‘The Avengers’ of fact-checking: 200 ways to teach critical thinking and not die trying

By Ariel Merpert and Noelia Guzmán

Education coordinator and researcher at Chequeado

For those of us who are fans of superhero movies, “The Avengers” represents a milestone. Most of the main characters in these films were solitary heroes who, in the best scenario, had a sidekick.

What can “The Avengers” tell us about teaching critical thinking?

The world is on the verge of collapse. The Earth is near a cataclysm of epic proportions and all alternatives have been exhausted. There is no place for a single person (or alien) to save our world. And as superhero movies usually show, the only hope is that a group of individuals combine their many talents to defeat evil.

What if the evil is misinformation? What if what is happening is that a good portion of the information that we consume is false? What if that made us form opinions based on incorrect or adulterated information?

Does this sound familiar?

Misinformation is already a global phenomenon. Until now the conversation about how to stop it typically focuses on what social media platforms should do to stop its spread.

But probably there is no other long-term solution other than to teach the population skills to protect themselves and participate critically in the public debate. And for the past few years, organizations and experts in a variety of fields have been working to create new ways to teach skills related to that.

But since many of them come from different ecosystems, the way they describe the problem and the terms they use to define it are not the same, and they do not usually talk or interact with each other. For example, those who teach science use strategies to teach how to separate and classify relevant data from other information in an experiment. This skill is also fundamental in the process of differentiating facts and data from opinions and ideas when we are deciding if we share something in our social media feed.

To make it easier to teach these critical skills around the world, Chequeado and the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN) created EduCheckMap. It is a database that maps institutions that have developed strategies, resources and research about media literacy, data literacy, fact-checking, disinformation, and critical thinking.

With the creation of EduCheckMap, we have two goals:

  1. To create a new ecosystem that allows those who work on these issues in different fields to begin working together.
  2. To let teachers, fact-checkers, parents, students, teens and anyone interested in participating in this global educational effort access the best teaching resources, projects, research and other content produced by all these institutions.

EduCheckMap already has 200 activities, resources, videos, games, research and other types of materials belonging to 57 organizations from 29 countries on five continents. It is a living database, which will grow over time with the contributions of those who join this ecosystem and add their contributions, materials, and initiatives, wherever they may be. It is alive, because it is under construction, and always will be.

If you are part of the educational community, EduCheckMap will help you find the best strategies to teach about misinformation. If you are a researcher or you are trying to understand some related phenomenon, it will help you to find partners who are working in the field or in topics related to it. If you are a fact-checker, it will be an opportunity to optimize what you are doing and offer your community new opportunities to contribute to your cause.

On the occasion of the third annual International Fact-Checking Day, we have highlighted 10 innovative educational resources that can be used by secondary school teachers.

For those of us who are fans of superhero movies, “The Avengers” marked a milestone. With it we could enjoy watching all those superheroes play as a team and what they can achieve together.

Those of us who created EduCheckMap have the feeling of having created the headquarters of a similar league of heroes. Here you can meet with this community and think of new ways to teach critical thinking.

By working together, each of you could become a superhero.