This post originally appeared on JEADigitalMedia.org on June 21, 2022. It is being posted here for posterity.
Educators looking for professional development opportunities to build their skills during the summer have another option to consider.
There are three courses being offered, and they cover areas of media message analysis, using video in learning, and incorporating student media projects.
The online courses, which are self-paced, can be taken in any order, though the media message analysis course is presented as the first in the series. It is titled, “Analyzing Media Messages: Bias, Motivation and Production Choices.”
As Haje Jan Kamps reported for TechCrunch, “Completing the course results in a PBS Media Literacy Educator micro-credential, which is a step toward getting the full Media Literacy Educator Certification, which is a set of eight micro-credentials spanning a range of media creation and analysis topics.”
To understand what the courses looked like, I signed up and completed the “Analyzing Media Messages” offering.
For the most part, the course consisted of reading provided information and watching a video or two.
Then, besides a couple of response posts that mimicked a discussion board without requiring comments on what others had posted, there were two assignments I had to complete to work toward my certification.
These assignments weren’t hard. They just take a little bit of time, and it can be hard to force yourself to sit down and work during the summer months when you might have other activities you would prefer to do.
It’s worth it, though.
The information it provides, which includes links to examples and resources such as Stanford’s Civic Online Reasoning, is super handy. Any of it can easily be incorporated into your class. Also, when it comes to the assignments, you get some feedback from the course instructor.
Furthermore, by completing the assignments, you walk away with a ready-to-use lesson plan, so you get to become more informed and produce something that can directly benefit you and your students in the future. That’s a win-win. It kills two birds with one stone.
Perhaps more importantly, though, is that such a course highlights the importance of incorporating media literacy into the curriculum.
Thanks to politicians, the term “fake news” gets thrown around a lot. This has led to mistrust in journalism, which can be harmful to democracy. The situation grows more dire thanks to social media and the ease of sharing false or misleading information, which research suggests might be related to education levels in many cases.
To combat this, some journalistic practices have changed to incorporate more transparency, and audiences have suggested demonstrating less bias would be a good step toward media outlets regaining trust. Relational journalism could help too, as could public service media. Furthermore, technology has the potential to assist in stemming the flow of misinformation and disinformation.
However, trust in journalism and combating the spread of misinformation and disinformation can start in the classroom.
That’s where media literacy comes into play.
Though much to my personal joy, parody and satire programming, like “The Simpsons,” can be useful in teaching media literacy, targeted curricula focused on the changing media landscape provide the best opportunity for positive impact, especially in terms of democracy and the current landscape of political polarization.
Of course, to effectively teach the vital skills of media literacy, educators might need some training.
If you’re in that camp, consider the KQED offerings. Just visit the following address: https://teach.kqed.org/