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From the 1980's media educators in New Zealand, without government sanction but with very strong collegial support, focused on helping students develop the skills to analyse and critique a rapidly proliferating mass media. As media production gear became affordable and accessible, students were able to make and critique their own work. Close reading of texts of all kinds and an understanding of audience and commercial imperatives were cornerstones of media education. 

The advent of the Internet has necessitated a whole new take on media literacies and it's a fascinating field.

A University of College London study released in January 2008 found that, while the young people studied were very adept at using the Internet, their critical and analytical skills, for example in assessing the relevance of the material they found, were poor.

Alan November suggests that one key skill young people need to develop is to find out the source of websites they access (see video below). With research finding that the majority of students say they use the Internet as their first source for research, he encourages parents to quiz their kids on the sources of the Internet sites they access and to encourage their children to cross reference and validate. To drive home his point he shows that the first site Google throws up when he types in Martin Luther King is owned by the white nationalist and neo_Nazi website Stormfront.

There are lots of great ideas out there for teaching media literacy skills. What are your ideas?

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Comment by Helen Martin on June 21, 2010 at 16:17
That's a very good point which will certainly be added to my media literacies toolkit. Thanks Diana.
Comment by Diana Ayling on June 21, 2010 at 14:00
Students value the exploration of the concepts of primary and secondary sources of data. There is no better primary source of data than their own eyes and ears. Using their observational skills students as researchers can identify a range of relevant information. Once written up this is a rich source.

However, once someone else accesses and used their data, a whole new situation arises. Ask students how they feel about others using, commenting on and communicating their data. This will encourage a good healthy discussion about primary and secondary sources, copyright, intellectual property, and academic freedom.

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