Opportunities and Challenges for Media Literacy

Today I attended the 9th Annual Northeast Media Literacy Conference hosted by University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education in conjuction with the national Action Coalition for Media Education and the National Association for Media Literacy Education.  The key note speakers included Renee Hobbs, professor at Temple University and founder of the Media Education Lab and Marc Prensky, author of Digital Natives (2010) and two other books that address technology, teaching, and the classroom.

The main focus of the key note speakers and many of the presenters was on the evolution of digital and media literacy and its future.  Thomas DeFranco, The Dean of the Neag School of Education spoke about promoting positive and responsible connections with media today and the possibility of requiring all teacher candidates to take media literacy classes as graduation requirements and teacher certification.  This is a fantastic idea, and one that all schools of education should take into action, since media literacy involves most academic subjects and across grade levels.  In addition, media literacy is an essential skill for young people to develop so that they have the tools to be digital and wise (as described by Marc Prensky).

Renee Hobbs said in her keynote, digital and media literacy are lifeskills that cannot be ignored in this digital age.  We need to address the risks, as well as the opportunities, when it comes to media and technology.  She has a great idea which she describes in Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan for Action (2010) to create Digital Media Literacy Youth Corps for youth to reach out to libraries and senior centers to help build digital media literacy for all.  I love this idea because you can bridge generations together to help each other out.  Young people can offer to tutor older people with digital media skills and at the same time build relationships and learn from one another.  This is an idea that I will have will have to pursue with my own students.  I can organize a few one-on-one tutorial sessions for my students to conduct at the local senior center. Topics to cover include decoding junk emails, answering technology questions, and even showcasing cool websites and web tools.  There are endless possibilities.


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