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FAQs to our online verification course

First Draft launches its online verification course

What is verification training for journalists?

In this course, we’ll teach you the steps involved in verifying the eyewitness media, fabricated websites, visual memes and manipulated videos that emerge on social media. The course is designed so that anyone can take the course from start to finish online, or educators can take elements and integrate into existing classroom teaching. For newsroom training managers, we hope the you can encourage your staff to take the course online, or you can take individual videos and tutorials and use during brown-bag lunches.

Why is it important to verify information online?

The ability to verify online information is essential to the modern journalist. Increasingly stories depend on information found online, often on social media. The origin of any piece of information is an essential part to any story. You need to know who created a photo, video, or website – and their intentions for creating it – in order to report the whole story.

Is the training only for journalists?

Our verification training is aimed at journalists, but we believe that anyone who is curious about the veracity and origin of what they’re seeing online will be interested in this course.

Who may take the course?

We’re giving our Partner Network exclusive access to the curriculum from October to January 2018. Our Partners include some of the most prominent names in verification, so we expect to get useful feedback on how to refine the course. After January 2018, we will open the course to anyone who would like to take it, with journalists and journalism students getting priority in the registration process.

When will the course be open to anyone who wants to take it?

We plan to open the curriculum up to everyone in January 2018, with verified journalists getting priority in the registration process.

What kinds of things will I learn in this course?

In this course, you will learn:

  • How to set up and effectively use the best tools for verifying digital content,
  • How to investigate a source’s digital footprint to ensure authenticity,
  • How to verify datetime stamps to accurately situate content in time and
  • How to geo-locate photos and videos from metadata and visual features.

How is the course set up?

The training course is divided into five units:

  1. Getting started with verification
  2. Verification as process
  3. Investigating digital footprints
  4. Learning time and date stamps
  5. Understanding geo-location

Each unit begins with learning objectives and a course outline, so you’ll know what to expect from each unit. From there, we use a mixture of video tutorials, video case studies, group tasks and discussions, reading and tool lists and interactive features to test what you’ve learned.

Do I have to be logged in to access the course?

Logging into the system is necessary to access the curriculum dashboard. Being logged in allows you to track your progress. (Be sure to click those boxes on the reading and tools list as you progress through the course.) You can also favorite and reassemble resources to create your own curriculum.

Do I have to go in sequence?

We’ve designed the course with a recommended sequence, so that people who have no or limited experience in verification may learn everything they need to know. However, we understand that some people may already know the basics of image verification, and may only be interested in geo-location, so students can skip around the curriculum as they see fit.

How is the course taught?

The course includes tutorials, case study videos, assessments and interactive quizzes. We have a recommended sequence in which to take the course, but also allow students to skip around if they like.

What if I’d like to teach from these materials?

We have designed this curriculum to work for upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses. We welcome your use of these materials for your course, so long as the First Draft and Dr. Claire Wardle are credited on the syllabus and in all visual and printed presentations. All derivative materials must also incorporate the First Draft logo and copyright. Email us to get your students access to our curriculum dashboard.

What if I’d like to teach from only some of these materials?

Our system allows you to design your own course and deliver that course to your students. Email us to get your students access to our curriculum dashboard.

Are these materials under a creative commons license?

Yes, we are using this creative commons license which allows the following:

Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

NonCommercial — You may not use the material for commercial purposes.

NoDerivatives — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material.

What is the best way to take the course?

We recommend taking the course on a desktop computer or laptop, so that you can have a larger screen in which to work on your new verification techniques.

Is the course available in a language other than English?

Currently, our curriculum is only available in English. However, we are committed to translating our materials into Arabic, French, German and Spanish, and will add these languages next. Please subscribe to our newsletter to learn when we translate the course.

Is there a cost to take the course?

The course is currently free of charge.

Is there a certificate for this course?

We do not have a certificate at the moment, but, if our Partners indicate a desire for one, we will look into the possibility.

Who developed the course?

The course was developed by Dr. Claire Wardle. Claire is the Executive Director of First Draft and a co-founder of one of First Draft’s founding partners, Eyewitness Media Hub. She holds a PhD in Communications from the University of Pennsylvania and has taught verification in universities and newsrooms around the world. Here’s more about how Claire came to verification, and why she’s remains excited to teach these skills.

What is this organization’s mission?

First Draft is dedicated to improving skills and standards in the reporting and sharing of information that emerges online. We provide practical and ethical guidance in how to find, verify and publish content sourced from the social web.

First Draft was formed as a nonprofit coalition of nine Founding Partners in June 2015 to address challenges of trust and truth in the digital age. In September 2016, we expanded our coalition with a Partner Network to help inform and scale our work, and to highlight the importance of collaboration. Here’s more about our organization—including partners, funders and staff.

Who are the instructors?

Dr. Claire Wardle is the lead instructor for the curriculum. She is the executive director of First Draft and is a co-founder of one of First Draft’s founding partners, Eyewitness Media Hub. She holds a PhD in Communications from the University of Pennsylvania and has taught verification in universities and newsrooms around the world. Here’s more about how Claire came to verification, and why she’s remains excited to teach these skills.

The curriculum also incorporates lessons from other experts in online verification. They’ll showcase the techniques and tools they use for their jobs.

First Draft launches its online verification course

A project of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center, First Draft News is an open-access site that provides practical and ethical guidance in how to find, verify and publish content sourced from the social web.