Deconstructing Media Literacy

By Katie Ash — June 29, 2009 1 min read
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In an age when information can be easily manipulated through applications such as Wikipedia and Photoshop, who should be teaching our students about media literacy, what should they be learning about it, and what kind of vocabulary do they need in order to talk about it critically? Jamie McKenzie, the editor of the Web magazine From Now On: The Educational Technology Journal, tackled some of these questions in a spotlight session today at NECC, attended mostly by librarian-teachers and media specialists.

Part of what makes media literacy difficult to teach, said McKenzie, is that it does not have a formal place in the classroom. While McKenzie believes it should be integrated into all curricula, in many schools it falls to the librarians to cover the subject. Another factor that makes teaching media literacy challenging is that it incorporates many other kinds of literacies, said McKnezie, such as text literacy, artistic literacy, cultural literacy, social literacy, ethical literacy, and emotional literacy, among others. Becoming media literate requires students to identify and synthesize a wide variety of types of literacies, said McKenzie.

Another obstacle that prevents students from becoming more media literate is a lack of vocabulary to talk about the different ways that media can be manipulative and biased, McKenzie pointed out. Some organizations have stepped in to fill that gap, such as the Center for Media Literacy, the New Mexico Media Literacy Project, and the Saskatchewan’s Central iSchool, which has created a robust curriculum about advertising claims and advertising methods.

With the incredible amount of media that students consume, being able to properly analyze, deconstruct, and synthesize that information is becoming increasingly important. Hopefully the educators who attended this session have walked away with some ideas about how to do approach that task.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.