Building Media literacy in the modern classroom
From recognisable mass media sources such as television, newspapers and radio, to perhaps less recognisable forms of media such as billboards, bus shelters, and podcasts. Via their smartphones, devices, or simply when walking through the street; every day our students interact with some form of media.
Due to the pervasiveness of media and its different forms, students may not realise that they are consuming it – this is where media literacy comes in!
1. Identifying Media
Clearly defining media
An important aspect of developing media literacy involves building students’ understanding of the different types of media texts that exist and how the type of text produced can reveal its intention; ie: whether it was created to educate, inform or persuade.
Being able to firstly, identify the many different types of media in our everyday lives is the first step towards building media literacy.
1. Identify media in action.
Ask students: Identify 5 examples of media they have most recently engaged with.
2. Interpret the message and its purpose
Ask students: Is the media asking you to do something? What is the tone of the piece of media? Write down the main message you have received from the media source.
3. Evaluate the source of information used by the media text.
BTN Media Literacy: Sources
Discover BTN’s Media Literacy episode on sources to explore critical evaluation of information sources with your students.
2. Consuming Media
Consuming Media critically
At the heart of media is information, when consuming media and developing media literacy it is important that students are able to critically identify the purpose of the media they are interacting with. What is the media’s intent? Is the media text used to inform, educate or persuade?
The media’s power isn’t always immediately apparent. However, the media has an incredible capacity to influence the way we think, act and view the world.
Exploring with student’s news values, bias, and the ways in which politicians, business and social groups can influence the media is a key component to becoming media literate.
Storytelling techniques aren’t only used in fiction! Objective news sources and journalists use a range of storytelling techniques to engage audiences. However, these choices can reveal opinion, bias and values that may draw away from the objective facts of the story.
Bias and values:
What are the clear or hidden messages present in the media text? Can you identify a particular view being presented?
Does the information sound realistic or has it been sensationalised to attract clicks? Eg; capital letters, exclamation marks, evocative language.
What is a perspective? Why is it important to include and explore multiple perspectives on a topic or issue?
Watch a newsreel with your students – how many different perspectives are shown?
Inspecting the source:
From identifying, media comes analysing and evaluating the validity of the source that produced the media text.
BTN Media Literacy: News Values
Fact vs Opinion:
Copy and paste an advertorial vs editorial article or an opinion piece vs hard editorial news article into separate documents.
Which is the ad or opinion piece? What are the key differences informing your decision?
Identifying Ads Interactive Activity:
The ABC’s interactive instagram quiz is a great tool to build your students critical ‘ad’ thinking skills
False Information AKA: Fake News
Experts now recommend avoiding the term ‘fake news’, or at least limit its use, as the term ‘fake news’ is closely associated with politics, and this association can unhelpfully narrow the focus of the issue. The term ‘false information’ is preferable as it can refer to a diverse range of disinformation covering topics such as health, environment and economics across all platforms and genres, while ‘fake news’ is more narrowly understood as sensationalised political news stories.
BTN Media Literacy : Fake News
1. Take a closer look
Check the source of a story, do you recognise the website? Is it a credible/reliable source? If you are unfamiliar with the site, look in the about section or find out more information about the author.
2. Look beyond the headline
Check the entire article, many fake news stories use over the top or shocking headlines to grab attention. Headlines of fake new stories are often in ALL CAPS and use exclamation marks!!
3. Check other sources
Are other reputable news/media outlets reporting on the story? Are there any sources in the story? If so, check they are reliable or if they even exist!
4. Check the facts
Stories with false information often contain incorrect dates or altered timelines. It is also a good idea to check when the article was published, is it current or an old news story?
5. Check your biases
Are your own views or beliefs affecting your judgement of a news feature or report?
6. Is it a joke?
Satirical sites are popular online and sometimes it is not always clear whether a story is just a joke or parody… Check the website, is it known for satire or creating funny stories?
3. Creating media that matters
From passive consumers to active creators
At the heart of media is the sharing of information. When consuming media and developing media literacy it is important that students are able to critically identify credibility of the information they are engaging with and its intended purpose. What is the media’s intent? Is the media text used to inform, educate or persuade?
One of the most incredible features of our media-rich world is that students can be actively engaged in creating media that matters. That is, they can proactively share their ideas and concerns about important issues based on topics studied in class, further enhancing their understanding of a media text’s information source, values, audience and purpose. By developing media literacy, students can learn how to produce ethical and inclusive media that educates, informs and inspires their audience!
For more in-depth ideas on creating media texts in the classroom visit Enhance TV’s Screen Smart Tips.
Media Literacy Activities And Ideas:
Create an audio recording and edit it into a production that tells a coherent, compelling story, either personal or newsy.
Digital Storytelling has transformed the way we tell stories. From traditional narratives to interactive videos, our students have access to incredible storytelling tools.
For more ideas on how you can bring the power of digital storytelling check out our Students as Storytellers post here.
Create an infographic:
Translate research into a persuasive visual format, simplifying complex information using pictures, diagrams, and flowcharts.
Canva is a free graphic design platform your students can use to easily create dynamic infographics and other forms of digital media!