All media products, such as television programmes, films, CDs, books, newspapers, website pages, election campaigns, etc. can be used to teach media literacy. Many of these texts, such as comics, graphic novels and photographs are also visual texts, and specific suggestions for reading these texts can be found on pages in the Reading Visual Texts section. The ideas and strategies found in Reading Information-based Texts can also be used with media texts.
Here we look more closely at media texts in general and at the key concepts that underpin all media literacy. Whenever a media product is being read, discussed, or produced, some aspects of the key concepts, (construction, text, audience and production) should be considered.
TIPS FOR INTEGRATING MEDIA LITERACY IN THE CLASSROOM
Here is some advice for making media education a meaningful and integrated part of your classroom practice:
Start and end with the key concepts of media literacy.
Exploit “teachable moments” with advertisements, newspapers, book covers and other media texts.
Create opportunities for students to produce media, not just analyze it.
Recognize that young children, teens – and adults – enjoy media
It’s important not to take a negative approach to media education. Teach students that critiquing is not necessarily the same thing as criticizing and that we can identify and talk about problematic issues in the media we love without losing our enjoyment of them. Don’t forget to look at positive examples when discussing things like gender, stereotyping and so on.
Look for media education opportunities in different contexts. For example, have students analyze the difference between a film and book version of a story using the key concepts. How are the commercial considerations of a movie different from those of a book or a play? What technical differences change how the story is told? How are the expectations of a movie audience different from those of a play or a book? How are the filmmakers’ values and assumptions similar to, or different from, the original author’s? How do all of these differences affect the explicit or implicit meaning?.
Students often try to avoid talking about the implications of media products by saying “it’s only a TV show” – or a video game or a music video. Remind them that media can have meaning even if the creators didn’t plan it, and that we rely as much on the media as on anything else to tell us about the world. For instance, research has shown persuasively that media consumption can affect how we see others and how we see ourselves, even if we don’t realize it – a condition known as implicit or unconscious bias – and the presence or absence of different groups in media has been shown to affect how people feel about those groups.
You don’t have to be a media expert to teach media literacy, but it helps to be current about what students are watching, playing, reading, wearing and listening to, not to mention what they’re doing online. This is a great opportunity to let students be the experts.
Adapted from Media Smarts
KEY CONCEPTS OF MEDIA LITERACY
All media messages are ‘constructed.’
Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules.
Different people experience the same media message differently.
Media have embedded values and points of view.
Most media messages are organized to gain proﬁt and/or power.
It is important to help students develop skills and strategies that will empower them to negotiate media texts critically. In order to do this students must come to understand that:
there is no one ’true’ meaning, but rather a range of possible meanings in a text
the reader plays an active role in the negotiation of meaning
this role involves conscious choices rather than the unconscious acceptance of "preferred" readings