Media & Information Literacy

Media and Information Literacy education is a recently-developed pedagogical approach that take into consideration the new cultures emerging from the Information Society. Some prefer the terms Media Education, News Literacy, Digital Literacy, Information Literacy, or 21st Century Literacies. Media Studies and Media Ecology researchers world-wide are also contributing to the development of these new educational initiatives.

The approach to media literacy education taken by the UNAOC is inclusive and open. Through the Media and Information Literacy clearinghouse the Alliance of Civilizations welcomes contributions from organizations, university departments, associations, groups and individuals who are developing new pedagogical tools, strategies, and theories that take into consideration the challenges of our hyper-mediatized world.

The UNAOC recognizes the value of Media and Information Literacy education initiatives as a platform for the development of intercultural dialogue. To that end, the Alliance is creating, in partnership with UNESCO, a network of universities within UNESCO’s Chair and UNITWIN program.

Children and youth from industrialized societies spend at least double the time immersed in electronic media (television, internet, video games, DVDs, radio, cell phones, etc.) than they do receiving formal education in schools. Much of the media they consume is aimed at selling them products or ideologies. Frequently this generation of young people spends half as much time as the previous generation participating in “family” conversations. These developments raise several questions: Who is educating our youth? Who is imparting to them ethical and social values? Who is supplying them with role models to emulate?

Most school curricula do not take into consideration this new paradigm. Indeed, to the extent that they address new technologies, schools primarily teach technical skills (i.e. how to use computers) but seldom critical thinking skills relevant to digital learning. As important as expanding internet access is, so too is the development of educational initiatives that teach media consumers how to critically interpret the information they receive.

The Alliance of Civilizations aims to contribute to an international community of knowledge regarding the development and implementation of educational initiatives that address these issues while advancing national and international media literacy education initiatives and policies. Our goals are to build dialogue and analysis in an active, participatory manner for researchers and policy makers; while providing easy access to teaching tools and resources for educators interested in implementing media literacy education in their classrooms.

Youth produced media (please see PLURAL+) is a distinct component of the information society. Most of the youth of the industrialized world are users of electronic media and – in some form or another – producers of media. They are as much creators of media content as they are consumers of media in the digital world. Recognizing and encouraging youth media is a fundamental part of media literacy education. The Alliance of Civilization media literacy education clearinghouse emphasizes this by including information on organizations, events, conferences and resources relevant to youth-produced media.

Please visit UNAOC’s Media and Information Literacy clearinghouse: http://mil.unaoc.org

For additional information on the UNAOC MIL programs, please contact Jordi Torrent, torrent@un.org

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