New media literacy: what is it?

I’m indeed very glad that, after a couple of days of indecision of my involvement with the #PLENK2010, I’ve made good progress with some of this week’s materials. In particular, I’m glad that I’ve learnt two new ideas. First, I’m happy that I’ve learnt about the idea of media literacy. Second, I’m also glad to learn about the life history of Robin Good, aka Luigi Canali De Rossi.

To make things clear from the start, the media literacy that I’ve learnt tonight should be more correctly called new media literacy. According to Wikipedia, new media is the:

“amalgamation of traditional media such as film, images, music, spoken and written word, with the interactive power of computer and communications technology, computer-enabled consumer devices and most importantly the Internet.”

The important part that the Internet and modern media technologies play in this amalgamation means that information can be made available to anyone, from anywhere, anytime. As stated in Wikipedia:

“New media holds out a possibility of on-demand access to content any time, anywhere, on any digital device, as well as interactive user feedback, creative participation and community formation around the media content.”

With such ease of creating and accessing information, as Howard Rheingold explains to his daughter:

“there is no guarantee that what you will find is authoritative, accurate, or even vaguely true….The locus of responsibility for determining the accuracy of texts shifted from the publisher to the reader…”

This new media literacy, according to Wikipedia, refers to:

“a repertoire of competences that enable people to analyze, evaluate and create messages in a wide variety of media modes, genres and forms. Media literacy education provides tools to help people critically analyze messages, offers opportunities for learners to broaden their experience of media, and helps them develop creative skills in making their own media messages..”

Our children are growing up in the new media age. The Internet is and will continue to be an important part of what they do in the home, the school or the community at large. They need to be able to question the reliability and credibility of information that are readily available to them. They need to be media literate.

The media literacy that we are talking about here is not the same as the types of literacy that we are familiar with in the traditional curriculum. The hierarchical nature of the traditional classroom discourse – in which questioning the teacher’s authority is perceived as disrespectful or a rebellious act – is not conducive to the promotion of this new form of literacy.

I believe that our classrooms need what Rheingold envisions as a form of lateral rather than hierachical pedagogy that encourages questioning and collaboration.


About Vilimaka on cruiselyna
Science teacher educator. Online teaching and learning. Use of web-based technologies in education.

4 Responses to New media literacy: what is it?

  1. Robin Good says:

    A big supporting hug from Robin. I am happy that my work and Howard’s have inspired you and that you will take with you this mission of helping our kids be able to tell crap from facts and to learn how to use and analyze information to their own benefit.

  2. Thank you Robin for your comment. I am truly inspired by what you are doing – smart, independent and good!

  3. Cris says:

    I, too, find new media literacies fascinating, Villmaka, and enjoyed the Rheingold article and your thoughtful response. I worry as you do that these literacies have not made it into the curriculum yet. How deep into the 21 st century must we go until 21 st century skills are taught?

    I have to share a terrific resource for helping teachers integrate new media literacies into the curriculum. it’s the New Media Literacies Lab (formerly at MIT and now at USD and the Annenberg School of Journalism and Communication). Henry Jenkins was the founder and one of the most knowledgeable (and coolest) researchers in this field. Here’s the link to the resource materials — Do check out Jenkins’s blog, too — And, finally, this white paper on new media literacies (a 2006 MacArthur Study) provides an excellent scholarly perspective on new media literacies —

    Enjoy and I hope you’ll write again on this topic.

  4. Hi Cris,
    Thanks for your comments, and for the links. I will definitely look at them.

    You’re quite right that we are far behind in this area of new media literacy. In particular, I’m worried more about this corner of the woods – the Pacific Islands with the diverseity of factors that play to prevent independent and critical thinking.

    At the beginning of this year, realising the importance of ICT literacy, our regional university (for the South Pacific region) decided to form up a new compter course and made it compulsory to all programmes. I am not sure, however, how well this new course is addressing media literacy.

    I will make another blog post on this topic.

    Thanks again for visiting.

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