App review by Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2020
Informable
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Informable

Spot fake news, sharpen media literacy skills with speedy quizzes

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Grades
7–12
Subjects & Skills
Critical Thinking

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Pros: Simple questions (is this an ad or not? is this news or opinion?) help kids think critically about what they see online.

Cons: There's limited content and only some of it gets updated, so students may be reluctant to replay.

Bottom Line: A solid starting point to support critical-thinking habits and media literacy skills.

Invite your students to play solo or in pairs, potentially on their own devices. When they're done playing, ask students which questions were especially tricky for them. What made some questions easy and others hard? Were particular categories more difficult than others?  Have students identify the clues they used to make their decisions, and go through the explanation of the correct answers together.

Once your students have exhausted all of the built-in questions, invite them to create their own. Use images, posts, and videos from their favorite social media sites and invite them to work in teams to challenge their classmates. Talk about how these four modes might help your students develop their own mental checklist for media literacy. How can they tell if something is an ad or not? How might they check if something is true? What sources can they rely on, and which sources should they question? Encourage students to bring in examples they find that might be tricky to make sense of so that they can continue to apply their skills. 

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Informable is a media literacy app from the nonprofit News Literacy Project that challenges users to think critically about online content. The 10-question quizzes feature real internet content, including YouTube videos, Instagram posts, screen captures from TikTok, and traditional narrative news stories. In the midst of sponsored content, false evidence, and opinion-based statements, your goal is to identify news. Each mode focuses on a particular distinction -- ad or not, evidence or not, "checkable" or not, and news versus opinion. A special "mix-up mode" includes questions that ask users to consider all four distinctions. Users can create an account to save progress, earn a high score, and appear on the app's public leaderboard, or they can play without creating an account. Users earn points for speed and accuracy, and they can review their responses and an explanation of the correct answers at the end of each level.

The best thing about Informable is how much it feels like being online. Sometimes the clue you'll need to spot sponsored content doesn't appear until the very end of a makeup tutorial video, or it's buried deep in the caption of an Instagram post -- and maybe that's the point. To get these questions right, you can't be a passive internet user: You have to look closely, pay attention, and think critically. The content here is solid, and it's a great starting point for discussion about critical media literacy topics. One drawback is that there's a limited number of questions and it may not be much fun to replay these levels, though the developer indicates that they plan to upload new "mix-up mode" questions several times a year. However, it's likely that there will be enough content for your classroom's needs, given the different levels in each category. But a short visual lesson on spotting clues in each category before students jump into the quizzes would add some value. Overall, there's great potential here for helping students (and adults, frankly) develop keener eyes for questionable content and strong habits of mind for engaging with the media they consume.

Overall Rating

Engagement

Sample social media posts (celebrity Instagram posts! TikToks!) will reel kids in as they consider familiar content in a new way, and different levels will keep them challenged.

Pedagogy

Earning points requires thinking critically, looking closely, and paying attention -- all great skills that can be instantly transferred to real life.

Support

Two quick intro screens outline how to play, and a progress bar tracks the number of questions you've answered correctly.


Common Sense reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member

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