Critical Media Literacy: Tackling Information Disorder in the Digital Age​

Organizational unit: Centre for Transferable Skills
Course type: Online course

Living and working in our modern world, we are confronted with a constant stream of ‚alternative facts ‘, propaganda, hoaxes, rumours, and advertising – while it becomes more and more difficult to distinguish fact from fiction to navigate the digital media world successfully.

As recent events around the globe show, the participatory culture of the internet is not only constructive and social but also misused and abused to turn the strengths of a free society into vulnerabilities, ultimately threatening civil rights and freedoms. Efforts to exploit technical, social, economic, and institutional configurations of media can catalyze social change, sow dissent, and challenge the stability of social institutions. Therefore,  in the Digital Age,  Critical Media Literacy is not an option anymore— it has become a mandatory skill for everyone using the internet.

This course introduces you to how to interpret the enormous amounts of information we are exposed to every day, both in traditional media and online.

Our main objective is to support learners in developing critical thinking and reading skills fundamental to becoming well-informed and perceptive citizens.

This course will: 

provide an overview of the concepts of Media Literacy and Information Disorder, and critically approach the term fake news while applying methods for recognizing false information,

provide valuable resources for University students (including prospective teachers),

promote ways of reflecting examples of digital media culture critically, and finally,

present opportunities for analyzing and interpreting the codes, conventions, and ideologies implicit in our media-saturated lives by revealing information about how to become a more critical consumer of the information we encounter every day. The examples provided in this course are taken from Europe and beyond.

The practicals and assessment will include several short quizzes, task-related participation in the discussion forum, and a final essay.

The course consists of the following four modules: 

1.  Introduction. What is Media Literacy, and why is it important? (Media; Literacy; Media Literacy; Communication and Media today; Fake News, Alternative Facts, Information Disorder)

2. Information Disorder: Challenges and Strategies (Elements and Typologies of Information Disorder, How to spot and stop manipulation online;  practical assessment and verification tools; the C-R-A-A-P test to evaluate a website)

3. The Reach and Impact of Disinformation (Actors spreading disinformation; Incentives behind manipulation; Means and tools for manipulation)

4.  Summary and Reflection/The Journey Continues (Final Quiz, Short Essay; Wrapping-Up; Feedback; Take-Away Bag)


The course is self-learning or self-paced, which means that you alone direct the pace and intensity of your engagement with the class. From the moment the course content is activated in ILIAS, it is possible to join the course at any time. Online activation planned for 25th April 2022, closing deadline 25th July 2022.

You can start learning immediately and study according to your schedule throughout the semester until the closing deadline.

The learning contents are accessible to you around the clock, at least as long as you are logged in to ILIAS. The learning content is multimedia-based and goes beyond a mere collection of Pdfs. The entire course work and interactions within the course are carried out entirely via the internet on the ILIAS learning platform. The learning progress is displayed in ILIAS accordingly.

Leading Instructors

Stefan Schustereder, PhD is a teacher, teacher-trainer, consultant, and education practitioner from Düsseldorf.  He holds an M.A. in English and History and a PhD in English culture and literature from the University of Freiburg. He has taught and still teaches for numerous universities in the US, Great Britain, Sweden, Poland, and Germany and has been serving as an education and distant learning expert for the Council of Europe since 2017. He is currently a co-instructor in the Council of Europe’s Master Class “Media and Information Disorder”.

Alina Timofte, MA, is currently a Programme Coordinator and Lecturer at the Centre for Transferable Skills (SQ-Zentrum). She holds an M.A. in German Cultural Studies from the University of Konstanz. Her teaching portfolio includes courses on transferable skills such as Cultural Intelligence, Digital & Media Literacy, and Foreign Languages. She has completed a broad spectrum of advanced training on media literacy offered by institutions such as the Council of Europe (Master Class “Old and New Media and Fake News “, 2019) and Globsec & Center for Media, Data and Society at the Central European University, Budapest.

Form of examination:Several short quizzes, task-related participation in the discussion forum, and a final essay

Course coordinators: Alina Timofte and Dr. Stefan Schustereder

Duration: 25.04 – 25.07 2022

Prerequisites: – There are no prerequisites
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Period: – 25.04 – 25.07 self-paced
Format: Online self-paced course
Number of ERUA Students: 5
Number of ETCS: 3
Language: English
Student Level: All Levels
Application Deadline: 11.04. 2022