under-paid teachers, low level of autonomy in schools, extreme centralisation of the education system) mean that media literacy is not sufficiently developed in the context of school education. Media literacy development is poorly integrated into teacher training and teacher education. NGOs providing media education are under-resourced.

What value do you think EDMO and the network of EDMO hubs in particular bring to the challenge of fighting disinformation and promoting media literacy in Hungary?

The network of EDMO hubs is an important source of information and knowledge. Learning about each other’s activities and programmes provides inspiration and practical help for the implementation of media literacy programmes in Hungary. Professional dialogue through the EDMO network also facilitates the organisation of joint programmes, activities, and research across Member States. As a member of HDMO responsible for the development of media literacy, Idea has the opportunity to find suitable partners for future projects.

What types of media literacy activities have been organised by HDMO since it was set up?

We implement a diverse set of media literacy activities in the HDMO project. The activities are coordinated by the Idea Foundation, but part of the work is carried out by AFP. AFP delivers fact-checking training for local journalists during the programme. The first training session was held in Budapest in early September last year.

The Idea Foundation held accredited teacher training courses in 2023. The blended training is a six-month course consisting of three phases. In the first two months, teachers will learn the skills needed to develop critical media literacy through an online course. This will be followed by an offline attendance training to deepen the knowledge acquired in the online course and to prepare teachers for teaching practice. For that, teachers receive a complete teaching package of 8 sessions, with lesson plans, videos, and other teaching materials. We organised the training in three cities in the countryside: in Debrecen, Győr and Kerepes, and in Budapest. The Budapest training was also attended by teachers from the countryside. Our aim is to make the training accessible all over the country.

We’ve been building a community of trained teachers since 2019, because we want critical media literacy to be an ongoing process in these schools. The community provides an opportunity to bring new teaching materials to teachers for teaching the subject in schools and to offer inspiration for classroom practice in developing critical media literacy.

The other main activity was the launch of the Detekto e-learning platform. Idea Foundation also develops online learning materials for children and young people. The curriculum contains explanatory videos, interactive tasks, which can be used to practice the detection, verification, and interpretation of false information. The material will appear in four packages up till 2025.

The first three online lessons were made available in November 2023 and the next three courses will be made available in April 2024. An important part of the development process is the creation of a group of teenagers aged 13-16 who are actively involved in the content development. The approach of the teaching material is that the development is based on the constructive learning paradigm. The knowledge is embedded in learning by doing practices, where knowledge is built up through feedback on responses. Through the online lessons, students can practice detecting and interpreting false information through content that is similar to the content they encounter in social media.

What plans do you have in relation to media literacy for the next 12 months for HDMO?

More teacher training courses will be organised in 2024. In the training group that started in February, 9 out of 14 teachers will come from rural towns. The last six chapters of Detekto will also be prepared along the following two major themes:

Development of critical thinking skills and the toolset of fact-checking. Development objectives of the first topic are: raise information consumption awareness; enhance reflective behaviour; introducing and applying cognitive strategies and tools. As the second topic, the objective is to improve ability to use various online tools that help the process on information verification.

AFP will develop verification tools and tutorials in 2024.

In autumn 2024, we will organise two media campaigns, which are already in preparation. One campaign is aimed at increasing the resilience of 13–18 year-olds to online disinformation and the other at the older age group. The campaign for adolescents will be planned in cooperation with a dedicated teen group. The campaign will be developed by the students after several months of campaign design training. The most suitable campaign design will be selected together with the advertising experts leading the training.

For the campaign for older people, we work closely with HDMO’s fact-checking member Lakmusz. In this case, we also involve the target older people in the campaign design and jointly develop the educational materials and campaign messages.

Krisztina Nagy
Krisztina Nagy
Founder of Idea Foundation, Lawyer and Media Literacy teacher