Teaching “New” Media Literacy to Students

I have subscribed to the Mediashift blog since I began my Netvibes account over a year ago. I enjoy the read and am interested in the idea of how mainstream media is changing with the ever increasing popularity of Youtube, social networking and the likes.  And my interest was highly piqued with a recent article entitled New Media Literacy as Important for Educators as Students.

In the article, Mark Glaser, the blog’s author, discusses what he “took away” from the Media: Overseas Conversations IV conference he recently attended, and surprisingly, most of the topics Mr. Glaser discusses have to do with education’s role in media.

“But with the rise of new media, perhaps the focus of media literacy education should shift to educating the educators — and other adults — about blogs, podcasts, social networking, mobile content and virtual worlds. That way, adults could relate better to students and help them understand the world in which they are digital natives.”

I definitely agree with Mr. Glaser’s thoughts.  Educators need to be trained about what these new technologies and media outlets are and how they impact the lives of their students.  Media is no longer just the nightly news on the television or the Sunday newspaper as it was when many educators were young.  Students today access media in an ever increasing variety of ways. 

If you are an educator or student I suggest giving his blog post a look and then taking a few minutes to reflect upon the questions he asks in the article.

Below are my thoughts on some of the questions Mr. Glaser poses.

Should media literacy classes be required in schools? Ideally media literacy  should be “taught” in all classes as students research topics, keep up-to-date with the news, create digital stories, etc.  The problem lies in educating the adults in the classroom about the “new” media and technology.  Educators need to understand the relevance and importance of teaching students how to navigate and validate these new sources, and then they must be given TIME to teach students what they have learned; the “curriculum” is already stuffed full of information being “tested” and unfortunately many teachers feel unable to allocate any time to teaching anything not on “the test.” 

Oh, and teachers also need to be okay with giving up a little bit of control and allowing students to teach them every once and awhile. 

What’s the best way for teachers and students to learn about new media in a collaborative way?  I think the best way for teachers and students to learn about new media (and new technologies) is to explore them together and discuss.  At the onset, students may seem to be more knowledgeable about the “new” media than the teachers, and that is okay.  I would venture to guess that most students feel more comfortable in the digital realm than many of their teachers.  And although students may know how to access the media, they do not always know what to do with it. The teacher’s role should be to guide students in questioning, reflecting, synthesizing and validating what they find.

I have shared my thoughts.  What do YOU think?

Explore posts in the same categories: Education, Mark Glaser, Media, Mediashift, PBS

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