What does media literacy mean?

According to the seminal 1992 Aspen Media Literacy Conference, media literacy is:

 "the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and create [or communicate with] media in a variety of forms." 

Sounds simple, eh?  Nothing ever is.  The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) offers perhaps a more helpful broader statement.

Media literacy-- the ability to ACCESS, ANALYZE, EVALUATE, and COMMUNICATE information in a variety of forms-is interdisciplinary by nature. Media literacy represents a necessary, inevitable, and realistic response to the complex, ever-changing electronic environment and communication cornucopia that surround us.

To become a successful student, responsible citizen, productive worker, or competent and conscientious consumer, individuals need to develop expertise with the increasingly sophisticated information and entertainment media that address us on a multi-sensory level, affecting the way we think, feel, and behave.

Today's information and entertainment technologies communicate to us through a powerful combination of words, images, and sounds. As such, we need to develop a wider set of literacy skills helping us to both comprehend the messages we receive and effectively utilize these tools to design and distribute our own messages. Being literate in a media age requires critical thinking skills that empower us as we make decisions, whether in the classroom, the living room, the workplace, the boardroom, or the voting booth.

Finally, while media literacy does raise critical questions about the impact of media and technology, it is not an anti-media movement. Rather, it represents a coalition of concerned individuals and organizations, including educators, faith-based groups, health care-providers, and citizen and consumer groups, who seek a more enlightened way of understanding our media environment.

So how do people become media literate? 

Well, learning how to critically interpret and produce multimodal messages are key.  This site will provide some resources on how to critically interpret media, why it is helpful to integrate multimedia into curriculum, as well as resources for student-produced media here on the UMN campus.

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