Inholland University of Applied Sciences students and researchers heading to Paris

European project teaches judicious data handling to future professionals


What does climate change involve? Which of the stories about the coronavirus are true? What is really going on with the refugee crisis? As a professional, it is important to be able to distinguish fact from fiction, regardless of whether you are active in the media. The MediaNumeric project will bring students from a variety of European countries together and teach them how to tell better substantiated stories based on data. Friday 18 February will see two students and two researchers from Inholland travel to Paris for the initial pilot.

Susannah Montgomery is one of the researchers joining the trip to Paris. In addition to being a lecturer in International Creative Business at Inholland University of Applied Sciences The Hague, she is also a researcher and programme manager at the Sustainable Media Lab. Susannah believes it is important that professionals realise the influence of data and digitalisation on information provision. ‘Data influence the decision-making of people and organisations. Hence, as a professional, you need to know whether you can rely on those data.’

Data beïnvloeden de besluitvorming van mensen en organisaties. Je moet als professional dus weten of je die data kunt vertrouwen.

Susannah Montgemery, onderzoeker en programmamanager Sustainable Media Lab

Stories based on data
The MediaNumeric project homes in on the rising influence of data and digitalisation on the media landscape. Consider in this regard declining trust in established media, shifts in user behaviour and the way in which artificial intelligence is deciding what messages people get to read, for instance. ‘Within the compass of MediaNumeric, students from a variety of European countries are learning how to search, amass and use data and how they can tell better stories and debunk disinformation as a result.’ Susannah will be fulfilling the role of coach in Paris. ‘I’ll be supervising the students on a case study on the refugee crisis, looking at how they go about checking facts and what tools they can use to tell stories based on data.’

Learning to check facts
One of the participating students is Nina van Acker, a fourth-year International Creative Business student at Inholland University of Applied Sciences Haarlem. ‘My final thesis is going to be on fake news in social media. I can see how it has the potential to influence my friends and me. How people can be swayed by a story suggesting that coronavirus vaccines make you infertile, for example. This project fits in neatly with that topic, and it’s great to learn things like fact-checking.’


Last-minute trip abroad
Nina is looking forward to the pilot in Paris. ‘It’s nice to be heading off on a last-minute trip now that all the coronavirus measures have been lifted. The project is aimed at young people. I’m keen to interview a few of them along the way to glean information for my thesis on how they cope with disinformation.’

Critical, informed and committed
Susannah believes that MediaNumeric will turn the participating students into critical thinkers. ‘Hopefully, the case studies that we put to them in Paris will open their eyes. Afterwards, they’ll present their story based on data. This way of working will help them to adopt a critical mindset and become more informed, committed professionals. Another educational benefit is that they’re meeting students from other countries, which is teaching them to view complex issues such as the refugee crisis from different perspectives.’

Het is fijn om te leren hoe je feiten kunt checken. Dit project sluit goed aan op mijn afstudeerscriptie.

Nina van Acker, student International Creative Business

New teaching material
It is not just the participating students who will go on to become critically thinking professionals. ‘The aim of MediaNumeric is to develop educational material such as workshops and master classes for students in the Faculty of Creative Business. They’re learning data handling skills there, which is useful for all students, including those beyond our faculty.’

Second pilot at Inholland
MediaNumeric is funded by the European Commission through the Erasmus+ programme. The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision is coordinating a collaboration between higher education, industry and audiovisual archives from four EU Member States: the Netherlands, Poland, France and Estonia. In addition to Susannah and the students, Joke Hermes, professor in Media, Culture and Citizenship, and Natalia Berger, senior researcher and lecturer in the Faculty of Creative Business, are also involved. Inholland is set to organise the second MediaNumeric pilot later on this year. Students can sign up for this, with further information to follow!

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