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A constructivist approach to media literacy education: The role of the library

Moody, Kim E. (2009) A constructivist approach to media literacy education: The role of the library. In Proceedings of the World Library and Information Congress : 75th IFLA General Conference and Assembly, IFLA, Milano Convention Centre, Milan.

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Abstract

An informed citizenry is essential to the effective functioning of democracy. In most modern liberal democracies, citizens have traditionally looked to the media as the primary source of information about socio-political matters. In our increasingly mediated world, it is critical that audiences be able to effectively and accurately use the media to meet their information needs. Media literacy, the ability to access, understand, evaluate and create media content is therefore a vital skill for a healthy democracy.

The past three decades have seen the rapid expansion of the information environment, particularly through Internet technologies. It is obvious that media usage patterns have changed dramatically as a result. Blogs and websites are now popular sources of news and information, and are for some sections of the population likely to be the first, and possibly only, information source accessed when information is required.

What are the implications for media literacy in such a diverse and changing information environment? The Alexandria Manifesto stresses the link between libraries, a well informed citizenry and effective governance, so how do these changes impact on libraries? This paper considers the role libraries can play in developing media literate communities, and explores the ways in which traditional media literacy training may be expanded to better equip citizens for new media technologies.

Drawing on original empirical research, this paper highlights a key shortcoming of existing media literacy approaches: that of overlooking the importance of needs identification as an initial step in media selection. Self-awareness of one’s actual information need is not automatic, as can be witnessed daily at reference desks in libraries the world over. Citizens very often do not know what it is that they need when it comes to information. Without this knowledge, selecting the most appropriate information source from the vast range available becomes an uncertain, possibly even random, enterprise. Incorporating reference interview-type training into media literacy education, whereby the individual will develop the skills to interrogate themselves regarding their underlying information needs, will enhance media literacy approaches. This increased focus on the needs of the individual will also push media literacy education into a more constructivist methodology.

The paper also stresses the importance of media literacy training for adults. Media literacy education received in school or even university cannot be expected to retain its relevance over time in our rapidly evolving information environment. Further, constructivist teaching approaches highlight the importance of context to the learning process, thus it may be more effective to offer media literacy education relating to news media use to adults, whilst school-based approaches focus on types of media more relevant to young people, such as entertainment media. Librarians are ideally placed to offer such community-based media literacy education for adults. They already understand, through their training and practice of the reference interview, how to identify underlying information needs. Further, libraries are placed within community contexts, where the everyday practice of media literacy occurs. The Alexandria Manifesto stresses the link between libraries, a well informed citizenry and effective governance. It is clear that libraries have a role to play in fostering media literacy within their communities.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 28628
Item Type: Conference Paper
Additional URLs:
Keywords: media literacy, information literacy, libraries, media scepticism
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA STUDIES (200100)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES (080000) > LIBRARY AND INFORMATION STUDIES (080700) > Human Information Behaviour (080703)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES (080000) > LIBRARY AND INFORMATION STUDIES (080700)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Current > Schools > Journalism, Media & Communication
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 [please consult the author]
Deposited On: 16 Nov 2009 10:29
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2010 00:09

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