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Exploring Media Literacy for Adult Learners

Are you teaching media literacy as part of your Adult Basic Education or ESL program?  LINCS is seeking to expand knowledge and resources around media literacy education for adult learners, and we need your help.

LINCS and The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) are collaborating on a webinar and panel discussion later this year, focusing on media literacy for adult educators.  NAMLE's mission defines media literacy education as help[ing] individuals of all ages develop habits of inquiry and skills of expression needed to become critical thinkers, effective communications and active citizens in a world where mass media, popular culture and digital technologies play an important role for individuals and society.  

I invite you to contact me to learn about plans for our webinar and panel discussion, and to see how you can be involved in shaping the conversation.  Ideas are welcome in this thread, or you can reach out to me via email at the address listed below.

Mike Cruse

LINCS Moderator

michaelcruse74@gmail.com

 

 

Comments

Jeri Gue's picture
Fifty

Thank you for this information, Mike.  I am very interested in learning more about media literacy in adult education.

Jeri

Michael Cruse's picture
One hundred

Thank you, Jeri.  It's great to hear that there is some interest in the topic.  I wonder if you, and others, have thoughts on different sub-topics that would be most interesting to your staff and learners?  Below is a list of potential sub-topics - by no means exhaustive - for members to think about.  Please let us know if you have preferred sub-topics, and feel free to include any not on this list.

  • Civic participation media: voting rights, registration issues, volunteerism, etc.
  • Banking and financial media: account types, financial products, etc. 
  • Health and wellness media: insurance, pharmaceuticals, screenings, nutrition, etc.
  • Legal media: U.S. court system, attorney representation, etc.

Best,

Mike Cruse

michaelcruse74@gmail.com

 

 

Jeri Gue's picture
Fifty

Mike,

This is a new topic for me.  I wonder what jobs are available in the field.  I look forward to learning more about media literacy and how we can prepare our students to develop skills in this area, and maybe prepare for future employment in the world of media.

Jeri

Megan DeMott-Quigley's picture

Thank you for this, Michael.  My students and I enjoyed exploring these topics this past year.  Newsela was a good resource, because I had some flexibility in adapting the vocabulary level for different students which allowed everyone in class to access shared content for seminar conversations and partner activities.  I would add work/workplace trends and local environmental/weather trends as two additional possible topics.

Megan

(1st time posting)

Michael Cruse's picture
One hundred

Hi, Megan -

It's great to hear a little about your experience using Newsela in your classes, and how the ability to adapt vocabulary levels was an entry point for providing access to all of your learners.  I'm interested in your suggested topics on 'workplace trends' and 'local environmental/weather trends'.  Would tell us more about what you see from your perspective relating to your learners' needs around understanding media in these two areas?  

Best, 

Mike Cruse

michaelcruse74@gmail.com

Megan DeMott-Quigley's picture

Hi Mike,

Thanks for your response! In answer to your question, as I understand it, I found students were interested in learning about what the high need areas were going to be/are already for workers.  We looked at some really good PEW and census graphs and talked about skills that various jobs might need in the future.  We talked about what career preparation might/can look like.  As to environment and weather it was interesting to hear from students about local environmental and weather challenges in their countries of birth and it was also interesting to talk about the intersections between the environment and community development and planning in the areas of transportation for example.  As I write, these seem like such obvious things---sorry not to be able to offer greater insight.

Megan

Michael Cruse's picture
One hundred

Thanks for sharing more about your work, Megan.  I really like that you've incorporated PEW Research and Census Data into your work on career exploration.  I wonder if these are resources you found online?  If so, it would be great to see the links, and consider how they might be part of a conversation on media literacy education. 

The topic of weather is another area that I think has a lot of potential for discussing media literacy, especially around the language of climate change.   I really like that you've brought in weather as a topic that your learners can related back to their countries of birth.  This accesses their prior knowledge, and supports the idea of learners being the experts about a topic.  It's also something everyone can relate to, and is a great way to build relevant vocabulary.  Have others used weather and climate as topics to look at media literacy in their classes?

Best,

Mike Cruse

michaelcruse74@gmail.com   

J.Harris's picture
First

Mike,

Good morning. I would be curious to know if the differences between digital literacy and media literacy will be presented. 

