Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Teaching the Conspiracies

This week on January 31, 2024, I’m excited to start facilitating a six week online course for educators titled, “Teaching the Conspiracies.” This “anytime learning course” is offered as part of the 2024 MediaED Institute by the Media Education Lab, with whom I’m an affiliated faculty member.

Teaching the Conspiracies

The course description is:

In this 6 week course, participants will learn how the SIFT web literacy framework (Stop, Investigate the source, Find trusted coverage, Trace to the original”) paired with lateral reading, offers excellent strategies for interrogating online information to decide what is valid and trustworthy. Ongoing culture wars, rife with conspiracy theories and social media fueled “rabbit holes,” make our fractured information landscape challenging to navigate. We will use a lesson series focusing on the NASA Apollo moon landings, contemporary YouTube “hoaxers,” as well as “flat earthers” to develop better media literacy skills! We will also create a variety of media products together, including sketchnotes, interactive whiteboards, and narrated slideshows to demonstrate our learning. By the end of the course, participants will have the knowledge and skills to teach and facilitate media literacy lessons utilizing SIFT and lateral reading, helping develop resilient skills for informed citizenship.

The goals of the course are to:

  1. Learn ways to teach about conspiracy theories without getting fired.
  2. Better understand our conspiracy polluted culture.
  3. Identify developmentally appropriate lessons to teach about conspiracy theories.
  4. Use and learn ways to teach with the “SIFT web literacy framework”
  5. Complete (as a ‘student’) Wes Fryer’s “Froot Loop Conspiracy Theories” lesson series.

I’ve been preparing to design and teach this course literally for four years, since I started the “Conspiracies and Culture Wars” inquiry project after participating in the 2019 Summer Institute in Digital Literacy. The numerous articles, videos, blog posts, podcasts, and links I’ve collected since that summer 4 years ago (and aggregated in Padlet) are included as both “required media” and “optional media” in the course curriculum. Our weekly course topics will be:

  1. Week 1: Introduction to the World of Conspiracies
  2. Week 2: Why Are Conspiracy Theories Popular?
  3. Week 3: Moon Landing Hoax?
  4. Week 4: Moon Hoax Not?!
  5. Week 5: Contemporary Conspiracy Theories
  6. Week 6: Culminating Project and Reflection

This evening I recorded the Week 1 Welcome Video and Course Overview, which runs 17 minutes. If you are interested in these topics, I encourage you to check out the video and then register to join me, along with many other media literacy educators around the United States and the world, in the 2024 MediaED Institute!

Whether or not you join me for this course, you’re also invited to check out my collected media literacy resources on, and join the private Facebook group I facilitate for “Conspiracies and Culture Wars.” I generally share an article, video, podcast or link related to the project’s themes each week. I also use the hashtag #ConCW on Mastodon to share related resources.

Week 1: Introduction to the World of Conspiracies” (CC BY 2.0) by Wesley Fryer

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