Media Literacy: A System for Learning Anytime, Anywhere : Part 1 Change Management

Media Literacy: Change Management

"In preparation for landing, please turn off your books!" the flight attendant announced to passengers busy with their e-readers in an April 2010 New Yorker cartoon. Hmmm….imagine that! Now imagine library shelves being…..empty. Or think of homes with bric-a-brac lining shelves and occasional displays of antiques, otherwise known as…. books. Or of schools with….no walls. Or of students with….no backpacks.

And of course, these changes are just the beginning. What was scarce in the past is now plentiful: access to information. What was plentiful in the past is now scarce: face-to-face interaction, guidance and filtering from caring adults for youth as they access information (Jolls, 2008). What used to be static is now more dynamic: design and delivery of curriculum (Steiny, 2010). What used to be dynamic is now becoming more static: individual state standards are moving to a common core of national standards (Council for Chief State School Officers, 2009). Instruction that is one-size-fits-all with lockstep progress, is now yielding to individualized instruction, tailored to individual progress. Many of these changes are rooted in technology, and the story is just beginning.

Like it or not, the very fabric of everyday school life is being rewoven. And none too soon! The call to action is compelling, with school districts around the country slashing staff, with no end in sight for shoring up funding shortfalls (Lewin and Dillon, 2010). Unlike staff, students have voluntarily left the system and voted with their feet, with an average dropout rate of 30% nationally (Khadaroo, 2009). The U.S. education system is facing unprecedented competition from abroad, placing 15th of 29 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OEDC) countries in reading literacy, 21st of 30 in scientific literacy, 25th of 30 in mathematics and 24th of 29 in problem solving (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2008). In 2007, more school-age U.S. children were schooled at home full time than attended charter schools, with 2.9% of children in grades 1-12 being taught at home and about 2% attending charter schools (Viadero, 2010), while 11% of all K-12 students attend private schools (Center for American Private Education, 2009). Employers are citing professionalism/work ethic, oral and written communications, teamwork/collaboration and critical thinking/problem solving as the most important skills for workplace readiness (Lotto and Barrington, 2006).

With these conditions, the argument over the sustainability of the present system should be over, with the real question being what characteristics the education system should now embrace and embody. Due to the proliferation of technology tools and the engagement of youth with the technology, the need for valuing change and changing values is urgent. Even those teachers and administrators hailing from "successful schools" are typically being measured by yardsticks rooted in the past, not the future. With the proliferation of media tools, media literacy is a necessity, not a luxury, for today‟ students.

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