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Global Media Literacy in a Digital Age

Teaching Beyond Borders

by Belinha S. De Abreu (Volume editor) Melda N. Yildiz (Volume editor)
Textbook VII, 310 Pages
Series: Minding the Media, Volume 16

Summary

How do we connect with one another? How do the media portray different cultures and beliefs? What messages are often omitted from media? How do we connect what we see in the worldwide media to the classroom? This book, divided into four parts, serves to answer many of these questions. In Part 1, readers are provided with a historical look at media literacy education while glimpsing the future of this educational movement. Part 2 curates voices from around the globe, from practitioners to researchers, who provide a look at issues that are of consequence in our worldwide society. Part 3 focuses on education through cases studies that give educational perspectives and assessment opportunities. The final section, «Take Action,» offers the reader resources for growing global media literacy around the world. This timely resource provides a look at how media literacy education has become a global and interconnected dialogue brought about by the evolution of technology.

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • Part 1 Media Literacy Education Framework and Brief History
  • 1. Media Literacy: Global Connections
  • 2. World Literacy and ICTs: Educational Technologies
  • 3. Global Media Events and Moments
  • Part 2 Curating Global Voices: Contributing Authors
  • 4. Creating a Global Community of News Literacy Practice
  • 5. Digital Remix for Global Media Literacy
  • 6. Fostering Global Competencies and 21st-Century Skills through Mobile Learning
  • 7. Enhancing Media Literacy in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Toward Utilization of IT Tools in Teaching Media and Digital Literacy
  • 8. Contextualizing Global Media Literacy in the Standards-Based Classroom: Moving Beyond the Culture of the Dichotomous “Like”
  • 9. Project Censored: Building a Global “Networked Fourth Estate” in a Digital Age
  • 10. Developing Students’ Pedagogical Media Competencies and Intercultural Competencies through a U.S.-German Partnership
  • 11. Breaking Down Barriers: Digital Media and Universal Design
  • Part 3 Practice, Assessment, Action
  • 12. Global Education Projects
  • 13. Media Assessment
  • 14. Practice to Action: World Savvy Teachers
  • Part 4 Take Action
  • 15. Global Education Resources
  • Afterword: Media Literacy Goes Global
  • Appendix A: Glossary and Key Terms
  • Appendix B: Applications and Tools
  • List of Contributors
  • Index
  • Series index

← viii | ix →

Foreword

It is with great anticipation that I look to Global Media Literacy in a Digital Age, an exploration that is both timely and prescient. Political divides across the globe are as sharp as ever, but economic and cultural divides are softening more and more as the global village that Marshall McLuhan envisioned in 1962 permeates our lives. Youth throughout the world have more in common with each other than they do with their elders, as mobile phones and headsets become mandatory accessories. The generational technology divide affects individual and organizational prospects as much if not more than political divides, with just as many tribes with self-interest at stake.

We are living through the establishment of a new world order, where information—previously valued as scarce—is now plentiful. And as the scarce becomes plentiful, business models and organizational structures alike continue to topple. Education is no exception, and in fact, schools and libraries are no longer seen as temples of learning to be visited regularly, with attendant wise men and women, and rituals. Education is a pillar of society subject to radical change, and in today’s context, education is even subject to a needed revolution, moving from a factory-based model to an information-based model.

What to do, what to do? It is a simple call to recognize that the basic tenets of education must change, but no simple task to channel the change. Information is now infinitely available and subjects are infinitely variable, making the previous content silos irrelevant and, indeed, an impediment to problem solving. Yet effective information filters are scarce and opaque. When students journey through cyberspace, they no longer have adults selecting information to be shared, helping evaluate that information, and guiding them with the ← ix | x → degree of control in the past; no one accompanies youth minute-by-minute through their journeys in the global village.

But young people still need filters (and more!) for all kinds of purposes, from Internet safety to having the ability to select credible information sources. They (and we) need a mindset to go with the headset—an internalized filtering system that can be used anytime, anywhere; that is commonly shared; and that transcends cultural and national boundaries. We need algorithms for our brains, to use as we are both consuming and producing media and participating in a globalized society.

Algorithms have become the holy (and golden) grails that form the basis of search and sorting tools; they are constants applied to the infinite variety of information available. These self-contained, step-by-step sets of software operations perform calculations, data processing, and automated reasoning in exactly the same way each time; but each algorithm also has a different goal, a different value, and a different approach. We trust algorithms to identify pertinent information in response to our Internet queries, to adjust street lights to changing traffic conditions, and even to allocate our retirement savings through “robo-advisors.” Yet at the end of the day, an algorithm must fit the task at hand to enable the most effective output; judgment is still indispensible.

In a sense, media literacy is an algorithm for the brain—a consistent way of filtering and processing the infinite information available to us. Currently, the heuristic process skills of media literacy are indeed scarce and scarcely being taught, because these skills are not yet valued as highly in educational institutions as access to content knowledge. The current valuing of content knowledge at the expense of process skills creates a misalignment between education attainments and education outcomes. Rather than teach the skills citizens need to be successful in the future, an education system rooted in the past ignores what is truly important, and subsequently focuses on irrelevant outcomes to value and to measure.