Jamie Harris

Michael Cruse's picture
One hundred

Thank you, Jamie, for your question.  The short answer is yes, we will be talking about what media literacy is, and what it is not.  The terms media literacy and digital literacy are sometimes used interchangeably.  It's important to note that while they are related, they are different.  The focus of this discussion will be on what is media literacy, and how it can be included in adult education classrooms.

Best,

Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator

michaelcruse74@gmail.com

Nell Eckersley's picture
One hundred

At SXSW Edu over the last few years, Media Literacy has been a popular topic.  Danah Boyd gave a keynote in 2018 that continues to resonate and cause controversy.  Here's a link to her keynote: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0I7FVyQCjNg&list=PLeLlOkN8HqBgMLjryLfyfbir40bQl8Zz4&index=2&t=1472s.

best,

Nell Eckersley

Michael Cruse's picture
One hundred

Hi, Nell -

Thanks for sharing this video of Danah Boyd's keynote at SXSW Edu.  It's a real thought piece on the role of media in our collective culture, and the need for media literacy.  I encourage other members to take the time to watch it, especially if you're not quite sure what the term 'media literacy' means.   Danah pulls examples from contemporary media to illustrate her points, and at the 37:20 minute mark begins to address what educators can do to address the need for more media literacy education.   

What resonates with you?  Where do you see the greatest need for media literacy education in the field of adult education?  I hope you will take the time to listen, reflect, and share your thoughts with us.

Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator

michaelcruse74@gmail.com

David Reynolds's picture
First

Just this weekend an article from the University of Cambridge came to my attention about a game that has the player take on the role of a creator of fake news in order to influence people. I haven't had a chance to try it out with students yet but I am planning to do so.

Article - https://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/fake-news-vaccine-works-pre-bunk-game-reduces-susceptibility-to-disinformation

game  - https://getbadnews.com/#intro

 

You mentioned Civic Participation Media. One thing that is easy to neglect in any civics instruction is vocabulary.  Sometimes we take for granted that our students know where the terms liberal, conservative, moderate, republican, democrat, right wing, left wing, etc. fit on the political spectrum.  I do a lesson with political cartoons and have found that I get more participation/understanding when I spend some time first explaining these ideas essentially providing the language of the conversation.

Michael Cruse's picture
One hundred

Hi, David-

Thanks for your post drawing our attention to this article and game.  I'll be curious to hear how you incorporate the game into your teaching students.  If you can provide us with more context for your learners, and the course, that would be very helpful.

I appreciate what you've said about the need for vocabulary instruction around terms relevant to civic participation.  I agree vocabulary in context is key, even for native born learners who may have completed high school.  You describe, "providing the language of the conversation", which is a great way of explaining the groundwork for introducing political concepts, and modeling what terms mean for your learners.  If you're able to share more about the structure of your lesson using political cartoons, that would be fantastic to hear!

Best,

Mike Cruse

 

 

David Reynolds's picture
First

To start, I simply ask the class about any terms or words they think they know when hearing anything about politics.  I then draw a line and place words on it with how they equate. Think number line with 0 replaced by central and right wing to the right and left wing to the left.  I then place the various term where they land on that graph, including symbols like the donkey and elephant, and discuss what the terms mean in a general sense, i.e. liberal tends to push change and conservative tends to favor the status quo.

Once the language is set up we pull up some political cartoons.  I tend to pull from Gocomics.com directly from the web site on the smart board.  We begin with simply describing the image they see.  Once that is done we start picking apart what is being said - What is the issue? What does the artist/author thing about that issue?  Depending on the level of students present (my classes run open entry so my student levels track all over on any given day) we can then delve into some of the vocabulary - is the view presented liberal or conservative, etc.?  It also opens up a good discussion on bias by asking questions like do you think this author likes the president? followed up with the infamous teacher question, why? In an hour long session we can get through three or four cartoons.

Michael Cruse's picture
One hundred

Hi, David -

Thanks for responding with how you prepare your students to be able to engage in discussions about political cartoons.  Using the "number line", and including both words and symbols (donkeys and elephants) to represent the spectrum of liberal and conservative thinking is a simple, yet powerful tool to help put our political system into perspective.  It also seems very accessible for a spectrum of learners, which it sounds like you have in your classes.  I wonder if, and how, you set guidelines for your learners' discussions to encourage healthy political discourse with others who may have differing political views?  This is of course good teaching practice in general, but may require an extra reminder when wading into political cartoons and the resulting discussions around them.

