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The Relevance of a New Literacy in the Information Age

Essay 2010 10 Seiten

Didaktik - Englisch - Pädagogik, Sprachwissenschaft


Academic Writing 16 February 2010

“Talk Back” - The Relevance of a New Literacy in the Information Age

What are the main objectives of education? Pupils should develop skills which enable them to learn independently as a basis for lifelong learning. An important factor of lifelong learning is the ability to filter information and to evaluate them critically. This aspect of education, however, has become increasingly difficult. “Education necessarily involves a medium” (Downs 7) but the number a different media has expanded significantly in the past years. In other words, there is a “paradigm shift from a print culture...” (Thoman 1) with the book as the most prominent medium “.. .to an image culture” (Thoman 1) with various forms of different media[1]. With regard to that, “young people spend significant time engaging with multiple forms of media” (Kellner/Share qtd. in Gainer/Valdez-Gainer/Kinard 675), they communication via the internet, they watch series in TV, play video games and they are confronted with advertisements every day. As soon as 1982, the UNESCO demanded a preparation of young people “.living in a world of powerful images, words and sounds” (qtd. in Thoman 1). Many countries have already reacted to our “increasingly mediated culture” (Share/Jolls/Thoman 6) and integrated Media Education into their curricula. This essay aims to underline the significance of media education in order to prepare the pupils for living in the Information Age (Maglic 1). First, the main objectives of an effective media education have to be defined. Second, I will present the “Action Learning model” (Thoman 3) which aims at a deeper understanding of multiple forms of media. Finally, I will introduce a concrete example of media education in school which can be easily integrated into the lesson of younger or older pupils.

What are the main objectives of media education in school? Media education in school is often reduced to technical aspects which means that the pupils learn to use new technologies for instance to work with a computer (Maglic 4). Apart from that, teachers primarily use the new media “to deliver content in their own particular subjects in more interesting and effective ways”

(Harriman 20) they show, for example, illustrations of a certain topic via a PC-based presentation. On the one hand, the usage of the new media is motivating for most of the pupils as it is part of their everyday life. On the other hand, the integration of different forms of media into the lessons, namely media didactics, is only a small part of media education (Reid 50). In fact, the main objective of media education is the development of media literacy. The term literacy describes the ability to understand and interpret letters (Downs 8). Similarly, the term media literacy does not represent “a finite body of knowledge but rather a skill, a process, a way of thinking...” (Thoman 1). Correspondingly, media literacy includes different competences related to the usage of media. Besides the technical dimension, Maglic defines a social, concerning the communication via different media, a cultural and a reflective dimension of media literacy (4). Most of the didactical researchers define media literacy by focusing on the reflective dimension which necessarily involves the process of evaluation (Gainer/Valdez-Gainer/Kinard 675, Harriman 21, Reid 51, Thoman 1). Thus, a media literate pupil should be able to “.critically and responsibly read, use, and create media in all its forms” (Reid 51). That is why media literacy can also be defined as critical media literacy (Gainer/Valdez-Gainer/Kinard 675).

How shall teachers initiate the process of developing the media literacy of their pupils? Ideally, media education should combine different approaches (Thoman 2). In order to facilitate a deeper understanding of a medium, it is essential to combine analytical and productive tasks (Harriman 24). Moreover, an evaluation of the results, for instance in form of a discussion, should take place to encourage the critical thinking of the pupils.

The “Action Learning Model” (Thoman 2) combines these different aspects of successful media education. The experiences with a medium are structured into different stages, specifically awareness, analysis, reflection and action (Share/Jolls/Thoman 9). During the stages of awareness and analysis the pupils examine the relevance of the medium in their life and observe certain characteristics (Thoman 3).


[1] “media refers to all means of communicating information, whatever its formation” (Reid 51)


ISBN (eBook)
397 KB
Institution / Hochschule
Philipps-Universität Marburg – Anglistik/Amerikanistik
media literacy media education bubble project critical media literacy action learning model medialit kit Center for Media Literacy New Media



Titel: The Relevance of a New Literacy in the Information Age