It behooves educators to be familiar with media’s role in this changing world. Media literacy demands a close look at social media as a very real and viable choice of interaction between students and teachers. Media is here to stay as a main component of how society shares information across a vast population quickly.
Media literacy encompasses the realm of these concerns, and its systematic study can reconcile valid fears. Here are some points as to how being literate with social media can benefit students.
The Benefits of Media Literacy
While some teachers fear it, others are realizing the potential to reach more students through things digital natives are familiar with. Social media is a form of differentiating instruction. When importance is given to finding and harnessing ways that students learn best, the modern teacher benefits as much as students. At the same time we must be addressing citizenship within the digital community. Otherwise students are left to fend for themselves online. We do a disservice to them by leaving them uninformed.
The changing world is indelibly marked by the lens of politics seen through social media. We are seeing more information (and misinformation) about those who strive for public service, and that information is at our fingertips. Twitter, Facebook, and various news sites keep us up to date in real time. As such, citizens are more informed than they were a decade ago. Part of media literacy is the crucial ability to determine reliability of all that information.
A New Community
Community building has also taken on a new meaning. Remember the old advice warning you not to talk to strangers? It’s now easier to make contact with anyone. Quora members can ask questions about celebrities, and it’s not uncommon for the professional to answer themselves. Commenting on other’s posts is commonplace in any news site or blog, and conversations are going on 24-7. The concern is the dangers of blindly entering relationships with less than reputable characters. This should be addressed in a comprehensive course of digital citizenship.
Media literacy even helps us take vast amounts of data and compile them into immediately understood presentations. This is literally changing the face and the pace of education. TEDTalks, Kahn Academy, and YouTube and the like are now becoming storehouses of presentations, lectures and lessons which stand the test of time. As a result they can be used as extensions of anyone’s lesson. Below is a great example from YouTube.
Applying the 2Ls of Media Fluency
With these points to keep in mind, let’s examine how Media Fluency can make sense of a waterfall of images, videos, and text. There are 2 roles we play in having media literacy. They mirror the 2Ls of Media Fluency:
- Listen—one who observes media and absorbs its content
- Leverage—one who actively uses media at their own disposal for their own presentation of information
To know both sides gives budding media specialists the advantage of having an awareness of what goes into creating media, and knowing what makes good media accessible. To know both lifts the veil of ambiguity. It makes us aware of the pitfalls of untrue media for advertisement’s sake vs. truthful public service messages.
- How do we understand a particular media message?
- Is the message loud and clear?
- Is it accurate and adequately verified?
- How effectively was it delivered?
- Did it serve the message?
- Did it flow well?
- Do we fully understand our intended audience?
- What is the major objective of our message?
- What will the content consist of?
- What is our strategy to get our audience from point A to point B?
- How will we lay out our content for logical understanding?
- How will we effectively debrief, review, and/or revise what we’ve done?
To conclude, as students understand the creation process of media presentations, they will gain insight into the purpose of particular media formats. Think about being a cook in a restaurant who lives behind the scenes and has a more informed picture of the process and purpose of food service.
By teaching media literacy, we can discern more intuitively the reliable and unreliable sources. Don’t let your students fall victim to misinformation.