This is not to say that content knowledge is unimportant—quite the contrary—but media literacy skills in the global village are needed as the central tools through which to contextualize, acquire, and apply content knowledge. Like algorithms, media literacy skills are “constants” used in deconstructing and constructing communication through a process of inquiry. Content knowledge is “variable,” with an infinite number of subjects. Having media literacy—a consistent, heuristic process of inquiry that is internalized—enhances the ability to communicate and share ideas through a common vocabulary that transcends subject areas as well as geographic boundaries. Thus, there are no “silos” within this method for teaching critical thinking, because the ← x | xi → media literacy skills are cross-cultural, cross-curricular, and common to all. It is through this process of inquiry that students acquire and master content knowledge, but both media literacy skills and content knowledge rest on a continuum of knowledge that can always be expanded and deepened.

The Aspen Institute issued a 2014 report called Learner at the Center of a Networked World, which recognized that media literacy and social/emotional literacies should be at the heart of education—not at the periphery. It is this recognition of the importance of media literacy—indeed, the global imperative to provide media literacy education—that is driving an international quest to explore what media literacy education is and how to deliver it effectively: better, faster, and cheaper.

National races to elevate human capital, now seen as the competitive key to economic success, are the modern-day equivalents of the race to the South Pole or the race to space. Such modern-day quests include media literacy, and media literacy missions have taken me to places far and near. When I visited China with an education-focused delegation sponsored by the College Board and Hanban in 2013, I was struck by road-side banners in Beijing advertising a conference on innovation and creativity, which in certain Chinese provinces are now being emphasized in an education system primarily based on rote learning. With its emphasis on critical thinking and on media construction (whether print, audio, video, or social media), media literacy is ideally suited to play a central role in the education revolution. Indeed, Finland, a country noted for its leadership in education, now has a national strategy for media literacy, called “Good Media Literacy,” adopted in 2013. And so what was outside the mainstream now comes inside.

Countries who prepare their citizens to live in the global village as well as their local villages are equipping their citizens with the discretionary, creative, and participatory skills they need to influence their destinies. The stakes are high. A 2015 open letter sponsored by the Future of Life Institute, and signed by luminaries such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, asserts that Artificial Intelligence (AI) could spell the end of the human race, as humans come to be dominated by robots. Yet must we be cowed by algorithms of our own making? Having media literacy skills empowers people to declare their independence, yet enables them to contribute to their communities and to the spirit of humanity as well. This book enables an understanding of how to be a citizen of the world—the world of today and tomorrow: the global village.

Each chapter in Global Media Literacy in a Digital Age applies a media literacy filter to a variety of topics pertinent around the world: literacy, technology, the environment, terrorism and violence, religion and culture, activism, ← xi | xii → and the education system itself. The list of topics could be endless, but rather, the discretion and judgment of these outstanding authors and editors provide a meaningful and useful curation that is a hallmark of, as the Finns say, “good media literacy.” I invite you to take advantage of this carefully prepared banquet, and to savor this moment when media literacy is poised to enjoy the global recognition and adoption that we on the edges have long espoused. It is with confidence and hope that we continue this journey to bring media literacy to the world.

Tessa Jolls

President and CEO, Center for Media Literacy

Director, Consortium for Media Literacy

Los Angeles, CA

← xii | 1 →

Introduction

BELINHA S. DE ABREU

MELDA N. YILDIZ

Are we a globally literate society? Do we consider the world around us when we view the media, or are we segmented according to the geographical area we inhabit each night? The idea of global media literacy is not so much an innovation as it is a necessity to a world that is being shaped daily by trends. These trends are carried very quickly through technological spaces and places via social networks, news sites, and so much more.

Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman stated “the world is flat,” referring to how technology has changed our world and made us into a more global, conglomerate society, since we are connected via phone wires, Internet lines, and much more. Is he wrong? No, not necessarily, but the issue is that many more connections still need to be made, especially in the world of education. In schools across the United States, the recognition that more critical digital learning is needed is taking shape through the induction of 21st-century learning skills. Media literacy education has always been considered more advanced and prevalent in other countries. However, the sweep of new digital technology has created a shared apprehension and impasse surrounding how media literacy needs to be used within the context of these new tools. When the Internet became the medium for disseminating information simultaneously around the world, the transmission of information became faster and the verification of information became questionable. These shifting sands of digital technologies generated another conversation regarding media literacy education. It was inclusive of all these new technologies and opened further international dialogue for how media literacy needed to be used in a global context. The worry is expressed best by David Buckingham in the United Kingdom, that the rhetoric of today may actually be problematic for ← 1 | 2 → media literacy education. He argued that it has become so saturated with the discussion of digital technology, digital footprints, and digital infrastructure that the capacity for understanding and learning has been set adrift by good intentions (Buckingham, 2010; De Abreu & Mihailidis, 2014; Jenkins, 2014). At least in the United Kingdom and in the European Union, policymakers have made media literacy education a priority and overall welcomed the idea of growing this type of literacy. In addition, they have demonstrated this further positive appeal by providing government resources to develop curriculum and ideas.

