How to Teach Media Literacy

Heuristics, Nudge Theory and the Internet of Things

If the ultimate goal of media literacy is to make wise choices possible, we must ask ourselves, “How do people make decisions?” and “What role can media literacy education play in this decision-making process?” Nudge theory suggests that heuristics can be approached deliberately to encourage/enable helpful thinking and decisions, and that this is more effective in shifting individual and group behavior than by traditional threats, laws, policies, enforcement, etc.

Where Are We Now? Institutionalizing Media Literacy

Media literacy is now recognized as a skill-set that should be at the center of education today – but change management continues to be needed to realize this vision.  John Kotter, a professor at Harvard Business School and a change management expert, introduced a series of eight steps – considered classics -- in his 1995 book, “Leading Change.”  New media tools can amplify these steps towards faster adoption of new ideas and processes.  Includes an interview with leaders of NAMLE. 

What's in a Name?

In 2006 Henry Jenkins published a white paper identifying the challenges and opportunities for media literacy in our 21st century media culture. Since then, new ideas, new technologies, and new names have emerged bringing with them misunderstandings and rifts among educators. It’s time to reflect on where we’ve been and where we are now.  

Voices of Media Literacy

The Voices of Media Literacy project, sponsored by Tessa Jolls and Barbara Walkosz, features interviews of 20 early pioneers who shaped the field into what it is today.  As Executive Editor Tessa Jolls comments, “These people know what media literacy is, and are able to articulate it and express it because they lived it and helped invent it.”  

Teaching Healthy Skepticism

Media literacy educators want to help students become aware of the need to question media messages rather than simply accept them.  But students don’t learn those skills so readily when teachers tell them what to accept or reject.  In this issue, we share our strategies for helping students develop a healthy skepticism about media. 

Systems Thinking and Media Literacy

In this issue, we discuss the work of the Waters Foundation and the movement towards the use of systems thinking tools in K-12 education and the strong connections to media literacy.  We explain what systems thinking is, trace the connections between systems thinking and media literacy, discuss the research which supports the use of systems thinking in K-12 schooling, and discuss how systems thinking can be used to solve real-world problems.  

Sexism in Media

What is clear is that the majority of media offer images of beauty to young girls which are virtually impossible to attain.  Many of those images also offer a hyper-sexualized model of feminine identity for girls to emulate.  In this issue, you’ll find reviews of two films from the Media Education Foundation which will help you discuss issues of media, sexuality and gender identity with your students and children.   

Faith and Media Literacy

Catholic educators have been active in the field of media literacy since its inception. In this country, Elizabeth Thoman, CHM, founded Media and Values magazine in 1977 to explore the influence of media on family life, education and citizenship in a democratic society.  In 1989, when the audience for Media and Values had grown substantially, Thoman founded the Center for Media Literacy to publish curriculum and develop models for teacher training.   

Fair Use and Media Literacy

This issue of “Connections” focuses on fair use of copyrighted works because it is an issue integral to the practice of media literacy education.  Two articles draw from documents produced by media and legal scholars: “The Cost of Copyright Confusion for Media Literacy Educators” and a “Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Educators.” 

Pages