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Helping Students Be Wise Consumers of Media

by Tom Hanlon with Holly Rushakoff, College of Media / Aug 8, 2022

Twenty one Illinois public school teachers learn about media literacy

These teachers attended the IMEDIA media literacy workshop held this summer at the Siebel Center for Design on campus.

Twenty-one Illinois public school educators learned how to incorporate media literacy into their curricula this summer through an IMEDIA media literacy workshop on campus, hosted by faculty from the College of Education and College of Media.

“Media literacy is especially important in light of the last presidential election and the amount of disinformation and misinformation that is pervasive in the U.S.,” said Professor Sarah McCarthey, head of the Department of Curriculum & Instruction in the College of Education. “It’s more and more critical that we equip students with the ability to discern what’s factual from what’s not.”

The workshop, attended by librarians and teachers from language arts, social studies, special education, and art, was developed by the College of Media and the College of Education. 

The two colleges recently jointly launched a program entitled “Initiative for Media Education Inquiry and Action (IMEDIA),” along with the cofounder of the Illinois Media Literacy Coalition, Michael Spikes of Northwestern University.

The workshop was designed to better equip teachers and students with media literacy skills to encourage mindful media consumption and production and to help teachers meet the needs of a state mandate requiring public high schools to teach media literacy beginning with the 2022-23 school year. 

“Many of us in the College of Media have been working on media literacy-related research and teaching in the last several years,” said Professor Stephanie Craft, head of the Department of Journalism. “When we heard about the new law, we wanted to be able to turn that work into action. Teaming up with curriculum and instruction experts in the College of Education seemed an ideal way to do that."

The IMEDIA team introduced participants to key concepts in the framework for media literacy, with a focus on news media literacy. Educators were:

  • shown how to help students identify propaganda and see how the media have been used for social and political change throughout history,
  • instructed in how to use documentaries to increase media literacy, and
  • taught by a local Urbana High School student and undergraduate students from the College of Media how students are both creators and consumers of social media content.

The IMEDIA collaboration is working to build a robust critical media literacy curriculum in Illinois schools. Interested teachers will continue working with IMEDIA for follow up on media literacy implementation throughout the 2022-23 school year.

“Preparing Illinois students to successfully navigate an increasingly complex media environment is vital to their well-being and ability to participate in democratic life,” Craft said.

“The end goal is quite simple,” McCarthey added. “We want all of our students to be prepared to be critical media consumers.”

Learn more about IMEDIA...