Are You Media Literate? Are Your Children?

The inaugural Media Literacy Week in the United States kicked off yesterday. By following #MediaLitWk on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms you can find articles, lesson ideas, and inspirations from media literacy experts and scholars. While Canada has been observing Media Literacy Week for a decade, the new emphasis on digital citizenship in the U.S. makes 2015 the perfect year to draw more attention to media literacy education as well. The thing is, media literacy is not just for children in this digital age, it is a skill all of us should continue to develop.

Larry Magid, CEO of ConnectSafely and technology journalist, talked with Michelle Ciulla Lipkin, Executive Director of the National Association of Media Literacy Education or NAMLE, about how media literacy is a skill that all of us need, especially during election season. They discussed the fact that, due to the availability of information and creation tools online, we are all consumers and publishers. Therefore, we need to be mindful that we are using critical media literacy skills all the time. You can find the full article here. The recording of their discussion is embedded below.

Our children are growing up in a digital age, and therefore literacy no longer simply implies the ability to read and write text. Schools have a special responsibility to shift the way literacy is being taught. NAMLE has outlines the elements of media literacy on the Media Literacy Week website.
As an educator, I have seen first hand that technology can be a powerful tool for learning, collaboration, creation, and sharing in the classroom. But our students need to distinguish between the media they need and the media they don't. The need to synthesize what they've learned and communicate it effectively in a variety of ways. From my own experience, there are some creative and fun ways to help students develop these skills in school. My article for ConnectSafely, How educators can talk with students about media literacy, is full of tips and links to free resources and tools. I've tested every one in my own classroom and have seen results with my own students.

I'm looking forward to attending a Media Literacy Meet Up in Boston this week to represent educators and talk with resource providers, advocacy groups, and scholars. Media Literacy Now is partnering with the Engagement Lab at Emerson College to bring stakeholders together. We are hoping that Media Literacy Week is the spark that gets the discussion going so that we can join forces and build a lasting movement. Since literacy has taken on a new meaning over the past decade or so, let's all take responsibility for how we consume and share information.

I closed my article for ConnectSafely with this paragraph. Although it is directed toward educators, the message can carry over to any profession and to parents.

This week, the first Media Literacy Week in the United States, is an opportunity for teachers to talk with students about what literacy really means. It is also an opportunity for our students to ask great questions, find fascinating answers, look carefully at what they find, and share their learning with amazing creations. Let’s not let this opportunity pass, and let’s not let these conversations stop after this week.


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