Common Sense Review
Updated March 2017

checkology® Virtual Classroom

Go-to news literacy site is an excellent primer on media issues
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Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating
Not Yet Rated
  • Overview of the modules.
  • Multi-step lessons within modules prompt students with readings, videos, and questions.
  • After reading an article, students answer a question.
  • Teachers can review student progress and work, as well grade it.
  • Various resources offered to educators.
Pros
Unique site allows for exploration of multiple lessons, while the check tool allows students to evaluate credibility of news.
Cons
Lessons can be a bit too long and repetitive at times.
Bottom Line
With "fake news" a pressing concern, checkology's literacy lessons offer essential, if not totally comprehensive, skills to help students evaluate sources.
Stephanie Trautman
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Appealing lessons, videos, and quizzes will entice students' brains to think critically about the media. Some lessons do feel a tad long and can be repetitive.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Students dig into media, navigating today's complex landscape while learning about their rights. The lesson are relevant, although could use more web-specific tactics.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

Modules offer many opportunities to see progress and scores which, combined with teacher feedback, offers great support for learners. There are also some help features if a student gets stuck in a lesson.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

The media landscape has never been more daunting to navigate, and students need help separating fact from fiction. With checkology, teachers can give students some critical tools to evaluate the credibility of information they come across and determine where it's source. Teachers can either curate examples of media (articles, political debates, campaign ads, social media posts) for students to unpack, or have students bring in examples. Then, in conjunction with the checkology lessons, get students to apply critical techniques to the curated media to gain a better understanding of their credibility and provenance.  

In terms of the lessons themselves, teachers can choose to either guide students through lessons and modules as a class, or have them explore modules independently. As students progress through the lessons, teachers should facilitate discussions of the content in conjunction with diving into timely case studies of concrete and relatable media examples. Teachers can also have students use the “check tool” to evaluate a source’s credibility before writing a paper or researching a topic. Take note that the News Literacy Project and checkology offer professional development opportunities for teachers, as well as lesson transcripts and teacher materials. Students are also offered workshops too (in addition to the checkology curriculum), which can be found on the News Literacy Project’s website.

If you're interested in digging in deeper to news and media literacy in your classroom, make sure to check out our Turn Your Students Into Fact-Finding Web Detectives page.

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What's It Like?

checkology® Virtual Classroom is a news and media literacy learning platform created by the News Literacy Project. Checkology's aim is to help students more critically navigate today’s ever-changing media and digital landscape. The site boasts four modules that each contain lessons, student challenges, and discussions. The lessons' panelists are journalists from The New York Times, Buzzfeed, and The Washington Post, to name a few. There's also a “check tool” that allows students to evaluate the credibility of any piece of news they may be uncertain of, following the news literacy principles they learned throughout checkology’s lessons.

There are two versions teachers can use: the first is a basic version designed to be projected in front of the class and directed by the teacher. The second, a premium version, is more student-direct, allowing them to log-in, self-pace, and save work. This premium version also offers some LMS functions where teachers can use a dashboard to monitor student progress and give feedback. 

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Is It Good For Learning?

As one of the few media literacy-focused digital platforms, checkology occupies a useful niche. The lessons use real-world news examples to help students navigate and learn about four key ideas: filtering news and information, exercising civic freedoms, navigating today’s information landscape, and how to know what to believe. By using the “check tool” students will become expert critical thinkers and expert evaluators on a source’s credibility. Checkology will expose kids to videos on today’s pressing issues, particularly how to determine fake news from real news, and how to evaluate the credibility of sources. The lessons are interesting, the videos are relevant, but at times the work can seem monotonous or repetitive for students. There's also a growing critique of checklist-style evaluation of sources which is, in part, a component of the checkology modules. While this model can be helpful to get kids on their way to being media literate, ultimately the web requires a new way of reading -- "lateral reading" -- that goes beyond the source in question. 

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See how teachers are using checkology® Virtual Classroom