Online Training on Digital Competences

Digital Competences and Critical Thinking - Solutions for Adult Education

Never before has access to knowledge been as easy as it is today, and never before has it been possible for so many people to inform themselves comprehensively. But simultaneously with this democratisation of knowledge, a danger has also emerged that threatens to permanently infiltrate and damage our societies. In a time when everyone can be not only a receiver but also a sender of news, it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish serious from dubious news. The flourishing of conspiracy theories in the current Corona pandemic is a frightening example of the subversive power of fake news and disinformation campaigns.

» Adult education plays an important role in the building of resilience for our societies. «

In a series of events, we discussed, together with international partners and interested participants, various aspects of this situation with renowned experts and discovered possible solutions that we can implement in our adult education practice. On five consecutive afternoons, we examinated the most important aspects that we have discovered in our European project group. The international approach was particularly enlightening, because similarities and differences will help us to be aware of our own situation, but also offered the possibility to learn from each other. Registration for the individual events as well as for the whole series was free of charge. Each event started at 15:00 CET and last two hours.

Critical Thinking as a competence for 21st century

The first event was dedicated to the topic of critical thinking. Our speaker and Epale ambassador Dörte Stahl gave a comprehensive overview of the topic of critical thinking, first embedding it in a larger framework of important competencies for the 21st century, then clarifying the term with illustrative examples and at the same time explaining what critical thinking is not. Finally, she gave a number of practical tips on how to promote critical thinking skills in everyday educational work with adults.

Critical Thinking - read more

Some suggestions:

  • Methods that encourage independent thought and action, discussion (appreciation of other perspectives) and personal expression. For example, project work in smaller or larger groups.
  • Methods that encourage self-reflection such as keeping a learning journal or asking at the end of a lesson:” What has been your main takeaway from this lesson and why?”
  • Promote relevance: Brainstorming -individually or in a group -is a good method to reveal different thoughts and perspectives and to open up minds. Participants can prioritise the results of the brainstorming according to relevance (importance for a topic or a person) and explain why they consider certain points more important than others.
  • Think of different learning tasks: Fewer wrong / right tasks, instead provide more sample solutions. In this way, the participants solve tasks independently, check their solutions on their own responsibility and reflect on their learning independently.
  • Promote the “Why” and the “Why not”: Don’t always explain the “Why / Why not” but ask for it.

After the lecture, we exchanged our experiences with the topic in small groups. This revealed a number of interesting aspects that we collected with a padlet.

Here are the most important findings from our breakout sessions:

  • Using movies to get discussions started; use of fake documentaries. Teaching how to communicate an opinion. Every documentary has a subjective view point, which can be observed and discussed.
  • In an educational environment, you have to learn so many things that you are left overwhelmed. It is not really encouraged by teachers.
  • There seems to be no real demand for critical thinking in the labour market, but it depends a lot upon the level of competence. Higher up managerial positions tend to require this competence, lower positions don’t. In international corporations, particularly if they work with hostile countries, require a lot of this competence.
  • going abroad for a longer time fosters critical thinking, reflecting on different cultures and your own beliefs
  • using the multicultures in our classes to reflect on movies, books, sharing their experiences
  • talk a lot about topics, encouraging students to reflect upon certain topics
  • the importance of free speech, ethical dilemmas
  • Organise dialogical group discussions
  • Recognize blind spots in thinking and try to deconstruct them
  • Take care of safe space in group situations
  • examples from the real life
  • asking for opinions 
  •  to reflect on their negative learning experience, to encourage them to speak free - there is no wrong or correct answers
  • giving examples of fake news and open discussion
  • Create a trusting relationships and a safe space in classroom in order for the students to feel free and welcome to go deep into topics, which need questioning.
  • Encourage students to explore difficult topics, let them make their mistakes and let them learn from them. No punishing for the mistakes!
  • Show the students how the explored topics and critical thinking methods could be applied in their everyday life. Connect theory and practice.

