Media Literacy Facilitation as Service Learning and Public Engagement

Media Literacy Facilitation as Service Learning and Public Engagement

Christine Olson (University of Massachusetts – Amherst, USA) and Erica Scharrer (University of Massachusetts – Amherst, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4059-5.ch007

Abstract

This chapter offers insights from a 15-year partnership between a public university and local K-12 schools to explore how the facilitation of media literacy education (MLE) programs by university students can offer rewarding outcomes for both research and learning. The MLE program that serves as the case study for this chapter takes place at local elementary schools each spring in conjunction with an undergraduate communication course and includes interactive media analysis discussions as well as a culminating creative production activity. Reflections and written feedback from participating graduate, undergraduate, and elementary students emphasize the strengths of this pedagogical model for collaboration and learning while also acknowledging the practical constraints of such a partnership. By detailing the institutional-level support, instructional design, and practical implementation of this MLE program, the chapter enumerates the benefits and challenges of engaged research and service learning for advancing media literacy goals.
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Background

A MLE service-learning initiative requires consideration of instructional design at multiple levels. Firstly, stakeholders must design a program that results in mutually beneficial outcomes for both the university and the K-12 participants. Secondly, the conceptualization of MLE must be made explicit so the curriculum design can foster such literacy. Together, the civic engagement and service-learning framework and the MLE approach provide the theoretical foundations and practical implementation strategies for the initiative’s design.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Public Engagement: The sharing of resources and knowledge between experts and non-experts on topics of collective concern.

Intellectual Community: A mutually recognized space of knowledge sharing.

Reflexivity: The process of considering the researcher’s own role in shaping the construction of knowledge.

Desensitization: The reduction of an emotional response to stimuli such as media violence due to overexposure.

Service-Learning: An educational experience in which course content is coupled with community-based activities for the mutual benefit of students and the community.

Pedagogy: The theory and practice of designing a learning experience.

Materialism: Valuing the acquisition of possessions above social, intellectual, and spiritual pursuits.

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