More connected? Additional devices do not reduce “unsettling” media skills
What is media literacy for students?
Media literacy is the ability to understand the validity and intent of a medium. The term can apply to any form of media that students interact with. This includes images in class and in projects, instructional videos, texts and other resources. It also applies to media outside of the classroom, from billboards and television to social media feeds.
The term media literacy is often used when news literacy or information literacy would be more appropriate, such as when students research information and try to identify relevant, appropriate sources. News and information literacy require students to have a range of critical thinking, analysis, and objectivity skills.
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Why is it important to impart media skills in the digital age?
In 2019, the Stanford History Education Group published a study – a follow-up to their 2016 research – that found 90 percent of high school students failed four out of six information literacy ratings. The researchers called the results “troubling” and they are not the only observers who have come to this conclusion.
Adams says his organization found similar results on student tests. “We see that the students struggled to understand exactly what makes standards-based quality journalism different from other forms of information,” he says. “They also have difficulty figuring out what constitutes evidence of a claim and what is not, or differentiating between a good quality, reliable and an unreliable source.”
As an educational advisor, Frank Baker works with librarians and teachers to improve media literacy. One of the common concerns, he says, is that “Children don’t verify anything. They just want the information quickly, so enter a search term in Google and expect Google to check the results. “
Despite being digital natives, students need guidance from educators to learn how to appropriately use the tools at their disposal. In other cases, even after being taught how to verify information, students choose the path of least resistance.
“It’s tough for them,” says Susan Yuly, a retired library media specialist with the Upper Arlington City Schools in Ohio. “They have all of this homework to do, so they’re looking for the cheapest way to get what they need. That is why I recommend not only a one-off media skills course, but also to the librarians as information specialists in the construction work [high school] Teachers to try to integrate the lessons in which the students learn in different disciplines every four years. “
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How can students develop better media literacy?
With more devices in schools, educators have more opportunities to discuss media literacy in the classroom and incorporate it into the classroom. Educators should work with the school librarian – an expert in research and information – to incorporate the teachings into their teaching.
“We need every teacher in every discipline to teach media literacy,” says Baker. “If you are a teacher and you use pictures or videos in a classroom, then you need a heavy dose of media literacy so that we can help young people think critically because the evidence is clear, they don’t think critically.”
Yutzy adds that collaboration between librarians and educators should start early. “As librarians, it’s really appropriate to teach across the K-12 so that we can show the youngsters some of the techniques,” she says. “Then we don’t try to get rid of bad habits, which happens when they get into middle and high school. They have developed some pretty bad habits about how they rate media. “