MEDIA LITERACY 101: I. What is Media Literacy?

Subject: Digital Literacy
Grade Level: All
Source: Cable in the Classroom

Literacy has traditionally centered on reading and writing. The Information Age, however, has changed everything. Information media now extend far beyond paper, to movies, radio, television, the Internet (including email, Web sites, messaging, blogs, social networking, and more), computers, cell phones, and other new technologies. In the 21st Century, a truly literate person has to be comfortable using all of the media through which we tell stories and share information. Our children must be literate in these new media to have a proper foundation for their future.

The new definition of media literacy now includes the ability to access, understand, analyze, evaluate and create media messages on television, the Internet, cell phones, and other communications technologies. Let’s define the specific terms:

Access: Knowing how to search for and find relevant information, whether online or on a library shelf.

Understand: Knowing how to decode and make sense of the way information is presented, whether reading text or "reading" the multimedia content of a Web page.

Analyze: Examining the content to ascertain purpose, point of view, validity, and reliability.

Evaluate: Determining the value of the content for you and for others.

Create: Producing your own media messages, from letters to signs to videos and PowerPoint presentations, to Web pages and cell phone text messages.


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