Media and Information Literacy Hackathon Winning Teams Announced

Yerevan, December 4, 2022. On the second day of the Media and Information Literacy Hackathon, which was launched in Yerevan, the 21 participating teams presented the projects developed by them with technological solutions aimed at fact-checking and media literacy capacity development. The professional jury, based on the presentations of the existing and online teams, as well as the questions and answers, made a decision to announce the teams “Empty Space”, “CSharks” and “Media Deputy” as the winners.

The prize fund of the hackathon totaled 15,000 USD, which was divided equally among these three teams.

The “Empty Space” team desires to create an online learning platform (in the form of an app and a website) where disinformation will be told in plain text, which will help people become media literate, and the knowledge gained will be tested with the help of interactive games.

The “CSharks team”, targeting the age group of 10-16 children, intends to present them with an adventure story prepared in the form of comics. The story development will continue in the form of games, which will fulfill the important task of enriching children’s media literacy knowledge.

The “Media Deputy” team plans to create an informative and educational website for media literacy for the age group over 15, an interactive-educational game for children under 15, artificial intelligence for verifying the authenticity of fake materials.

The winners were selected by a competent jury, whose members were:

Ruben Osipyan, Entrepreneurial Programs Lead at Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology (FAST)

Marie Barseghyan, Director of “Microsoft Innovation Center”.

Hovhannes Aghajanyan, IT Project Manager/Systems Analyst, Synergy International Systems

Harutyun Tsaturyan, Fact-checking specialist, Projects & Partnerships Manager at European Youth Press

Armine Udumyan, PR Executive at Orion Worldwide Innovations

The hackathon, which took place on December 3-4, was targeted at promoting the creation of new programs with technological solutions that will join the fight against disinformation and the spread of media literacy.

Jen McAndrew, the Public Affairs Officer of the US Embassy in Armenia, Seda Muradyan, President of the Public Journalism Club, Mariam Simonyan, Representative of the “Innovative Solutions and Technologies Center” Foundation, participated in the hackathon award ceremony and delivered speeches.

20 teams from different regions of Armenia participated in the hackathon and one team from Italy joined online. Team submissions are available online.

About participating teams

The “Big Brother” team presents a browser extension, especially, chrome, within the framework of the hackathon demo. It warns users about potentially misleading material when visiting a web page.

The “DeepUK” team proposes to create a video game, during which the simulator will prompt users to enter personal data. In various situations, the user can decide whether to enter his/her personal data or not. And accordingly, due to special animations, it will become clear whether the user made the right decision or not.

The “Non-Academics” team aims to create a platform for the publications of researchers and scientific workers, which will help prevent the use of outdated information and disinformation in scientific circles.

The goal of the “Are you sure?” team is to create an “extension” that, by installing it in popular browsers, users will receive a double verification and reconfirmation window every time they enter their personal data. The meaning of the tool is as follows: When entering personal information, including banking information, on a website and pressing “submit” button, a corresponding window will open, warning the user that he/she is about to provide the relevant information to the relevant website, indicating that the owners of the website will have full access to manage and own this data, accompanied by other potentially preventive texts.

The idea of the “Media Dieta” team is to create a website where a list of reliable and unreliable Armenian-language websites, an application and an extension for the Google Chrome browser will be installed, which will help users to navigate the media field correctly via artificial intelligence. Teachers are selected as the target group.

The “Truth bot” team plans to have a Telegram Bot, where information from news or other websites will be presented, its authenticity will be checked and the corresponding message will be presented in the form of funny stickers.

During the hackathon, the “MediaEdu” team plans to create a website with 2 sections for children and adults, which will be aimed at making them even more media literate.

The “School Media Clinic” team proposes to create a platform where expert groups investigate and reveal the reliability of information and give a conclusion about digital sources.

The “News Analytics by AI” team wishes to perform news analysis using artificial intelligence, applying machine learning.

The goal of the “Ghukasavan IT Center” team is to develop communities. Given the current level of disinformation, they determined to develop and implement an idea that would help the public navigate and make the right choice when faced with fake news.

The “NigMa quest club” team plans to create a media quest for schoolchildren, using an AR application create a hybrid quest (online and offline), during which the participants will become more media literate using various fact-checking tools.

Our “MeDialog” team has launched a program through which we are going to create a media literate youth. The name “MeDialog” is a combination of the words “Media” and “Dialogue”. The program consists of 5 branches: creating a board game, creating an app, conducting courses, using VR glasses, creating a cartoon. The program is a combination of technological and non-technological branches towards a common goal.

The “MEDIALITERATE” team has chosen one of the most effective teaching methods – the game method – to promote the development of media literacy. The offered game will consist of different levels, from the simplest to the most complex, which will familiarize the user experientially with the dangers in the media, will form analytical thinking to distinguish the information, its source, as well as rejecting them if false sources are found.

The “NewsLit Initiative” team from Italy aims to analyze news based on artificial intelligence.

At the start of the event, on December 3, Chip Laitinen, US Chargé d’Affaires in Armenia, Gor Tsarukyan, Director of the Public Relations and Information Center of the RA Prime Minister’s Office, Seda Muradyan, President of the “Public Journalism Club” NGO, Mariam Simonyan, Representative of the “Innovative Solutions and Technologies Center” Foundation and representatives of partner structures delivered their opening speeches. The press release on the opening ceremony of the hackathon is available here.

Within the framework of the hackathon, Priyank Mathur, the founder and CEO of the American company Mythos Labs, held a one-hour speech on combating disinformation through media literacy, artificial intelligence and educational programs.

The Hackathon was carried out by the Public Journalism Club and “Innovative Solutions and Technologies Center” Foundation within the “Media and Information Literacy Accelerator” project funded through a Department of State Public Diplomacy Section grant.  

The Hackathon partners are: Media Initiative Center, American Councils in Armenia, the Enterprise Incubator Foundation, with its “Armenian Workforce Development Activity” project funded by the USAID, the Gyumri Technology Center and Vanadzor Technology Center implemented by EIF, the Armenia National SDG Innovation Lab and the “Public Relations and Information Center” of  Staff of the Prime Minister of the RA SNCO.

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