What is Checkology and How Can It Be Used to Teach? Tips & Tricks

(Image credit: Checkology)

Checkology is a platform created by the News Literacy Project as a way to educate young people about how to use news media.

This is specifically tailored to education with a focus on teaching students to think about how they are consuming news and media online.

The idea is to use real-world news and apply a system of checks so that students can learn to better evaluate stories and sources, rather than blindly believing everything they see, read, and hear online.

A selection of modules are available to allow teachers to work with the class, or for students to work individually. So could this be a useful tool for you education institution?

What is Checkology?

Checkology is an all-too-rare tool that aims to teach students how to evaluate the ever-increasing mass of media that is being directed at them on a daily basis. It helps empower students to better recognize truth.


(Image credit: Checkology)

By using real-world news and a system of checks, carried out as part of learning modules, students are taught to do this for themselves. 

There are four key areas covered: knowing what to believe as true, navigating the media world, filtering news and other media, and exercising civil freedoms.

The idea is to not only have students distinguish fake news from real stories but to actually be able to evaluate the credibility of a story's source -- so they can decide for themselves what to believe.

It all sounds a bit like training everyone to be a journalist, and to some extent that is what this is doing. However, these abilities can be applied beyond journalism and writing classes as a valuable life skill for all. With journalists from The New York Times, Washington Post, and Buzzfeed all working as panelists on the website, this is a powerful and up-to-date system that applies even with the pace of media changing as it is.

How does Checkology work?

Checkology uses modules to teach students how to evaluate real-world news. Pick from a list of module options in which you will then be told how long the module is, the difficulty level, and the lesson host -- all at a glance. 

Then scroll down for more in-depth details on what the module consists of. Select Next to begin and you'll be taken into the video lesson.


(Image credit: Checkology)

The video is divided into sections with video guidance, written sections, example media, and questions -- all controlled by tapping the Next icon.

In one example there is a string of social media post results you can follow. This is then punctuated with a question in which there is an open answer box to type in a response. This way of working through the module helps students work individually, or as a class to progress.

While the basic modules teach through fictitious situations, the system can also be used for actual news, with a Check Tool, to apply these techniques in the real world.

What are the best Checkology features?

Checkology features some great modules that are free to access and use, which will teach students of all abilities how to better manage media. A lot of the focus is on getting to the source and using that to better understand truth. This doesn't take lateral reading, going beyond the source, into account perhaps as much as it could in some instances.


(Image credit: Checkology)

The Check Tool is a very helpful feature that lets students work independently through a news or media source so they can better navigate lies, embellishment, and truth with a level of confidence that this support offers.

The modules are designed so teachers can lead the class through each one as a group or individuals can work on their own. This flexibility is helpful in allowing everyone to go at their individual pace. The evaluation tool allows teachers to see student submissions and can even be integrated with the current LMS in use.

Professional development opportunities are also available for teachers, curated by Checkology and the News Literacy Project, as well as extra teaching materials and transcripts as needed.

How much does Checkology cost?

Checkology offers its modules for free that can be used by anybody, right away without the need to sign up, pay, or give personal details of any kind.

The whole system is supported entirely by philanthropic donations. Consequently, you will not be asked to pay for anything while using the system. It also means there are no ads or tracking of your details.

Checkology best tips and tricks

Evaluate live
Apply the skills learned in a live news situation as it develops, working as a class to evaluate what to believe as truth based on sources that you assess together.

Bring your own
Have students bring examples or stories -- including a social media hot topic -- so you can follow the thread as a class and work out the truth.

Break out
Take time to stop during the modules to hear from the class about examples of their experiences that are similar -- helping cement the ideas into their understanding.

Luke Edwards is a freelance writer and editor with more than two decades of experience covering tech, science, and health. He writes for many publications covering health tech, software and apps, digital teaching tools, VPNs, TV, audio, smart home, antivirus, broadband, smartphones, cars and much more.