Approved on July 9 by Governor JB Pritzker, House Bill 234 will require all public high schools in Illinois to include media education in their curriculum during the 2022-2023 school year.
With this bill, Illinois becomes the first state to require media education in public high schools.
Musonda Kapatamoyo, chairman of the mass communications department, said he believed the bill would greatly help students.
“I think it will help them [to] basically understand what is happening in the media landscape. So right now there is a lot of confusion about the sources of information and a lot of confusion about the interpretation of the information, ”Kapatamoyo said. “Having a background in media literacy helps everyone – students and society at large – essentially discern what is a true story and what is not. “
For his department, Kapatamoyo said he believes the bill will have a positive impact on mass communication students and the way classes will be taught in the future.
“I hope that in the future, in a few years, the students who will come here will have the means to access the media they want and to analyze them critically and also to communicate the information that they want. they want to communicate in a way that people understand and is actually real information, ”Kapatamoyo said.
Kapatamoyo said he would try to work with local high schools such as Edwardsville High School to try to prepare teachers to deliver media literacy classes.
“What we have done in this department is that we have created a certificate program in media education. This certificate program has nine credit hours, which means it’s three courses. A high school teacher takes this [for that] certificate and once they graduate they are able to teach media literacy students in a much better understanding because our certificate program is state of the art, ”Kapatamoyo said.
Political science professor Laurie Rice said she believes media literacy is especially important at a young age to help educate people to find reliable sources of information.
“Media literacy is an important skill to possess, and despite the digital literacy of most college students, media literacy does not automatically come with it. I regularly have students who express that they don’t know what information sources to trust or where to go to get good information, so I think this will be a useful skill for students to develop before entering. university, ”Rice said.
Mass communication professor Gary Hicks has said he welcomes the inclusion of media education in high schools, but sees some limits to how it will be implemented.
“I think media literacy is extremely important. Obviously we talk about it at the university level… But it concerns me on several levels. I think high school is just too late. We live in a society in which children from an early age are turned into commodities and they are taught by business – through the media – how to behave in a society and not taught critical or analytical skills ”, Hicks said.
Rice said she believed the most recent problems with finding reliable sources of information created the polarization America faces today.
“I think it’s become clear over the past couple of years that American media choices are helping fuel polarization, and so we’ve reached a point where at least the extreme supporters are struggling to agree on a set of common facts. We see this in the news about the 2020 elections [and] we are seeing that happening right now with COVID-19, the masks and the vaccines, ”Rice said. “People’s information choices have an impact on what they believe to be true and how they see the world. “