Together we found that critical thinking is a skill that is important in many areas of life, both personally and socially, but that is not often promoted in formal education institutions in most partner countries. At the same time, we have also shared the experience that there is usually no specific demand for critical thinking as a learning goal, even from among our learners. The demand is most likely to be formulated by larger companies, which would like to have employees who have this competence. This is also an occasional topic at universities, although we have the impression that educational institutions in the USA seem to be much more active here than in Europe. Most research on the subject also comes from the Anglo-Saxon world.

All the more important are the results that show ways in which (in a way, incidentally) competences in the area of critical thinking can be promoted. Here, in the list above, suitable suggestions can be found for most contributors in adult education.


Ms. Doerte Stahl

Dörte Stahl is an adult educator with a focus on social media and digitalization of learning processes. In both fields, she has been working on the issue of integrating 4C’s in learning scenarios for several years. In addition, she is an ambassador for EPALE (Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe).


Monday, 17.05.2021

Cyber safety and digital competences

The second day was dedicated to the topic of CYBER SAFETY AND DIGITAL COMPETENCES.

Our speaker Ms. Maja Vreča talked about the basic digital skills we need to keep safe online - from digital hygiene to strong passwords. She also talked about internet media literacy - what needs to be known and understood when using digital media.

Cyber safety - read more

We learned about:

  • the phenomenon of the Filter Bubble and its impact on us and on our societies and we should also understand how the algorithms choose "our" content for us
  • how "big data" is being used and abused. There has been a lot of media coverage in the last year about the Fake news and Conspiracy theories - do we know why is this such an important topic?
  • some tips and tricks on how to check the authenticity of the online contents
  • what makes our digital footprint and how to control it and to maintain our privacy on the internet,
  • why online privacy is so important for all of us.

No technological solution alone can protect us from the misuse of technology. We, the users are the weakest link of the Internet and fraudsters take advantage of this, so we will learn some basic skills to avoid becoming a fraud victim.

She also gave some Slovenian examples of online abuse/harassement.

At the end we had a discussion on the topic. Participants expressed their points of view on the topic, exchanged their experiences etc. We discussed about how to present the topics of cyber safety and digital competences in adult education, how to motivate adults so they put in practice what they learnt about the cyber safety etc.


Ms. Maja Vreča

Maja Vreča has been employed at the Academic and Research Network of Slovenia (ARNES) since 1995. All this time she has been dealing with users of the Internet. In recent years her focus has shifted mainly to spreading knowledge in the field of safe use of new technologies. She is preparing and managing the Internet safety and security Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for teachers and parents and preparing the Internet safety and security MOOC for children. She prepares videos, writes articles and conducts thematic lectures and workshops for a wide variety of audiences. She is also a long-term partner in the Center for Safer Internet -SAFE.SI project.


Tuesday, 18.05.2021

Online harassment – and how to combat it

On Wednesday 19th May the seminar topic in Digital Competences and Critical Thinking series was Online harassment – and how to combat it.

The lecturer speaking about the topic was Johanna Vehkoo, a Finnish freelance journalist and author of several books about journalism and internet. Vehkoo has specialised in misinformation, fact-checking, and online hate.

In her lecture, Vehkoo talked about what online harassment is and who is being targeted with it. She also talked about the perpetrators' tactics and how to recognise them.

The forms of internet harrassment vary from private bullying to public hate speech campaigns, and the perpetraitor may be acting either anonymously or with his own face. In her lecture Vehkoo concentrated mostly in harassment performed by anonymous sources either in private channells or on social media platforms.

Online harassment - read more

About the phenomenon in general:

Women are more likely to be harrassed online than men. Harrassment targeted to women is also more sexually loaded.

Internet trolls and haters are networked. Many of them are using multiple accounts. Thus, the total amount of harrassment comes from few accounts.

Harassment aims at silencing. Harassment is not targeted so much to individuals as such but individuals representing groups, like women, minorities, or activists. Politically saying it is targeted to the oppressed groups.

Anybody can become a target for online harrasment. Mostly the harassment is only short term, but some are harassed long term.

