The Promises, Challenges, and Futures of Media Literacy (Data & Society)

Media literacy has become a center of gravity for countering “fake news,” and a diverse array of stakeholders – from educators to legislators, philanthropists to technologists – have pushed significant resources toward media literacy programs. Media literacy, however, cannot be treated as a panacea. This paper provides a foundation for evaluating media literacy efforts and contextualizing them relative to the current media landscape.

Media literacy is traditionally conceived as a process or set of skills based on critical thinking. It has a long history of development according to different values, swinging between protection and participation. Contemporary media literacy tends to organize around five main themes: youth participation, teacher training and curricular resources, parental support, policy initiatives, and evidence base construction. Programs like these have demonstrated positive outcomes, particularly in the case of rapid responses to breaking news events, connecting critical thinking with behavior change, and evaluating partisan content.

However, media literacy programs also have their challenges. In general, there is a lack of comprehensive evaluation data of media literacy efforts. Some research shows that media literacy efforts can have little-to-no impact for certain materials, or even produce harmful conditions of overconfidence.

Survey on Privacy in Media and Information Literacy with Youth Perspectives (UNESCO)

An understanding of privacy online and offline is, at its core, an understanding of how media and information are created, analysed, distributed, applied and used, as well as how they are monetized, and the conditions under which all this can contribute to sustainable development. Understanding privacy and actively participating in its promotion requires critical thinking skills. In other words, what are called “privacy competencies” can, to a significant extent, be usefully seen as part of MIL competencies. While privacy as a concept is separate from MIL, many of the competencies needed to protect personal privacy are also MIL competencies; these include the ability to demand one’s right to privacy, or to act wisely about what information one shares as well as how to secure one’s information. Privacy is an issue that merits close consideration by all engaged persons interested in global citizenship. At the same time, all people, including young people, need strong MIL competencies (knowledge, skills, and attitude) to help them understand the kinds of questions to ask about how their data is accessed and used, how they may be consciously and unconsciously permitting and facilitating this access, and what the implications may be.

Ultimately, this report aims to provide conceptual, development and policy recommendations to foster privacy in MIL, while enabling the critical engagement of people, including young women and men, in an environment conducive to sustainable development and to freedom of expression online and offline. It seeks to provide clarity on the complex issue of how MIL and privacy intersect.

Media Literacy

Understanding the News (CIMA) – Susan D. Moeller

In regions of the world that lack independent media, citizens cannot elect their best representatives, accurately monitor industry, or judge how to foster healthy development because they are often starved of information and do not know how much trust to place in news sources. Media literacy training is a tool the development sector can use to educate citizens and other stakeholders to better understand the role of information in a democracy and pressure governments to be accountable and to root out corruption. A media literate citizenry is essential to building and sustaining democracy.

Media literacy training creates a demand for accurate and fair news on both traditional and digital media platforms. This encourages checks and balances and democratic debate not just at election time but between elections as well. Teaching the public to be media literate does not mean telling people what to think or do. Rather, creating a media-literate society is a step toward finding better ways to communicate and toward solving humanity’s most difficult political and economic problems. U.S. and international donors in media development and communications for development projects have begun to identify media literacy as a priority, but donors outside those fields are still learning about the concept.

Empowering Youth Worldwide – Paul Mihailidis

Media literacy is growing globally. At all levels of education, initiatives in media literacy are premised on teaching youth and young adults to consume media critically—from how media shape political messages to the increasing pervasiveness of advertising. Few would argue with the need to offer youth effective educational platforms to help them understand the role of information in an increasingly hyper media age.The successful implementation of such platforms, however, depends on many variables. Governments must have the proper infrastructure and expertise to enable successful media literacy education initiatives for youth. Educators must have adequate training to teach media literacy. Schools must have the resources to engage students with media on a personal level. And educational bodies must have a framework from which they can produce positive outcomes in media literacy learning in classroom settings.

These challenges are not small. With media growing and converging at ever-quickening rates, civil societies and civic dialogue are being influenced by media in new and unforeseen ways. Supporting media literacy education for youth can help prepare children and young adults for lives of active inquiry around media and for a better understanding of the ties between information, community, and democracy.Government agencies, NGOs, foundations, and private developers looking to support civic and democratic endeavors in the developing world should be made aware of media literacy as a key educational component for developing stable democratic discourse. This report explores support and development of media literacy education and curriculum initiatives for youth in the developing world.

Global Media and Information Literacy Assessment Framework: Country Readiness and Competencies (UNESCO)

Media and Information Literacy (MIL) brings together Information Literacy and Media Literacy, along with Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Digital Literacy, as a new literacy construct that helps empower people, communities and nations to participate in and contribute to global knowledge societies. The adoption of such an approach should be viewed in the light of the greater accessibility, convergence and distribution of information and media content, in various formats and via diverse digital tools. MIL helps to develop critical thinking and problem solving, while also increasing collaboration and participation. This means that every country needs to invest in the creation of an enabling environment for MIL and that citizens need to be equipped with the necessary tools and resources to achieve individual, professional and societal goals that are based on MIL-related competencies.

Freedom of Expression, Access to Information, and Empowerment of People (UNESCO)

  • Freedom of Expression and the Right to Information are fundamental rights.

  • Press Freedom and access to information support participatory democracy.

  • National communications policies should rest on UNESCO’s four principles.

  • ICTs can help empower people for a “multi-logue”.

  • Media pluralism, an enabling legal environment and journalistic safety are essential to empower-ment and access to information.

  • Community media and audience participation are especially important for empowerment.

  • Media production capacity, media literacy and information literacy are essential.

Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action – A white paper by Renee Hobbs

This report offers a plan of action for how to bring digital and media literacy education into formal and informal settings through a community education movement. This work will depend on the active support of many stakeholders: educational leaders at the local, state and federal levels; trustees of public libraries; leaders of community-based organizations; state and federal officials; members of the business community; leaders in media and technology industries, and the foundation community. It will take the energy and imagination of people who recognize that the time is now to support the development of digital and media literacy education for all our nation’s citizens, young and old.In this report, we define digital and media literacy as a constellation of life skills that are necessary for full participation in our media-saturated, information-rich society.

Education 3.0 and Internet Governance: A New Global Alliance for Children and Young People’s Sustainable Digital Development (Global Commission on Internet Governance – GCIG)

As a global resource managed in the public interest, the Internet depends not only on policy makers and decision makers, but also on education leaders, on the adults around children and, most importantly, on children themselves. Mindful of children’s cognitive development, cultural differences in the conceptualization of childhood and children’s exposure to all sorts of materials and resources online, this paper explores the mutually reinforcing opportunities for both children and the multi-stakeholder Internet community through their alliances in education and Internet governance. This paper also considers the risks of inaction in the transition to education 3.0. It draws attention to a crucial element for effective change: the need to raise awareness and to support teachers, students and public authorities alike to embrace the notion of education 3.0, to consider the tools and resources needed (e-learning, data analytics, massive open online courses [MOOCs], and so on) and to engage in the phased adjustments needed at all levels of its governance. Incremental, scalable, step-by-step change is key to success in the education sector, which has already experienced many “computer-in-the-school” plans with mixed results. Education 3.0, based on pedagogy for participation and “co-design” as collaborative problem solving, buttressed on human rights and shared values, provides a comprehensive vision that can engage all actors at their level of interaction.

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