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Media literacy is the process of accessing, analyzing, evaluating and creating messages in a wide variety of forms. It uses an inquiry-based instructional model that encourages people to ask questions about what they watch, see and read. Media literacy education is one means of developing media literacy. It provides tools to help people critically analyze messages to detect propaganda, censorship, and bias in news and public affairs programming (and the reasons for such), and to understand how structural features -- such as media ownership, or its funding model[1] -- affect the information presented. Media literacy aims to enable people to be skillful creators and producers of media messages, both to facilitate an understanding as to the strengths and limitations of each medium, as well as to create independent media. Media literacy is an expanded conceptualization of literacy. By transforming the process of media consumption into an active and critical process, people gain greater awareness of the potential for misrepresentation and manipulation (especially through commercials and public relations techniques), and understand the role of mass media and participatory media in constructing views of reality.[2][3]

History and dispersalEdit

Media education is developing in Great Britain, Australia, South Africa, Canada, the United States, with a growing interest in the Netherlands, Italy, Greece, Austria, and Switzerland among many other nations.

Media literacy was originally established as an educational tool to protect people from what many perceived to be mass media's ill effects. The earliest country known to use this inoculative paradigm was Great Britain in the 1930s. In the 1960s, there was a paradigm shift in the field of media literacy to emphasize working within popular culture rather than trying to convince people that popular culture was primarily destructive. This was known as the popular arts paradigm. In the 1980s, there came a recognition that the ideological power of the media was tied to the naturalization of the image. Constructed messages were being passed off as natural ones. The focus of media literacy also shifted to the consumption of images and representations, also known as the representational paradigm.[4] In the United Kingdom and Australia media literacy is often a stand alone credit course, as well as part of the English curricula.

In Australia, media education was influenced by developments in Britain related to the inoculation, popular arts and demystification approaches. Key theorists who influenced Australian media education were Graeme Turner and John Hartley who helped develop Australian media and cultural studies. During the 1980s and 1990s Western Australians, Robyn Quin and Barrie MacMahon wrote seminal text books such as Real Images, translating many complex media theories into classroom appropriate learning frameworks. Currently, in most Australian states media is one of five strands of the Arts Key Learning Area and includes "essential learnings" or "outcomes" listed for various stages of development. At the senior level (years 11 and 12), several states offer Media Studies as an elective. For example, many Queensland schools offer Film, Television and New Media, while Victorian schools offer VCE Media. Media education is supported by the teacher professional association Australian Teachers of Media (ATOM) which publishes a range of resources and the excellent Screen Education.

In areas of Europe, media education has seen many different forms. Media education was introduced into the Finnish elementary curriculum in 1970 and into high schools in 1977. But the media education we know today did not evolve in Finland until the 1990s. Media education has been compulsory in Sweden since 1980 and in Denmark since 1970. In both Nordic countries, media education evolved in the 1980s and 1990s as media education gradually moved away from moralizing attitudes towards an approach that is more searching and pupil-centred. In 1994, the Danish education bill gave recognition to media education but it is still not an integrated part of the school. The focus in Denmark seems to be on information technology. France has taught film from the inception of the medium, but it has only been recently that conferences and media courses for teachers have been organised with the inclusion of media production. Germany saw theoretical publications on media literacy in the 1970s and 80s, with a growing interest for media education inside and outside the educational system in the 80s and 90s.

In North America, the concept of media literacy as a topic of education first arose in 1978 with the formation of the Ontario Association for Media Literacy (AML). Canada is the foremost country to require media literacy in North America. Every province has mandated media education in its curriculum. The launching of media education came about for two reasons. One reason was the concern about the pervasiveness of American popular culture and the other was the education system-driven necessity of contexts for new educational paradigms. Media education is less widespread in formal schooling in the United States, in part because of the decentralized nature of the education system in a country with 70 million children now in public or private schools. There is no central authority making nationwide curriculum recommendations, and each of the fifty states has numerous school districts, each of which operates with a great degree of independence from one another. However, an increasing number of school districts have begun to develop school-wide programs, elective courses, and other after-school opportunities for media analysis and production. Nearly all 50 states have language that supports media literacy in state curriculum frameworks. Leading universities such as Columbia University, New York University, the University of Texas-Austin, and Temple University offer courses and summer institutes in media literacy for pre-service teachers and graduate students. In South Africa, the increasing demand for Media Education has evolved from the dismantling of apartheid and the 1994 democratic elections. The first national Media Education conference in South Africa was actually held in 1990 and the new national curriculum has been in the writing stages since 1997. Since this curriculum strives to reflect the values and prinicples of a democratic society there seems to be an opportunity for critical literacy and Media Education in Languages and Culture courses

Proponents of media literacyEdit


ReferencesEdit

  1. See Corporate media and Public service broadcasting
  2. e.g., Media Literacy Resource Guide, Ministry of Education Ontario, 1997
  3. e.g., http://www.opi.mt.gov/pdf/Standards/ContStds-Media%20Lit.pdf
  4. Buckingham, David, [1]

External linksEdit

  • [4] Teachingmedialiteracy.com: a site with extensive links, resources, and readings on teaching media literacy.
  • Media Literacy Research Institute in Japan - a key resource for citizens-based media literacy workshops, teaching materials and research in Japan (mostly Japanese)


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