The tactics the harassers commonly use:

  • Black PR: Spreading rumours and false information about the target in order to harm reputation.
  • Doxxing: Disseminating personal information about the target.
  • Serial complaints: Official channels used to make complaints and reports about the target, for example to employer.
  • Troll calls: Calling harassing phone calls.
  • Filming and streaming video: Harassers show up and film the target with mobile phones, maybe streaming the content to internet.
  • Dogwhistling: Using coded or suggestive language inciting supporters to attack the target.
  • Image misrepresentation: Using photos to harass and abuse the target, includes also revenge porn and deepfakes.

The information used in harassing can be classified into three categories:

  • Misinformation: False information spread without intention to mislead.
  • Disinformation: False information spread in order to make harm.
  • Malinformation: True information spread in order to make harm.

How to react against harassment in internet:

  • Turn off notifications, choose when you react
  • Lock troll accounts
  • Save screen shots, pages, files, metadata is important in possible investigation
  • If harassment is connected to work the work place should give help to employee, also unions or freedom of speech associations can give help
  • Ask help from a colleague or expert
  • Ask a trusted person take care of your social media accounts for a while

Tips to improve technical security:

  • Make home address secret.
  • Check out what information internet provides about you and seek to remove excessive information.
  • Use encrypted messaging.
  • Use secure passwords.
  • Store your passwords in an store software.
  • Use twho factor authentication in your social media accaunts.
  • Check out your privacy settings and third party apps in you social media accounts.
  • Make sure your communication lines are safe, use VPN which masks your location.
  • Use Tor Browser.

Coping with stress:

Harassment always causes stress. The stress may lead to post traumatic stress disorder and psychic problems. Talk to friends, peers and experts. It is regocnized that peer to peer support is very effective in coping with anxieties caused by harassment.

If you become harassed, try to distantiate your personality from the object of harassment. It is not you individually that is harassed, but something you represent (womanhood, minority, activism).

What you can do to protect others:

Victims should be defended. Many times victims feel that they are alone. Do not treat harassment with indifference.

Help in gathering information and doing a criminal complaint.

Harassers react to their actions being addressed withdrawing from harassing. Particularly effective is if the intervener is from their own reference group, like white male.


Ms. Johanna Vehkoo

Johanna Vehkoo is a Finnish freelance journalist and author of four non-fiction books. Vehkoo is specialised in misinformation, fact-checking, and online hate. She writes about misinformation for the Finnish public broadcaster YLE.
In her lecture, Vehkoo talks about what online harassment is and who is being targeted with it. She will talk about the perpetrators and help you recognise the tactics they use. You will learn how to protect yourself and others against online hate.

Vehkoo herself has been targeted by the Finnish far right and she has fought for her freedom of speech in court.

Vehkoo has studied fact-checking at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC, and journalism at the Reuters Institute in Oxford. Vehkoo has been awarded for promoting openness in society by Finnish investigative journalism and freedom of speech associations. She is a founder of the investigative journalism startup Long Play and president at the Feminist Think Tank Hattu.


Wednesday, 19.05.2021

Hybrid war, international interference using social media

Hybrid Warfare is, at first glance, a new way of warfare, but has been going on for many years. An old saying tells that everything is possible in war. Thus the Hybrid Warfare perfectly reflects this. All elements of national power, like diplomacy, information, military, and economic might be employed during the Hybrid Warfare. Social Media is one of the best tool in the Hybrid Warfare “toolbox” and might be used for different purposes. However, the ultimate goal is to influence defined Target Audiences: to change attitudes, perception, values, and even behaviour. We all might be the Target Audience of the Hybrid Warfare. Thus our resilience is more relevant than ever.
The training topics:

  • Why Hybrid Warfare
  • The “Weaponisation” of Social Media
  • Russia and Daesh approach
  • Tactics and Techniques
  • Resilience

Hybrid war - read more


It‘s no news that we live in the age of information. We are flooded by different information and the skill of recognizing disinformationfrom informationis crucial in nowadays. The information we choose to believe shapes our decisions. The information can beused as a means to better understand the world, to shape our attitudes and, at the same time, to influence or even make pressure on our worldview and our decision-makingprocess. We even see informational wars going on in virtual reality and, usually unwillingly, we become participants of them.

