Theoretical and Conceptual Frameworks Affecting the Development of Media Literacy Education in the United States

Renee Hobbs Professor, Temple University Philadelphia PA USA Visual Competence Symposium Jacobs University, Bremen July 6, 2007

Rudolf Arnheim Stephen Kosslyn Howard Gardner Nelson Goodman Research on comprehension of film editing techniques among African tribal villagers

Media Literacy
Media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and communicate messages in a wide variety of forms.
--Aspen Institute Leadership Forum on Media Literacy, Washington DC (1993)

Media Literacy Education
The purpose of media literacy education is to help individuals of all ages develop the habits of inquiry and skills of expression that they need to be critical thinkers, effective communicators and active citizens in today’s world.
--Core Principles of Media Literacy Education, AMLA, St. Louis, (2007) --Core (2007)

Media Literacy Education
The goal: 70 million children and teens in U.S. public schools will get some exposure to media literacy education.

Why it Matters
Citizenship. The creation of a public sphere greatly depends upon an engaged citizenry, whose members are interested, willing and able to access information, evaluate it, and make decisions in a collaborative fashion in order to participate in civic and cultural life. Media Saturation/Identity Development. Children and adolescents spend more and more time consuming entertainment media, including television, popular music, movies, and participatory media like Internet, text messaging and videogames. Information Society. Knowledge workers use, manipulate and create information. Visual, electronic and digital media and technologies of communication (as new forms of ‘text’) are emerging as the dominant representational systems in the context of both school and daily life.

Continuing Progress in MLE
increasing diversity of media content, formats and genres widespread access to digital tools for authorship and new forms of distribution and exhibition increased public awareness of need for critical thinking about new forms of digital media state curriculum standards (now in almost every U.S. state) diverse stakeholders--- including academics, policymakers, business leaders recognized instructional practices emerging scholarly literature and empirical research implementation processes & models for teacher education case studies of practice in school & after-school graduate programs & coursework

Diverse Theoretical Frameworks
Education
adolescent literacy, critical literacy, multiliteracies, constructivism

Public Health
media effects on youth, program evaluation

Media Studies/Cultural Studies
semiotics, media ecology, ideology/institutions, interpretive communities, youth media

Instructional Practices
Reflection on Media Consumption Behaviors Critical Analysis Creative Media Production

Key Concepts of Media Literacy
1) 2) 3) 4) 5) Understanding that all messages are constructions, created by authors for specific purposes People use their individual skills, beliefs and experiences to construct meaning from messages Different forms and genres of communication make use of specific codes, conventions and symbolic forms Values and ideologies are conveyed in media messages in ways that represent certain world views Media and media messages can shape people’s perceptions of social reality, thus influencing beliefs, attitudes, behaviors and the democratic process Media messages, media industries and technologies of communication exist within a larger aesthetic, cultural, historical, political, economic and regulatory framework.

6)

Media Literacy as Analysis and Production: Benefits & Risks
“The analysisproduction formula creates a spiral of success: analysis informs production, which in turn, informs analysis.”
--Tyner, Literacy in a Digital World (1998)

Media Literacy as Analysis & Production: Benefits & Risks
“Vegetables and dessert” motivation Teacher specialization: few have qualifications in both analysis & production Analysis is privileged in the context of schooling Production viewed as mere vocationalism

Media Literacy Focuses on Mass Media & Popular Culture
In order to be responsive to the cultural worlds of children and youth, ML educators emphasize specific ways of reading messages in the genres of: advertising narrative & documentary film print & TV news media music and popular culture

Promoting Habits of Inquiry
Authorship: Who made this? Authors & Audiences Purpose: Why was it made? Who is the target audience? Economics: Who paid for it?

Impact: Who benefits from this? Why does this matter to me? Response: What kinds of actions might I take?

Promoting Habits of Inquiry
Messages & Meanings Content: What is this about? What values and points of view are expressed? What is omitted? Techniques: How was this constructed? Why were these techniques used? Interpretations: How might different people understand this message? What is my interpretation and what do I learn about myself from my reaction?

Promoting Habits of Inquiry
Representation: How does this Representations & message represent its subject? Realities Context: When was this made? Where or how was it shared? Credibility: What are the sources of information, ideas or assertions? What criteria do I use to evaluate it?

Simple Structures Help Teachers & Students Internalize Analysis Skills
Authors Audiences Messages Meanings Representations Realities

Problematizing Pleasure: How Critical?

Visual Competence Perception Decoding/Interpretation Production Intra-intercultural action

Media Literacy Access Analyze/Evaluate Communicate

Visual Competence vs. Media Literacy
Many multimedia forms are not strictly “visual” Competence suggests a state of mastery, with implied or explicit hierarchies Competence should be explicitly linked to the concept of “habits of inquiry” Visual competence implies (but does not incorporate) an educational process

Visual Competence vs. Media Literacy

Analysis is situated within decoding/ interpretation, emphasizing meaningmaking (and risking the loss of a “critical” socio-cultural perspective)

Visual Competence vs. Media Literacy
Four components of competence bring together disciplines of art history, psychology, sociology, media/cultural studies

Challenges and Opportunities

Production competence has a significant proportion of genre & medium-specificity Intercultural action competence has a significant proportion of cultural-specificity

New Media Literacy
Relationship between technology tools, symbol systems, and cognitive practices. Participatory Culture. Collaboration. Play. Appropriation and Remixing. Social networking / Distributed intelligence.

New Media Literacy
Relationship between technology tools, symbol systems, and cognitive practices. Participatory Culture. Collaboration. Play. Appropriation and Remixing. Social networking / Distributed intelligence.

Media Literacy Education
The purpose of media literacy education is to help individuals of all ages develop the habits of inquiry and skills of expression that they need to be critical thinkers, effective communicators and active citizens in today’s world.
--Core Principles of Media Literacy Education, AMLA, St. Louis, (2007) --Core (2007)

Renee Hobbs Professor Temple University School of Communications and Theater Media Education Lab http://mediaeducationlab.com Email : renee.hobbs@temple.edu

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