Checkology free for U.S. educators affected by COVID-19 school closures

WASHINGTON (March 18, 2020) — In response to the widespread coronavirus-related closures of schools and libraries, the News Literacy Project (NLP) is offering free Premium licenses for its online platform, the Checkology virtual classroom, to educators in the United States who are or will be engaged in distance learning and to parents in the United States who are homeschooling because of the COVID-19 pandemic. NLP is also providing additional resources to combat the “infodemic” of misinformation about this global public health crisis.

Beginning today and continuing through the end of the 2019-20 school year, Checkology Premium licenses will be available at no charge to these educators and parents, many of whom are embarking on distance learning or homeschooling for the first time and require effective e-learning lessons, resources and guidance. Since Checkology was introduced in 2016, this robust suite of web-based educational tools has been used by teachers and librarians in middle schools and high schools throughout the U.S. to teach students how to know what to trust in today’s challenging information landscape.

“Amid the fear and uncertainty swirling around this pandemic, the ability to distinguish credible information from false and misleading content is literally a matter of life and death,” said Alan C. Miller, NLP’s founder and CEO. “If we want to stop the spread of misinformation, and ultimately the spread of this virus, news literacy education is urgently needed — which is why we are removing any barriers to access for those educators affected by COVID-19.”

The 13 lessons in Checkology Premium cover such topics as misinformation, understanding bias, the watchdog role of the press and the use of algorithms in personalizing what people see online. Premium accounts also include challenges, quizzes and other features that allow students to learn and practice news literacy skills on their own and at their own pace. A set of customization options enables teachers to tailor the platform to meet their students’ needs.

Parents and educators with students whose schools are closed can register for Checkology Premium by visiting the Checkology website; a form to request free access will appear when they click the green button in the COVID-19 pop-up. Educators who already have a Checkology Basic account (four foundational lessons) and are affected by school closings should also fill out that form to upgrade their account to Premium at no charge.

As part of a comprehensive effort to combat misinformation about COVID-19 and the new strain of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes it, NLP is launching a resource page that provides accurate information about this pandemic and debunks misinformation. It will include links to authoritative sources of information, along with free resources for educators, parents, students and the general public, such as downloadable charts and graphics about identifying misinformation. Our website also has tips, tools and quizzes to build news literacy skills that will last long after this public health crisis abates. We will be refreshing this content regularly.

NLP’s news literacy app, Informable, will be updated to include a mode with examples about the current pandemic. The app, which is designed for users of all ages, is available at no charge on the App Store and Google Play.

“We hope these efforts will support educators and parents by providing them with distance-learning and homeschooling resources that equip students with the ability to debunk harmful misinformation, both in general and about this virus,” Miller said. “It’s critical that young people  understand the vital importance of verified information, especially during a time of crisis.”

About the News Literacy Project

The News Literacy Project, a nonpartisan national education nonprofit, empowers educators to teach students the skills they need to become smart, active consumers of news and information and engaged, informed participants in civic life.