Best,

Mike Cruse

 

David Reynolds's picture
First

"I wonder if, and how, you set guidelines for your learners' discussions to encourage healthy political discourse with others who may have differing political views?  This is of course good teaching practice in general, but may require an extra reminder when wading into political cartoons and the resulting discussions around them."

 

This is absolutely a consideration.  I have a couple of things helping me in this regard.  First, my classes are small.  This makes it easier to manage the discussion and moderate.  Second, I spend a lot of time during reading instruction in general asking for opinions so the students are already practicing class discussion skills.  Some times it's a simple pole question - "raise your hand if you think Biff will take the job" Other times it's a bit deeper - "Why do you think Sally jumped in the lake?"  The point being that if and when thornier issues pop up, norms are already in place for listening to and sharing views and opinions.  We aren't jumping straight in to the deep end of the pool.

Beyond that, when I do the terms introduction I stress that there is nothing inherently bad about being liberal or conservative and that our government works best when both forces are working together and balancing each other out.  I do this in an attempt to take out the sting of using such terms as an insult.  I also make sure to present a mix of artists/authors from both sides so that students get to see different views.  In order to accomplish this I do spent a good amount of planning time following various artists so that I have a good idea of what his or her general slant is.

During class I try to make the discussion itself more towards the clinical side.  Rather than ask "What do you think of this cartoon", I'll ask "What do you think the artist feels about this issue?" or "Do you think this author is conservative or liberal?"  Basically I focus on reading and understanding what the image is talking about, practicing the political terms, and steer away from right or wrong.

On the occasion where a discussion of an issue raised starts up I act as neutral moderator and act to make sure everybody gets a chance to voice their thoughts and nobody gets attacked.  

David J. Rosen's picture
One hundred

Hello Colleagues,

The Rand Corporation has published a new report (downloadable for free) called "Exploring Media Literacy Education as a Tool for Mitigating Truth Decay". I suggest that this be part of the discussion.  Here are a few highlights of the Media Literacy (ML) report:

  • Truth Decay — the diminishing role that facts, data, and analysis play in political and civil discourse — appears to result, in part, from an increasingly complex information ecosystem. Technology, in particular, offers continual access to information of varying quality and credibility, information that can blur the line between fact-based evidence and opinion. Not everyone is equipped with the skills necessary to navigate such uncertain terrain. The purpose of this report is to describe the field of media literacy (ML) education and the ways in which ML education can counter Truth Decay by changing how participants consume, create, and share information.
  • Central to ML is the notion that all media are constructed for a purpose and contain embedded biases or filters. ML education teaches participants to consider
    the implications of message construction from numerous angles, such as how the motivations of those disseminating information could influence content selection and framing and how different kinds of media and other technologies affect the nature of communication.
  • Some examples of ML competencies relevant to this specific application are the abilities to identify and access information needed to inform decisions and behaviors; evaluate the reliability and credibility of authors, sources, and information presented in varied forms and mediums; assess the processes used to create an informational product;synthesize information from multiple sources; and create and/or share media in a manner reflective of its credibility, with awareness of potential consequences. These competencies correspond most closely with fields of news and information literacy—disciplines at the intersection of civics, journalism, and library sciences—and do not include the full set of broader skills related to ML.
  • Interviewees emphasized a tension in balancing analytical questioning and skepticism with an interest in establishing and maintaining some level of trust in credible institutions. The danger is that the analytic questioning that is core to ML could be taught or learned in a way that crosses the boundary into cynicism, damaging trust even in credible sources of information. Experts in our sample believed this problem to be avoidable.
  • To be successful, ML education needs to be responsive to participants’ needs, backgrounds, and experiences, particularly in terms of the contexts in which ML is taught, the examples used, and the medium through which competencies are demonstrated and practiced. Experts emphasized that the most effective ML strategies are those that reach participants in a format and context with which they are familiar and comfortable.

In the report appendix the authors provide a free, downloadable spreadsheet database of Media Literacy offerings available to the public. Some of these could be useful to adult basic skills teachers . zip file

David J. Rosen

Bayo Adetunji's picture
First

David,

Thank you for sharing the Media Literacy Report. I would like to read it. I think it highlights some of the important reasons why digital literacy is vital. It is not enough to simply find and consume digital content as if it is value-free. The ability to critically evaluate and use digital content is important for adult learners.

