Each and every educator in a K-12 classroom is responsible for helping students develop digital and media literacy skills. In today’s fast-paced, ever-changing world, we rarely ever rely solely on books to get information. Technology is a constant presence in almost every aspect of our lives. In order for students to be successful, they must have the ability and desire to navigate the digital world, as well as evaluate and understand media messages they encounter.
This might seem like a daunting task in an already too busy school day. However, teaching digital & media literacy skills is important because it “provides students with the tools they need to explore content in a wide range of subject areas” (Scheibe & Rogow, p. 20, 2011). So, regardless of what age, grade, subject area, etc. that you teach, you are responsible for teaching these skills to your students! While certainly easier said than done, it is possible. What challenges and issues do you foresee in integrating digital and media literacy skills into your classroom?
The main challenge that educators must overcome is the misconception that technology is the enemy in the classroom. Many people- both teachers and parents- may cringe at the above picture, claiming that kids these days are glued to their phones, tablets, and computers 24/7. However, we must teach children and parents alike the importance of using technology as a tool to take action, find answers and drive change.
Media Smarts recognizes that we must “Fight the perception that ‘it doesn’t matter’” (MediaSmarts, 2016). This refers to the idea that people will say, “it’s just a TV commercial” or “it’s just a song”. We must combat this idea in our classrooms so that students understand that media messages ARE important. Consumption of media messages can unconsciously influence how students think and feel about people or groups of people. Students must be media literate so they are able to analyze, understand and even create these messages.
It is never JUST a TV show.
A final issue that educators may face is the availability of digital resources in the classroom. In the environment where I currently teach, there is only one computer and one SmartBoard in my room. We share 30 Chromebooks among the whole school. With limited technology available in many classrooms across the nation, how do we prepare students to face our increasingly technological world? It’s important to create opportunities that allow your students to practice digital citizenship in an authentic manner. Invite students to bring their own forms of media to the classroom, and help guide them in analyzing this media. If you are just getting started with digital and media literacy skills in your classroom, here are some resources to explore to help get you started:
- Media Smarts (http://mediasmarts.ca/)
- EduTopia’s Blog (http://www.edutopia.org/blog/introducing-social-media-lower-elementary-beth-holland)
- Frank Baker’s Media Integration Website (http://frankwbaker.com/)
Baker, F. (2012). Media literacy in the k-12 classrooms. International Society for Technology Education: Washington, DC.
Canada’s Centre for Digital and Media Literacy. MediaSmarts. Retrieved from http://mediasmarts.ca/
Intel Free Press. (14 September 2010). Kids with education tablet computers [Digital image]. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/intelfreepress/9527140076/sizes/o/in/photosteam/
Scheibe, C., & Rogow, F. (2012). The teacher’s guide to media literacy: critical thinking in a multimedia world. Corwin: Thousand Oaks, CA.