The News Literacy Project Witnesses the Effects of Checkology Firsthand with Newsroom Production Students


Othman Muhammad

Newsroom Production student Obed Narcisse discussing his experiences with Checkology to the News Literacy Project’s Vice President for Digital Media, Darragh Worland.

Othman Muhammad, Online Editor-In-Chief

Eight Newsroom Production students demonstrated their use of Checkology, an interactive digital curriculum that helps students evaluate the news value and truth of information, for one of its creators, the News Literacy Project’s Vice President for Digital Media Darragh Worland, January 17.

Newsroom Production teacher Noreen Connolly has been a follower of the News Literacy Project, an organization of eight members, former teachers and journalists, whose mission, according to its website, is to teach middle through high school students “sort fact from fiction in the digital age. When Ms. Connolly learned that the News Literacy Project was allowing teachers to pilot Checkology for free last summer, she immediately took advantage of the offer.

“News literacy is really important because we are inundated with information,” Ms. Connolly said. “As educators, we have to take news literacy very seriously because students need to know how to discern the truthfulness of information they encounter.”

During Fall Term, Ms. Connolly introduced Checkology into her curriculum and was amazed with the product’s results. Not only did Checkology further student engagement, but it also supplemented what she was already teaching.

“Checkology is clear, easy to follow, and a sophisticated interactive online curriculum,” Ms. Connolly said. “My students are learning how to recognize and write quality journalism, and as the teacher I can see how my students are responding to Checkology lessons.”

Ms. Worland was interested to witness Ms. Connolly’s students engage in Checkology firsthand.

With a degree in Broadcasting and Cultural Reporting and Criticism from New York University, Ms. Worland’s experience in multimedia journalism played a major role in the construction of Checkology. Ms. Worland, two other members of the News Literacy Project, and Actual Size, a creative studio in Pittsburgh, helped develop Checkology.

In early 2009, the News Literacy Project introduced its classroom program to schools in New York City. Shortly afterward, the classroom program expanded to Chicago, and later into the District of Columbia. However, it was very time consuming and difficult to send local coordinators to work with teachers across the nation, Ms. Worland said.

“We wanted to take what we were doing on a local level and impact a mass audience.”

The News Literacy project continues its classroom program, but now everyone can get in on the experience.

After a year and a half of hard work, the News Literacy Project debuted Checkology last May. St. Benedict’s began using it in September.

Observing a class of students working on Checkology invigorates and motivates Ms. Worland.

“Seeing students interacting with something we created and connecting the dots to understand what quality journalism is, is the reason I do what I do.”

The News Literacy Project hopes to engage classrooms across the country in the teachings of news literacy through Checkology.

“Reliable information is fundamental to the function of a democracy,” Ms. Worland said. “Someday students will vote, and will hopefully be active members of our society and they’re going to have a say, they’re going to be empowered and knowing how to recognize information that’s credible is empowering.”

Currently, almost 2,500 teachers working with 220,000 registered to use Checkology and the innovative website has reached all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In Newark, Benedict’s student and students at Newark Tech are using Checkology. And the News Production Class has focused on the role of fake news played in the recent election.

“Throughout the presidential election, different news outlets were questioned for the ethics of their journalism,” senior Obed Narcisse said. “I admire Checkology and the way it illustrates how to accurately report and verify information.”

Click here to visit the News Literacy Project’s Website