In the United States, the struggle for growing media literacy continues, along with the understanding that world literacy and global knowledge is lacking despite having a variety of technology sources and digital access points available. The National Geographic and Roper Public Affairs 2006 Geographic Literacy Study assessed the geographic knowledge of young American adults between the ages of 18 and 24. The results demonstrated that their world knowledge was lacking. The survey asked respondents how much they think they know about geography and other global and national subjects. Their views on the importance of geographic, technological, and cultural knowledge were also assessed. The results showed several areas of limitations, from understanding world events to general knowledge of important events from around the globe; even national events were not well known by young Americans (National Geographic Society, 2006).

This book addresses some of these concerns while considering questions such as: How do we connect with one another in a mediated society? How do the media portray different cultures and beliefs? What messages are often omitted from media? How do we connect what we see in the worldwide media to the classroom? This book will serve to answer many of these questions by providing a three part look at how media literacy education has become a global and interconnected dialogue brought about by the evolution of technology.

In Part 1, the first three chapters of the book, authored by Belinha S. De Abreu from Fairfield University, provide some historical background on media literacy education, and how literacy has progressed globally. Each of these chapters will look at how this form of literacy has grown to a worldwide audience through organizations such as UNESCO and the Alliance for Civilizations. These organizations have taken up the cause of bringing this literacy to all parts of the world. This section will also cover the global theorists who have been a voice in moving media literacy education forward in other locations such as the United Kingdom, China, and the Middle East. ← 2 | 3 →

Through thematic examples, Part 2 focuses on strategies for decoding what we know about issues of global importance and their rise to global prominence. In this section, we have a series of authors from around the globe contributing further to the consideration of what happens in the local context when an issue becomes globalized. In Chapter 4, Richard Hornik, Director of the Overseas Partnership Programs for the Center for News Literacy, Stony Brook University; Masato Kajimoto, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Hong Kong; and Jennifer Fleming, PhD, Associate Professor, California State University, Long Beach collaborated on writingCreating a Global Community of News Literacy Practice.” This chapter blends action research and reflective practice principles in the exploration of how and why a news literacy curriculum, devised and developed at the School of Journalism at Stony Brook University in New York, has organically spread to numerous countries overseas. News literacy is a specialized approach to media literacy in the sense that it shares many of the same analytic goals of media literacy education, such as teaching students how to access, analyze, and evaluate media messages. Lessons and activities in news literacy classrooms focus exclusively on news texts and images—how to identify them, how to analyze them, and how to deconstruct them. In recent years, the definition of news in news literacy has been broadened to include reliable, verified information that comes from non-traditional news sources, particularly social media.

In Chapter 5, Michael RobbGrieco, Director of Curriculum and Technology Integration at Windham Southwest Supervisory Union in Vermont, writes a piece entitled “Digital Remix for Global Media Literacy.” This chapter uses participant observation and action research to show how engaging learners in digital remix practice supports global media literacy development and helps educators resolve some of the persistent struggles in media literacy pedagogy. Digital remix involves selection, manipulation, and recombination of elements from source texts either to create new media texts or to produce altered and repurposed versions of the source texts. Remix culture involves global information flows, global memes, and cross-cultural transformations of meaning, as artists play with media artifacts, identities, and representations from all over the world. The chapter concludes with a discussion of how the success of using digital remix practice to support media literacy development depends on five factors of instructional design: clear articulation of apt learning purposes and goals; choice of remix tools in relation to learners’ technical skills and experience, source texts, content access, and/or requirements; critical group dialogue about phases of source text curation and analysis, production process, and product assessment; and degree of student choice over form and content. ← 3 | 4 →

Kristine Scharaldi from Unite to Educate continues this discussion with Chapter 6, “Fostering Global Competencies and 21st-Century Skills through Mobile Learning.” This chapter shares ideas and strategies for educators to help foster global and 21st-century competencies while utilizing mobile digital technologies. This chapter will includes examples of how educators are incorporating culturally-aware pedagogies while providing learning opportunities that engage students in thoughtful and relevant themes in the contexts of collaborative, trans-disciplinary, inquiry- and project-based approaches, as well as student engagement with digital content in varied learning environments and contexts.

Biographical notes

Belinha S. De Abreu (Volume editor) Melda N. Yildiz (Volume editor)

Belinha S. De Abreu, PhD, is a media literacy educator and Director/Assistant Professor of the Practice in Educational Technology at Fairfield University in Connecticut. She is the author/editor of several papers/books, including Media Literacy in Action: Theoretical and Pedagogical Perspectives (2014) and Media Literacy, Social Networking, and the Web 2.0 Environment for the K–12 Educator (Peter Lang, 2011). Follow @belmedia. Melda N. Yildiz, EdD, is a global scholar and teacher educator. She served as the first Fulbright Scholar in Turkmenistan. She received her EdD. in math and science and instructional technology from the University of Massachusetts, her M.S. in instructional technology from Southern Connecticut State University, and her BA in teaching English as a foreign language from Bogazici University in Turkey.

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