Giving Compass’ Take:
• High school and college students from around the world are joining forces to create data visualizations in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 misinformation.
• Why is it crucial to dispel false narratives about the COVID-19 virus? How can donors amplify these youth-led efforts?
• Read how information literacy can help tackle COVID misinformation.
A group of high school and college students from around the world who met on a social network popular among video gamers are putting their tech skills to work against the spread of COVID-19 misinformation.
Their effort began in early April, when a Harvard University student, Lucas Chu, sent out a message to a group of people he had met on the social platform Discord. The idea was to organize students to make data visualizations to help show trends in the spread of COVID-19 and to counter false narratives about the virus.
Those students formed what they called the Coronavirus Visualization Team, and they quickly gathered hundreds of participants from high schools and colleges. The goal was to harness their personal interests in computing to help end the pandemic.
“There’s not a lot of ways that we could get directly involved on the front lines—we’re too young,” says Scott Blender, an early member of the group who will be an incoming freshman at Temple University in the fall. “Anyone with a computer and basic [internet] can learn the skills to get involved with meaningful data visualizations. We don’t have to be like 30 years old to make an impactful difference. We can be like 18.” Blender is 18.
One of their most popular works so far has been the COVID-19 Risk Score Model, which shows how the pandemic is “disproportionately affecting marginalized and underserved communities.”
One of the established folks mentoring the group is Thara Pillai, director of alumni programs and engagement at Harvard Innovation Labs. “What’s fascinating about this team is that it is made up of students from major universities from across the country,” she said in an email interview. “They’ve managed to figure out a way to bring in data scientists, engineers, and industry experts to develop meaningful insights around coronavirus from unemployment to predictive analytics around the spread and growth of the virus in different communities.
Read the full article about tackling COVID-19 misinformation by Jeffrey R. Young at EdSurge.
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