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Truth or Pandemic: A platform, Podcast and Online Game to fight COVID-19 misinformation

Submitted by:

Vincent Gosselin Boucher

Email:

vincent.gosselinboucher@ubc.ca

Author(s)

Vincent Gosselin Boucher, PhD; Juliette François-Sévigny, BA; Catherine Cimon-Paquet, MSc; Étienne Aumont, MSc; Brigitte Voisard, BA; Simon L. Bacon, PhD; Kim L. Lavoie, PhD

Institution of primary author:

The University of British Columbia

Background:

Knowledge transfer and scientific communication are key tools in a global crisis. The fight against the COVID-19 pandemic has been obfuscated by an increase in misinformation and disinformation, both widely disseminated through social media. This context highlights the importance of accurate and effective knowledge translation. The objective of this project was to communicate to young adults (18-30 years old) the science around issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly topics that have been subject to misinformation. This project also aimed to raise awareness about the impact of our behaviours in the fight against COVID-19.

Methods:

The development of the project took place from March to June 2021. With a team of six university students, several collaborators (e.g., researchers, artist, content creators, graphic designer), and with a budget of less than $12k, the “Vérité ou Pandémie” team was able to engage people in Quebec and around the world. Seven issues were addressed in this project: 1) history of pandemics; 2) health behaviours; 3) disinformation and conspiracy theories; 4) mental health, sex, and relationships; 5) work and well-being; 6) vaccination; and 7) the post pandemic. The issues were integrated through 3 components, in French and English: A) an online platform gathering existing information resources (www.veriteoupandemie.com), and social media (i.e., Instagram and Facebook); B) a series of 6 French podcast episodes (open.spotify.com/show/3Ne4g6ICj3BgoAYP34ZstI), each featuring a scientist and a non-scientist (i.e., not working in this sector: actor, content creator, etc.); and C) an online game (playable in teams or solo) powered by the Minka platform, created by Novaconcept, a company with expertise in gamification and eLearning. The content is accessible at all times, while registration is required to participate in one of the weekly game sessions. 

Results:

Social media was used to promote the content and infographics. Since its launch on June 21 (2021), more than 200 people have signed up for the game, 563 people / accounts followed the social media pages (185 for Facebook; 378 for Instagram), a cumulative of 1,426 listenings of the podcast and 21,091 viewings of the videos have been recorded on the different platforms, and the project has reached more than 30,000 people through our various media. This project has also attracted the attention of local media, leading to more than a dozen interviews (i.e., Radio Canada, Matin LCN and University Affairs) and presentations for education and science communication groups.

Conclusions:

This project aimed to contribute to the fight against COVID-19 by communicating the science in an engaging way, through an online game, resource platform, and podcast series. Within the scientific community, such strategies can be used to diversify our knowledge translation offering. There will be a continuation of the project, including several other streams. 

Vincent Boucher poster

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