Historically we are used to see that nations have their conflicts in the real war field. Today the field of war is moved to our virtual space. As the virtual space is quite a new creation, it‘s natural that the processes which takes place there, are still unclear and unfamiliarto us. Sometimes we lack knowledge to understand what threats and challenges we are confronting there, but sometimes –it is just very difficult to believe that we are becoming the tool of manipulation for someone who has, let‘s call it, evil egoistic motives.

In order to become resilient to the negative impact on the individual and on the national level, firstly, we need to become aware of the informational wars which take place in the virtualreality and at the same time we need to be cautious that anyone of us here or there can become the tools or victims of informational wars, especially on social media.

So what are the key aspects we have to keep in mind during educational process in orderto keep our students resilient to informational and/or hybrid war?

  • Know that key elements of the success of hybrid war is it‘s secrecy and consistency. The hybrid war is rarelyseen, moreover, it‘s methods are usually unrecognizableby those who are not familiar with it. Knowing that the methods and toolsof hybrid war have impact because of the systematic and accumulative effect helps to stay more alert and be more critical of the information received. One of the key purposes of theaggressors in hybrid war is to attack and to weaken societal norms, values and agreements the specific society is acting upon. And these attacks are made from different perspectives in different fields. Therefore,it is important to be aware of the principles and techniquesof hybrid war (see list of recommendations for further reading);
  • Know that aggressorssearch for and attack the most vulnerableaspects of the society. The chain is as strong as it‘s weakest element. If there‘s a strong fragmentation on certain moralofpolitical topics (e.g. human rights), battle on values polarizes the community and weakens it.
  • Keep in mind that no one is immune to disinformation! We all are the servants of the need of our brains to simplify the world, to search for and to think in patterns and stereotypes, and we tend to seek confirmation of what we already know or which fits our understanding of the world and it’s phenomena. This is how the brain works. It’s natural. It’s called cognitive bias.
  • Know the way our cognitive mechanisms work. Our brain „likes“simple and clear information. Moreover,we tend to focus on the information which has an emotional impact on us. Simple and emotional information is not bad by itself. But it is important to know thatsuch a display of information can be used asatool for manipulation. The creators of propaganda show the reality in an oversimplified way, by creating emotional stories. If the story or the explanation of the phenomenon looks too simple too be true, it probably is falseor at least it needs deeper investigation.
  • Be more curious about how decision making process work in our brain. When you know how the brain plays tricks on us, how it optimizes it’s own processes in order not to use too much energy, you have the opportunity to overcome some of the default processes which often lead to reasoning mistakes and biases (e.g. our brain tends to find patterns and connections where there is none; believe the stereotypes or norms without questioning; go with the emotional load of information, not the reason; etc.).
  • Confront fake information (in real life or online) when it’s necessary.It can be annoying, emotionally draining, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do –e.g.join the discussion and confront the liar or the hater. At the same time it is very important to pick your own battles. Because if you’ll try to confront every liar, you’ll burn out in a matter of days.
  • Be careful with your participation in the controversial discussion in social media. Be aware that one of the aims of manipulators –to create intense and polarizing discussion in order to keep fragmentation. If you feel that the discussion you are involved in has become too intense, or it touches your sensitive experiences, step back, keep it cool and reflect what is going on.
  • Be empathetic with the opponentsyou do not agree with. People have certain biases and attitudes not because they are good or bad people, but because of their certain experiences. Everyone of us have our motives to „take sides“ and to justify our position. It is importantto hear each other out and understandthose experiences which shaped our attitudes.
  • Use “scientific thinking” approach in your personal and professional life. Cultivate curiosity, inquiry and questioning. The risky road is to stick to one’s truth because it is convenient or because it reflects the unquestionable traditions. The truth can only be found through questioning the information we receive, analyzingevidenceand coming to logical and evidence-based conclusions.
  • Know that we live in the era of “post-truth”. The facts, evidences and scientificway of thinking is undervalued. It is one of the tools of manipulation –to rise the doubts about scientific truths andthe devaluation of it.
  • Read literature and articles on topics of hybrid war, propaganda, media literacy, critical thinking or listen to the opinions of experts on communication, public relations, psychology, sociology, defense (yes, defense, because information in nowadays is and can be used as a weapon).
  • Widen personal “social bubble”. It concerns everybody –we need to know, how the persons with different view of the world see the world, understand their motives and arguments. It not only helps in building our own arguments against their narrative, but also help us find empathy towards this group. And if we stay closed in our social bubbles, look at them from the distance with a some kind of arrogance –that won’t be a motive for them to critically evaluate their choices, because we will be seen as a group of enemies, not a group that could accept them.
  • Talk to different people (not only alike). It’s necessary to see that there are many ways to see the world, many motives why we see the world differently. And sometimes there is no one true answer to different problems or no one true way of seeing things. That is why we need to see different perspectives.
  • Lead by example. Use fake news detection and combat methods by yourselfand teach others how to do it.
  • Join anti-disinformation or anti-propaganda groupsonline. Actively participating in the activities against informational manipulations, not only let’s a person be updated on the topics of disinformation, but also let’s experience how the algorithmsof social media helps/hinders the spread of disinformation.
  • Cultivate and spread democratic values in whatever you are doing, e.g. during teaching activities. Democracy is not onlya theoretical notion -it is a form of governing a state which requires the active participation of it‘s citizens, their motivation to build a better state and their commitment to do so. The example of the teaching activities cultivating democratic processes could be lessons where teachers search for the answers together with their students, students and teachers together create lesson‘s content, students help eachother, teacher evaluates the efforts of students on the principals of transparency and equality.