Michael Cruse's picture
One hundred

Hi, Bayo -

Thanks for your first LINCS post!  The report gives a lot of information to think about in relation to media literacy and digital citizenship.  I'll be interested in hear your thoughts once you've had a chance to digest some of it.  I'm also interested in you're currently teaching adult learners to 'evaluate and use digital content'?  If so, would you share with us more what approach you're taking in your class?

I look forward to learning more with you.

Best,

Mike Cruse

michaelcruse74@gmail.com

Michael Cruse's picture
One hundred

This is an excellent resource, thanks for sharing it, David.  You mention the spreadsheet database of media literacy offerings in the appendix, which is a treasure trove of resources for learning about and teaching media literacy.  I agree, adult educators could benefit from investigating how to incorporate media literacy into their programs.  I have used the Newseum's Media Literacy Booster Pack, which provides free access to online learning, videos, and lesson plans that easily translate to a wide audience of learners.  

NewseumED - Media Literacy Booster Pack  -  https://newseumed.org/collection/media-literacy-booster-pack/

I am interested in hearing more about what others may have found useful, or are interested in trying in their programs.  Please feel free to share here, or email me directly.

Best,

Mike Cruse

michaelcruse74@gmail.com

David J. Rosen's picture
One hundred

Hello Mike and others,

My guess is that news media will be a main focus of this conversation. Perhaps there is a collection somewhere of actual news articles that we could review as part of this discussion. In any case, here's a link to one news article, "Raw Data: One-Third of Students Graduate From Community College," that might be of high interest for review by Career Pathways members, and their HSE or post-secondary preparation, or community college level students.

David J. Rosen

 

Michael Cruse's picture
One hundred

Thanks for sharing this suggestion and article, David. I’m curious to hear more about the type of article reviews that you’re envisioning. This piece is definitely relevant to many adult learners, educators, program managers, and industry partners.  At least one other member has suggested the topic of media literacy around workforce training, education and employment.  I’m open to hearing more ideas for what sub-topics members want to explore around career pathways, and ideas for the types of activities that would be most valuable for helping explore media literacy in adult education classes.

Best,

Mike Cruse

michaelcruse74@gmail.com

David J. Rosen's picture
One hundred

Hi Mike,

You wrote, "I’m curious to hear more about the type of article reviews that you’re envisioning. This piece is definitely relevant to many adult learners, educators, program managers, and industry partners."

Our choice of articles might begin, as you have suggested, with relevance. Articles about career pathways seem relevant to this group. I wonder what other kinds of articles those who plan to join this discussion might like to read and assess. 

The way to increase our own media literacy skills, as well as adult learners' media literacy skills, is to review articles that we want to read, that have high interest for us. We might assess them from the perspective, for example, of: the degree of confidence we can have in their purported facts and evidence, and our understanding of their point of view or bias. We may disagree about the thesis of an article or its point of view, but that should not be our focus in this discussion. We might also disagree about what makes the article credible, regardless of whether or not we agree with its thesis. Credibility should be our focus. Ultimately we are asking: is this an article I should take seriously, even if it challenges my current beliefs? If so, why? Are the facts and evidence credible? Are the sources credible? Is it based on well-recognized research? Are the arguments based on the trustworthy evidence or not?  We can also look at whether it's news or opinion, and what the author's point of view or bias might be. I am sure there are other criteria we should consider. What are they?

In a recent conversation about an article on evidence-based adult basic skills research, a researcher colleague commented that the article appeared to look at evidence to build its analysis, was not one that used evidence selectively to support a thesis. I thought that was a useful distinction that might also apply to media literacy: does the author start with the research, facts, evidence, or findings, or does s/he select the evidence to support an opinion?  I am not suggesting that editorials are "fake news" but that they are opinion, not news; well-argued opinions, of course, also need to be supported by good evidence

David J. Rosen

 

Michael Cruse's picture
One hundred

Thanks, David, for expanding on your idea.  I agree with what you've said, and think it would be a valuable format for us to use for an activity and/or panel discussion.  One of the keys for me in what you wrote was that the articles should be ones that members want to read.   To that end, I hope members will make suggestions about articles that they might use to model applying the lens of media literacy education in their classes.  These can be topics related to career pathways, or not.  The topic itself is open; the key is interest and relevance to members and their learners.

Best,

Mike Cruse

michaelcruse74@gmail.com

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