Media Literacy Education Approaches

                  People cannot be expected to retain all the knowledge gained from media literacy training in high school or college.  It is possible that school-based media literacy education is less effective than adult approaches.  Adults need to be able to retain the information they learn from media literacy courses and this is nearly impossible in today’s society.  It is difficult for people to apply the knowledge they learned from a few media literacy courses that they took either in high school or college.  Adults need to be constantly learning about the media and their messages.  Organizations have recognized this need and have developed approaches to further educate people about the media (Moody, 2009). 

                The Center for Media Literacy developed a media literacy kit, which can be used to educate people at any age (Thoman & Jolls, 2004).  The kit defines media literacy as “providing a framework to access, analyse, evaluate, create, and partipate using messages in a variety of forms” (Jolls & Thoman, 2008, p. 42).  It provides a framework in the form of questions for either the deconstruction or construction of media products:

Deconstruction: Five Key Questions Construction: Five Key Questions
1. Who created this message? 1. What am I authoring?
2. What creative techniques are used to attract my attention? 2. Does my message reflect understanding in format, creativity and technology?
3. How might different people understand this message differently from me? 3. Is my message engaging and compelling for my target audience?
4. What lifestyles, values and points of view are represented in – or omitted from – this message? 4. Have I clearly and consistently framed values, lifestyles and points of view in my content?
5. Why is this message being sent? 5. Have I communicated my purpose effectively?

               (Jolls & Thoman, 2008, p. 47)

              These questions guide people towards a deep understanding of media products.  When given the right tools, students will be able to form answers that might be unique.  This approach motivates people to create their own meaning.  To evaluate media, people need to be aware of what their preferences are when they are taking on the role of an audience member (Moody, 2009).  

              People have different preferences when it comes to the media.  Not all people seek “good quality” media.  Sometimes, people are satisfied with media that is low quality.  It might be useful to describe media in terms of being appropriate or inappropriate for a particular need (Moody, 2009).

                The Pori Adult Education Centre in Finland provided a list of media literacy program components and addressed what aspect of media literacy it teaches (Vallemaa & Engblom, 2007).  The list shown below revealed an attempt to address each aspect of media literacy:

Program component Media literacy aspect addressed
Computer skills, including Net navigation Access
Reading skills Access, understand
Critical reading, including critical reading of the media Understand, evaluate


(Moody, 2009; Vallemaa & Engblom, 2007)


Moody, K. (2009).  A constructivist approach to media literacy education: the role of the library. World Library and Information Congress. 

Thoman, E., & Jolls, T. (2004). Media literacy – A national priority for a changing world. American Behavioral Scientist, 48, 18-29.

Vallemaa, L., & Engblom, N. (2007). Media literacy for adult learners. Paper presented at the iLearning Forum 2007, Paris.

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