Internet resources:


  • Joonas Porsti "The Enchantment of Propaganda" (Lith.: "Propagandos kerai", Fin.: “Propagandan lumo. Sata vuotta mielten hallintaa");
  • Lee Mcintyre "Post-Truth" (Lith.: "Post tiesa");
  • Anders Hanson "Skärmhjärnan" (Lith.: "Naršymo metas");
  • Fred Kaplan "Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War" (Lith.: "Kibernetiniai karai");
  • Ion Mihai Pacepa, Ronald J. Rychlak "Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism" (Lith.: "Dezinformacija: slaptas ginklas. Laisvos visuomenės griovimo metodai");
  • Viktor Denisenko "Propagandos apsupty" (Lithuanian);


Video resources:


Mr. Darius Remeika

Darius Remeika, Senior Specialist at Information Operations Section at Strategic Communication Department. Expertise and competences include developing information operations campaigns, strategies and objectives, coordinating information activities, non-kinetic operations.


Thursday, 20.05.2021

Fake news, Disinformation, Media Literacy, Propaganda

Mathias Cederholm is a founder and administrator of a Swedish Facebook group called something like Media Literacy, Fake News and Fact Checking in translation. The group has around 20 000 members. He spoke about his work with the group, and more specific about the information overload including the flow of fake news and misinformation about the Covid 19 pandemic. The speaker presented a broad picture about the need of Media Literacy and presented several examples of plug ins and other instruments to use when you want to analyze web pages and posts in social media. He discussed several different Media and Information Literacy concepts like Lateral Reading and SIFT as well as resources on the internet.

Fake news, Disinformation, Media Literacy, Propaganda

WHO introduced the concept of Infodemic to describe what happened during the current pandemic and they write “An infodemic is too much information including false or misleading information in digital and physical environments during a disease outbreak. It causes confusion and risk-taking behaviors that can harm health. It also leads to mistrust in health authorities and undermines the public health response.”

Mathias Cederholm discussed also several different examples of conspiracy theories, Fake News, and other phenomena esp in social media, concerning Covid-19 and the vaccines.

In the end the workshop addressed the question about adult education.  The need of increased Media and Information Literacy, throughout our societies is very big. Kids might learn in school but where should adults learn, was the question discussed among the attendees.

Links to some of the resources mentioned


Mr. Mathias Cederholm

Researcher, educator and consultant in media- and information literacy (MIL), disinformation/propaganda analysis and critical thinking, at Alle fonti HB. Recurrent guest lecturer at Lund university etc.

More Information:


Friday, 21.05.2021

References and thoughs of the participants


For more informations about the TeDiCom Project and the Online Training on Digital Comeptences please contact:

Martin Elbeshausen,