Media literacy is increasingly crucial in preparing students to navigate the reliability of information

Diving Brief:

  • Constructivist media decoding is a method that helps students develop critical thinking skills, enabling them to conduct their own learning while honing the ability to examine messages in a variety of media formats through curriculum-based activities which can be as short as five minutes, Chris Sperry and Cyndy Scheibe, co-founders of Project Look Sharp at Ithaca College, write for the ASCD.
  • With CMD, educators select a form of media, from a book cover to a music video, and then focus on a topic they want students to explore alongside a media goal, such as considering the credibility of a source. Students are asked questions to prompt their thinking about the content, and then asked to apply those insights more broadly.
  • In addition to examining the stories and views presented in the media, CMD approaches can also have students examine their own views, looking for evidence that supports or refute these ideas. This can help them further investigate their own biases in deconstructing the information they hear, read, and digest.

Overview of the dive:

Media literacy can help students learn to critically analyze the information they have read, seen and heard, equipping them with lifelong skills that will carry over into their adult lives, professionally and personally. Creating opportunities to reinforce these skills can also help educators promote civil discourse in students, equipping them with persuasive argumentation skills that help learners ground conversations in fact and reason.

These skills can be incorporated into a curriculum, whether students are reviewing news reports in an English or social studies class, or analyzing climate change reports in a science class. . Educators can also link these topics to real-life examples, helping learners connect to material across a variety of information sources and tap into their critical thinking skills to determine their objectivity and reliability.

For example, a majority of Americans use social media to connect and gather information, from news to entertainment, at home and at work. – although the quality of this content can often be unreliable. Media literacy, however, can better equip young people who see short videos and memes to determine whether what they are watching is fact or fiction.

Venn diagrams are another tool to help students hone their media literacy skills. Classes can compare two events and then examine the overlapping facts and details between the two. Political science or history courses can also use approved sites to locate objective sources for reports and presentations.

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