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'It's A Necessity': Miami-Dade Teachers Learn How To Spot Misinformation Online


At the height of an election cycle that's been plagued with misinformation, Miami-Dade teachers learn how to identify it — and share that skill with their students.

Earlier this month, the president’s son Eric Trumptweeted out a photo showing Ice Cube and 50 Cent wearing hats that appear to say: “Trump 2020.”

But the photo was doctored. In the real one, the rappers' heads were donned with sports logos, not political slogans.

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The recent instance of misinformation circulating online became a case study for a group of about 40 Miami-Dade County educators who attended a virtual training called NewsLitCamp in late October. The camp took place at the height of an election cycle during which voters — especially Spanish-speakers in Florida — have been inundated with misinformation and disinformation.

Read More: A reader’s guide to fighting misinformation and disinformation this election season

“With social media being so prevalent, and misinformation being so good at targeting our emotions, we tend to react to something online, instead of taking our time and responding and really kind of exploring it a bit deeper,” said Miriam Romais, senior manager of education and training at the News Literacy Project.

The nonprofit runs trainings for educators around the country through partnerships with local news organizations. Univision was involved in the Miami-Dade County camp.

Romais said she wants teachers and students to analyze information they encounter online by asking the following questions: “Is there transparency? Is there accuracy? Has it been verified? What are the sources?”

Silvia Villacis looks forward to passing her new skills on to her students. She teaches civics at West Miami Middle School.

“If you don't bother to talk about what's real, what's not real, what's trustworthy, authentic, … you're doing a disservice to them,” Villacis said, referring to her students.

“It's not a choice anymore. It's a necessity.”

Jessica Bakeman is Director of Enterprise Journalism at WLRN News, and she is the former senior news editor and education reporter. Her 2021 project "Class of COVID-19" won a national Edward R. Murrow Award.
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