Media literacy is defined, within North America, as “a series of communication competencies, including the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and communicate information in a variety of forms, including print and non-print messages.” It is the process by which individuals are able to successfully interpret all forms of media to which they are exposed, both technological and non-technological, allowing for communication through the use of words, images, and/or sounds. Media literacy education, the process by which individuals are taught about media literacy and how to apply the concepts learned therein to the analysis of media, is a concept that is now addressed across all grade levels, from kindergarten through the collegiate level; in working to identify the different methods by which media literacy education is applied throughout the educational system, it will be possible to determine the priority of such an education within the context of general education received.
In order to be able to accomplish this task a historical document analysis will be completed. The articles selected for inclusion within this document analysis will be compiled from a review of the school”s online library, providing access to the relevant academic journals and peer reviewed articles contained within the databases, allowing information to be gathered on the relevant studies that have been completed in recent years. In addition, a search of relevant online data will be completed, looking for potentially relevant and reputable websites as found through the use of such tools as Google and Google Scholar. Once the articles have been compiled, an analysis of the data contained therein will be undertaken, allowing for a clear determination of the priority of media literacy education within the context of a general education from kindergarten through the collegiate level. Once the analysis has been completed, it will be possible to draw conclusions regarding whether or not media literacy education is viewed as a priority and to what degree of priority it is assigned or to determine whether or not it is simply accepted as a part of daily life as a result of the prevalence of technology in everyday life.
Studies have indicated that while media literacy education occurs in all grade levels in first world countries, in spite of a focus on media literacy education in kindergarten through twelfth grade, most teachers and professors do not consider the targeted teaching of such content to be essential until the student enters into higher education courses. Worldwide trends in media literacy education show increased trends in the teaching of this subject, with increased focus in recent years in European countries, though Europe, Africa, and Asia, while now teaching the subject, do not consider it to hold the same relevance as is placed on the subject in America. Increases in available free to use programs and tools have worked to increase the focus on media literacy education by teachers due to the ease in which such lessons may now be created and incorporated into the classroom setting. In the past, media literacy was viewed almost as an afterthought, however in recent years it has become increasingly relevant, with an increasing focus placed on the subject; it is anticipated that as a result of the continued integration of technology into the daily lives of all individuals, that the focus will only continue to grow. Looking to institutes of higher learning, as a result of shifting perceptions regarding media literacy education, the focus on student competencies in regards to media literacy continues to grow, though only a small portion of students currently display competencies in regard to such information. While media literacy education is not systematically taught in secondary schools, it is increasingly integrated through the use of targeted strategies by educators in order to increase student knowledge, awareness, and competencies.
While it is clear that media literacy education is increasing in priority across the globe within the context of general education, it is likewise clear that the priority level for such an education is not increasing on the same scale. The highest priority placed on media literacy education in the world is within North America and the United States specifically. Increased priority is being placed on the subject in other countries, with Europe placing the next highest priority on the subject, though European nations are still trailing behind the United States in this regard. Furthermore, while there is an increased priority on the subject within the United States, and the focus does increase as the age and grade level of the student increases, there is not a large focus on the subject until the student reaches the levels of higher education. In spite of this increased focus, however, there is still no curriculum based precedence for a specific focus or even the specific teaching of media literacy, rather such teachings are incorporated into the basic lessons of other subjects. In spite of this lack of focus, trends indicate that as the use of technologies becomes more and more prevalent in today”s society, that such a focus is likely to change, with unique curricula being created for the purposes of teaching students specifically on the subject of media literacy.
It may be concluded that students in America are further ahead of students in Europe, Asia, and Africa in regard to the teachings of media literacy education within a generalized education setting. Furthermore, it may be concluded that there is an increasing focus on media literacy education within first world and developing nations. Finally, it may be concluded that the priority of media literacy education not only continues to rise within the generalized education setting, but continues to rise at a variable rate, based on the level of technology used within the country. It is likely that this type of disparity will continue to remain, in spite of the fact that the priority placed on such an education will continue to grow with the integration of technologies within society today. While the priority of media literacy education continues to grow, it is believed that the rate at which media literacy education is growing is disparate to the rate at which technologies are being utilized within the daily lives of individuals in first world and developing nations. Without increases in media literacy education, current students may experience increased issues within their lives beyond the school setting, causing potential problems within work environments and in the accomplishment of daily tasks.
In order to work to ensure that the priority continues to increase in regard to media literacy education, it is recommended that a curriculum shift take place, branching off additional courses in order to ensure an increased knowledge of the subject matter. It is recommended that in order for media literacy education to continue to remain a focus, that an increased focus be placed on the acquisition of such knowledge in lower grades of generalized education, introducing students to media literacy starting in grade school. If such recommendations are taken into consideration and applied, it is believed that the knowledge level of individuals will continue to rise and disparities in knowledge levels will be rectified. This increased focus on media literacy education is recommended not only to ensure that students have an easier time with technologies in their later years of schooling, but that all individuals will have an easier time with the subject matter as a result of the fact that technology has become a part of daily lives and media literacy is now necessary in order for an individual to effectively operate within society due to the increased prevalence of technology in daily life.
- Center for Media & Social Impact, (2014). The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education. [online] Available at: http://www.cmsimpact.org/fair-use/related-materials/codes/code-best-practices-fair-use-media-literacy-education [Accessed 16 Sep. 2014].
- Fedorov, A 2014, ‘Media Education Literacy in the World: Trends’, European Researcher, 67, 1-2, pp. 176-187, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 16 September 2014.
- Hobbs, R, & Jensen, A 2009, ‘The Past, Present, and Future of Media Literacy Education’, Journal Of Media Literacy Education, 1, 1, pp. 1-11, Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 16 September 2014.
- Mihailidis, P, & Cohen, J 2013, ‘Exploring Curation as a Core Competency in Digital and Media Literacy Education’, Journal Of Interactive Media In Education, pp. 1-19, Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 16 September 2014.
- Schmidt, HC 2012, ‘Media, Millennials, and the Academy: Understanding the State of Media Literacy Within Higher Education’, Journal On Excellence In College Teaching, 23, 4, pp. 53-75, Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 16 September 2014.