Teaching Media and Information Literacy in the 21st Century

Teaching Media and Information Literacy in the 21st Century

Sarah Gretter (Michigan State University, USA) and Aman Yadav (Michigan State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7659-4.ch007


In our hyper-connected era, individuals are constantly exposed to images and information that shape our digital culture. Possessing the competencies to understand how information is conveyed in our daily lives can therefore empower citizens to recognize its functions and effects on human communication. This chapter looks at the importance of media and information literacy for individuals in the 21st century. It provides a brief history of the concept, as well as a detailed exploration of the competencies that compose it. It also refers to the role that educators play in its instruction and concludes with recommendations for teachers to start embedding MIL principles in their teaching.
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What does it mean to be literate in the 21st century? While literacy has traditionally been contained to reading and writing skills, communication in the 21st century has expanded these customary views of literacy into an ever-evolving concept (Hobbs & Jensen, 2009). In today’s world, unfiltered information is available across multiple media platforms, such as television or newspapers, but more particularly on the Internet. Because media and other information providers are instrumental in shaping the perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes of individuals in today’s digital age (Guzzetti & Lesley, 2015), being literate in today’s society therefore includes being able to read, write, and communicate across a range of platforms, tools, and media. As a result, individuals need to master an array of literacy skills beyond basic reading and writing abilities (Livingstone et al., 2014). Citizens who are not aware of how media and information systems function are more likely to accept media messages as facts, while individuals who possess media and information literacy skills are able to evaluate and draw their own conclusion from the constant flow of mediated information (Potter, 2004).

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