Read the award-winning 2020 book by Renee Hobbs, Mind Over Media: Propaganda Education in a Digital Age!
This web platform provides an opportunity to explore the subject of contemporary propaganda by hosting thousands of examples of 21st century propaganda from around the world. Users can upload, examine and discuss examples of propaganda from our own daily lives.
By examining propaganda, rating its potential impact, and commenting on it, people share their interpretations with others. Lesson plans deepen the learning by offering additional information, structuring discussion activities, and enabling students to demonstrate their learning through multimedia production experiences.
Why Propaganda Education Matters
During the 20th century, there was plenty of public discourse about propaganda. Unfortunately, in recent years, the study of propaganda has diminished in many educational settings. At the same time, we are surrounded by more than ever with near-constant exposure to advertising, the 24-hour news cycle, and an ever-expanding array of information and entertainment media. Misinformation, disinformation, partisanship and conspiracy theories are part of the media environment. With the significant volume of messages in our daily lives coming in so many forms and from so many different channels, it can be difficult to recognize propaganda.
Today, people might feel overwhelmed by all the media in our lives, which can lead to a "tuning-out" phenomenon where we are exposed to propaganda but do not actively recognize how it is influencing our emotions, attitudes, knowledge and behavior.
Critical thinking about propaganda and understanding propaganda's intent are crucial responsibilities of citizenship in the twenty-first century. By entering into a discussion about contemporary propaganda, we are invited to think about the power of communication and our responsibilities as both authors and audiences. Discussion of new forms of propaganda enables to examine questions about the use and potential impact of new media and technologies.
This site allows educators and students to explore the subject of propaganda by actively engaging in dialogue, interpretation, and analysis. Learners may examine propaganda from their local communities on topics of particular interest to them or explore propaganda from from around the world to stimulate intellectual curiosity.
These eight lessons are designed to be used in sequential 45-minute sessions. You can download the complete curriculum with lesson plans and handouts as a PDF file or you can access the lesson plans as editable Google Docs to customize for learners.
1. Defining Propaganda. There are many different definitions of propaganda, but all definitions share some common themes. These definitions reflect changing time periods and contexts.
2. Recognizing Propaganda Techniques. Although propaganda takes many forms, it can recognized by its use of techniques that activate strong emotions, simplify ideas, respond to audience needs, and attack opponents.
3. To Share or Not to Share. It is important to consciously reflect on the potential benefits and harms that may result from propaganda because people participate in the spread of propaganda when they share with their social networks.
4. Where Propaganda Is Found. It can be challenging to recognize propaganda when it is found in entertainment, education, and news because do not expect to be persuaded by these types of content.
5. Analyzing Propaganda with Critical Questions. Analyze propaganda by asking critical questions about the message that identify its author, purpose, and point of view. Also consider multiple interpretations of how people may respond to the message.
6. Talking Back to Propaganda. When you demonstrate your ability to comment, critically analyze, and put propaganda in context by creating a short video response, you are using the power of image, language, and sound to convey important ideas.
7. Keep Learning. For the intellectually curious individual, there’s a lot more to learn about propaganda. Deepening your knowledge of propaganda is excellent preparation for work, life, and citizenship.
8. Reflect on Propaganda. Reflecting on what you have learned about propaganda helps you internalize new knowledge and apply it to everyday life.
When learners explore and contribute to the Mind over Media website, they will:
- Learn to recognize new forms of propaganda in everyday life
- Practice skills of interpretation and critical analysis
- Consider how context shapes the way messages are understood
- Reflect on diverse interpretations of media messages in ways that promote understanding of and respect for others’ perspectives
- Shift from passive receivers to critically engaged participants in global public discourse
MIND OVER MEDIA activities are suitable for learners ages 13 to adults in both formal and informal learning environments. Because users can upload their own examples, they help to create a robust, fresh dialogue about contemporary propaganda. Because propaganda addresses all aspects of culture, MIND OVER MEDIA provides opportunities for authentic inquiry about a variety of topics, including business and the economy, health care, global issues, science and technology, politics and government, crime and law enforcement, education, the environment, and issues of faith and values.
Teacher Log In
When you create an account on the Mind Over Media website, you can create a Custom Gallery in order to select and upload particular examples for closer examination.
- Use the Log In button on the top left of the Home page.
- Select the tab "Create a New Account." Then enter an email address and a username. A email will be sent to your address with a link for you to establish a password for your account.
- If needed, you can reset your password using the Reset your Password tab.
Create a Custom Gallery for Your Class
After you create an account on the Mind Over Media website, you can create a custom gallery in order to select and upload particular examples for closer examination. Your Custom Gallery contains a smaller selection of media items that you have chosen to explore a particular topic or issue. Follow these instructions to create and use a Custom Gallery:
- Click on My Account and then the Edit tab. At the bottom of the page use the Custom URL to create a gallery by typing in a short name (no spaces)
- EXAMPLE: http://propaganda.mediaeducationlab.com/browse/ADD-A-NAME-HERE
- To add media artifacts to your Custom Gallery, use the Browse tab to select and add examples.
- Uncheck Visible to Students to hide items from your Custom Gallery.
- To display your Custom Gallery, share the Custom Gallery URL with students. Your Custom Gallery will display best if you are logged out as a Teacher.
CHECK OUT THESE SAMPLE TEACHER-CREATED CUSTOM GALLERIES
Racism, Sexism and Issues of Representation: https://propaganda.mediaeducationlab.com/browse/isms
With support from the European Commission, the Mind Over Media EU project brought together educators from seven countries (France, Belgium, Finland, Croatia, Romania, United States, and Poland) to explore the pedagogy of teaching contemporary propaganda. This group produced a collaboratively authored blog, a podcast series, and online learning curriculum materials for university students, including a crowdsourced digital platform with examples of propaganda artifacts from around the world. These resources are explicitly designed for college and university faculty and the project is chronicled in the book, Mind Over Media: Propaganda Education in a Digital Age (Hobbs, 2020), which identifies instructional strategies for teaching about political propaganda, terrorism, media bias and polarization, art and activism as propaganda, pseudoscience, conspiracy theories, and propaganda in entertainment. The book examines the important epistemological dimensions of teaching propaganda in the 21st century and suggests that educators need to cultivate intellectual humility in order to be responsive to the challenges that contemporary propaganda poses in all its many forms.
The resources below will help you learn more about how critical analysis of propaganda is incorporated into teaching and learning around the world.
- The State of Deception. Explore historical propaganda at this website developed at the United State Holocaust Memorial Museum.
- Propaganda Blog. Share your experiences using this website with other educators from around the world by contributing to the blog.
- The History of Propaganda Education in the United States. A scholarly article by Renee Hobbs and Sandra McGee examines the development of propaganda education in the United States.
- Using Virtual Exchange Experiences for Learning about Propaganda in a Global Context. A practitioner article by Renee Hobbs, Christian Seyferth-Zapf and Silke Grafe on a collaboration between German and American educators