Monday, 17 November 2008

I’ve been reading a bit about (digital) media literacy and its impact in the promotion of a participatory society. I’m particularly interested in investigating what role of education (including e-learning) should play in this process. Some argue that youth become digitally literate just by interacting with popular culture. Others say pedagogical and policy interventions are needed so as to foster equal access to opportunities for expression using new media, a clear understanding of how media shape perceptions, and socialization that prepares them to act as a media makers and community participants.

I tend to go along with the second opinion not least because of a small survey I carried out with some teenagers (15-19 years-old) about their Internet uses. Among other findings, I discovered (was I really surprised?) that, despite their easy access to the Internet, the great majority of them spend 100% of their time online in one or all of these 3 activities: email/IM, chat and social networking sites. I’m talking here about middle-class Brazilian students whose parents have in their majority finished a university course.

Now, I’m not saying there is no gain in digital literacy in these activities, but I just wonder how much critical, reflective and creative thinking is required while updating one’s profile, or finding out about someone’s new date. I don’t want to sound prudish and I definitely don’t think young people should not do these things. What I’m questioning here, and as mentioned above, what interests me is to define the role of education in the process of developing young people’s media literacy skills. As apparently they’re not getting a lot of it from their main current internet activities, how can elearning help shape their future as active, participatory citizens? That’s not a rhetoric question; I’d really be interested in having other people’s opinions.


Hilary Primmer said...


I found your blog on digital literacy to be quite interesting. I teach a variety of computer related courses at the college level and tend to integrate various forms of technology into them. What initially surprised me when I starting teaching was the level of ‘technology illiteracy’ that existed. Even though individual students were able to use technology, its use was limited and geared almost exclusively towards social communication.

The idea of using various forms of technology to create virtual learning communities to share information and acquire new knowledge did not exist. Getting students to adopt this view of the role of technology in the learning arena is a challenge. It requires careful consideration to the design, development and administration of these tools in a learning environment.


Anamaria Camargo said...

Thank you, Hilary, for sharing your experience. Does any of your courses focus specifically on developing media producing and critical thinking skills? What pedagogical considerations do you take into account when designing these courses? Thanks again! I'll be following your blog too :)