Tuscany hosts FIDO Partnership Meeting
Last month, in Tuscany, Italy, and more specifically in the famous Pisa, the partners of the international project FIDO (from the English acronym: "Fighting Fake News and Disinformation"), funded by the European Commission under the Erasmus Plus programme, met for the first time.
The meeting took place from 18 to 19 of May at the premises of Aforisma, a local adult education organisation and project coordinator. Although the participants have established close links through regular monthly sessions, the transnational meeting has so far been postponed for epidemiological reasons. The first face-to-face meeting was therefore exciting and the partners full of expectations.
The two-year FIDO project aims to improve the digital literacy of older adults through the development of three training modules, which the partners have been creating since last March. The first face-to-face meeting allowed technical and analytical experts as well as trainers and educators from Italy, Poland, Greece and Slovenia to discuss the results of the project so far, exchange experiences and plan the next activities.
"Living Labs” come to life in European cities
In the first session, partners presented the results of workshops for adults, which we called "Living Labs". Aimed at older adults, the workshops provided information, teaching, web browsing and discussion within an overarching theme: identifying false and misleading online content.
The workshops were a true laboratory experiment, creating a stimulating learning environment, aiming in particular to raise awareness of the phenomenon of fake content online and to equip participants with specific digital competences. For all of us, the workshops were a kind of pilot study, so we were all well equipped and anticipating the response of the participants. Let me add that the partners could choose from a colorful range of topics to deliver the workshops: disinformation, trolling, pseudoscience, data manipulation, deepfakes, etc.
We have already reported on the course and content of the workshops organised by our Slovenian partners, the Adult Education Center in Zasavje Region (Zasavska ljudska univerza - ZLU), which was supported technically and in terms of content by the Ljubljana-based video production company, Rusaalka. In this text, also for the sake of sharing experiences and insights into foreign classrooms for adults, I would like to present the partners' experiences.
The Greek partners, IDEC and Dafni Kek, held workshops in the port city of Piraeus and in the Peloponnesian capital, Patras.
"Participants came to the classroom full of expectations. Some of them were already familiar with the content," said Antonio Gennarelli, project manager of IDEC Greece in Piraeus. He said they decided to hold workshops on disinformation and data manipulation. Similarly, Angeliki Giannakopoulou, Project Manager at the Peloponnesian organisation Dafni Kek, reported on the engagement and commitment.
"The group was mixed, with people with different educational backgrounds, but what they had in common was that they were very active, among them politically engaged individuals and activists," said the young educator.
Both partners informed us that the time scheduled for the workshops was too short to run them and that the participants were still eager to discuss, and were already interested for the dates of the new workshops.
The Italian partners Aforisma and QZR jointly implemented the workshops and reported a great interest from the participants.
"We had too many applicants, so we had to reduce the group and split it into two workshops," said Rok Vukčevič, who is the manager of the FIDO project employed at the Italian organisation Aforisma.
After summarising impressions from the workshops, the partners agreed that the module for trainers will now need to be adapted to the test results in order to give users the best possible tool. Of course, we expect adult educators to be flexible in this respect and to adapt the tool to the local and cultural context, the learning group and digital trends. At the end of the two-year project (March 2023), the material will be freely available to anyone interested in raising awareness and educating adults about digital competences.
Handbook in progress, game in development
In addition to the aforementioned trainers' manual, which will cover the tactical and methodological approach to delivering the workshops, a manual is being developed under the monitoring of the Polish University of Humanities and Economics in Lodz (AHE), which will explain in soft theoretical language all the topics relevant to this project, such as fact-checking, political motivations for creating misleading content, the workings of logarithms on social networks, etc.
The partners have been working on the material together for several months and the academic Izabela Walczak has been helping with the didactic and content editing of the text.
"I would now ask the partners to accompany the texts with appropriate graphics or photo material to make the handbook more understandable and visually interesting," the Pole told at the meeting.
Luigi Bevilacqua, a computer scientist from QZR, an organisation in Lucca that creates computer games for adults, also proved to be up-to-date and innovative. Together with a colleague, the Tuscan computer developers presented the progress of the serious computer game, which is the third module of the FIDO project.
"The current design of the game is graphically similar to applications such as Messenger, Telegram or Whatsapp, which are already familiar to users. When an individual would switch to the chat function, he would find himself in a bundle of fake news, and his task would be to get out of this trap by recognising real content," Luigi presented.
The partners agreed that the game was taking a great shape and also contributed ideas to the content development of this digital module.
Similar to the learning tool above, the manual and the adult game will be freely available to everyone at the end of the project, and the partners are looking forward to sharing their expertise with the public. They will first be able to do this at the end of the project during the multipliers events organised in different countries. The event will also be available online.
The FIDO partnership characterised by its expertise
FIDO is characterised by a diverse range of experts: partners come from academia, the digital, film and media sectors, and a wide range of adult education institutions. In addition to multidisciplinarity, the FIDO partnership is characterised by good communication, coherence and complementarity of expertise. The partners are open to learning from each other, which is one of the reasons why the project has proved to be professionally sophisticated and could serve as a good case study for other adult education institutions.
Technological advances are causing major shifts in society and with projects such as FIDO, older adults can also join the new era of digital transformation that is an inevitable part of our lives. Adult educators are here to support adult learners with knowledge and to introduce them to these kinds of topics in an interesting way, equip them with digital competences and enable them to be more attentive, cautious and aware when surfing the web.
Katja Lihtenvalner is an adult educator, media analyst and journalist. In the FIDO project she works as a media content researcher, educational content design consultant, journalist and videographer under the auspices of the Ljubljana-based video production company, Rusaalka.