CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
Navigation Close

New Voices RGU Student Series – Rehana Ali

Category: New Voices, New Voices, RGU Student Series

In the Robert Gordon University Student Series blog, we share the views of RGU students from the MSc in Information and Library Studies course.

Today, we hear from Rehana Ali, a part-time, distance-based student on the Information and Library Studies MSc RGU course. Rehana is passionate about reading for enjoyment and creating a reading culture for all young people through imagination and creativity. Here, Rehana discusses misinformation and what skills librarians can cultivate to tackle the issue.

Rehana is passionate about using imagination and creativity to help create a strong reading culture for all young people.

Misinformation Is Among Us

In the post Covid-19 professional world, what media literacy competences are important for school librarians to develop, in view of how the pandemic has changed the world?

We are doing our young people an injustice by not teaching them the skills to be media literate and nowhere is this more evident than in this pandemic. The misinformation relating to Covid-19 has shown the dangers of having such a heavy reliance on online tools (Spring, 2020 Coronavirus: The Human Cost of Virus Misinformation) but not the skills to use these tools effectively and to the user’s advantage.

There is not a universal definition for media literacy. For example, Ofcom’s definition is ‘the ability to use, understand and create media and communications in a variety of contexts’ (Ofcom, 2020), but this definition is very broad. The European Association of Viewer’s Interest (EAVI) defines it as ‘the ability to access, share, critically evaluate, create and participate in the media’ (Steinberg, 2017). This is more comprehensive as it talks about access to and participation in media. However, it also includes the ability to critically evaluate, and this is key, as this is the foundation on which being media literate rests. All media is created for a reason and to be able to pinpoint those reasons is what will make users critical, perceptive, and smart consumers of media, which in turn will lead users to make more informed choices.

School pupils learn (among many other things) information literacy skills from librarians. They learn strategies for finding, evaluating, and learning from a variety of sources of information (Kuhlthau, 2015). Incorporating media literacy into this (to spot a photoshopped picture, recognise techniques used to attract clicks etc.,) would be a logical fit with the learning and development of critical evaluation skills already taking place. With these skills, pupils would be able to follow public health advice with confidence, recognise high-quality, objective information, ignore clickbait and move towards a more nuanced approach to scientific data, (Chalabi, 2017 Three Ways to Spot a Bad Statistic).

To teach media literacy skills, librarians need to be knowledgeable about the different online tools available to users. Combining this knowledge with familiarity in the latest trends of how young people engage with media (particularly social media e.g. Tik Tok or Snapchat etc.,) would produce highly engaging ways to teach digital skills (Belshaw, 2012, The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies). Planning sessions like this would demonstrate to students very quickly how crucial these skills are to them, as media platforms they already use are incorporated.

Librarians could start with a simple survey of participating pupils, to gauge the most common ways pupils spend their time online. The most popular online tool can be adapted into the techniques being taught to the group. For example, a videogame that is hugely popular at the moment is Among Us (PC Gamer, 2020, How Among Us became so wildly popular). The crux of the game is to find the imposter (a crewmate who sabotages the spaceship and kills other crewmates) and jettison them into space. The imposter is chosen by popular vote and is not always correctly identified. Using Among Us to gamify the media literacy lesson may grab students’ attention (particularly if they are avid players), creating a highly engaging and thought-provoking session.  To do this, the librarian could divide the class into groups, each representing a crewmate. They are given a factual news story and one group is given a biased, based on opinion or outright fake news story. Through asking the right questions, (IFLA, 2020, How To Spot Fake News), and using practical techniques (Caulfield, 2018, Online Verification Skills: Investigate the Source) the groups then vote on which group is the imposter i.e. has the objectionable news story, and symbolically jettison it into space.

Librarians will need to review their own knowledge of social media, gaming, applications etc., and identify where they could benefit from further knowledge in these. Requiring an open mindset to ‘broaden their skills beyond programming and book talking’ (Braun et al, 2014), librarians would need to engage in lifelong learning practices to keep up with the rapid changes being made by existing and new media tools and how users engage with them. It would require support from library administrators and school staff, but with commitment could produce a fluid and responsive media literacy program. This would go a long way to address the skills that students are leaving school without, in not believing everything they see on the Internet and television at face value and making informed choices for their own benefit.


Belshaw, D., 2012. The Essential Elements Of Digital Literacies. Available at [Accessed 20 November 2020].

Braun, L., Hartman, M., Hughes-Hassell, S. and Kumasi, K., 2014. The Future Of Library Services For And With Teens: A Call To Action. [PDF] p.24. Available at: <> [Accessed 27 November 2020].

Caulfield, M., 2018. Online Verification Skills – Video 2: Investigate The Source. Available at: <> [Accessed 6 November 2020].

Chalabi, M., 2017. 3 Ways To Spot A Bad Statistic.

Available at: <> [Accessed 20 November 2020]. 2020. IFLA — How To Spot Fake News. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 14 November 2020].

Kuhlthau, C., Maniotes, L. and Caspari, A., 2015. Guided Inquiry. 2nd ed. Libraries Unlimited, pp.68-69.

Ofcom. 2020. About Media Literacy. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 7 November 2020].

pcgamer. 2020. How Among Us Became So Wildly Popular. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 27 November 2020].

Spring, M., 2020. Coronavirus: The Human Cost Of Virus Misinformation. [online] BBC News. Available at: <> [Accessed 7 November 2020].

Steinberg, L., 2017. Media Literacy EAVI. [online] EAVI. Available at: <> [Accessed 7 November 2020].


Skip to content