New University of Canberra Media Literacy short course launched

Apr 21, 2022 | Blog

ALIA House hosted a brilliant media literacy webinar on Tuesday 12 April with Dr Barbara Walsh and Dr Sora Park (University of Canberra), Dr Barbara Lemon (NSLA) and Trish Hepworth, ALIA Director of Policy and Education with questions moderated by Dr Phoebe Weston Evans (ALIA) and Aimee Said (NSLA). Over 100 people tuned in to the session from across Australia, and a few people even joined from South America and India!

First up, Dr Barbara Lemon, NSLA Executive Officer talked about the Australian Media Literacy Alliance (AMLA), of which ALIA and NSLA are members, along with a number of museums, archives, public broadcasters, school and universities, all of which are playing a major role in shaping public understanding of media literacy.

While libraries have long been ‘doing’ media literacy, more recently we have been grappling with an increasingly complex and problematic media environment with fake news, misinformation, opaque algorithms and growing difficulty identifying reliable information sources.

AMLA is aiming to pitch a national strategy to promote media literacy and to tackle the intractable and growing problem. The proposal has received government support, and founded on national consultation, AMLA has produced a research report to articulate the strategy’s direction.

Barbara stressed that because many members of the general public are not necessarily aware or concerned by their own level of media literacy, it is therefore up to LIS professionals to take on responsibility to embed media literacy training and support into the services and programs we created and deliver.

Second up, Sora gave a presentation on media literacy and misinformation, highlighting the urgency of addressing media literacy levels in Australia and across the world especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine misinformation, the 2021 Capitol riot, and the very real impacts on health, wellbeing and society.

The Adult Media Literacy in Australia: Attitudes, Experiences and Needs (2021) report states that, alarmingly, 61% of Australians don’t feel confident they can take steps to identify misinformation and just over three quarters of adult Australians are unfamiliar with the term ‘media literacy’.

One thing that makes media literacy incredibly difficult to elevate across society is that it is a lifelong skill; it has to be continually updated and refreshed, it can’t be taught once at school and then forgotten about. And this is where the role of libraries and LIS professionals really comes in, providing lifelong learning opportunities and support for different communities, and acting as intermediaries and access points to formal and informal learning.

Sora shared some of the fascinating results from the survey conducted by the University of Canberra team into what LIS professionals think about media literacy and their role in educating the public.

Respondents to the survey reported that the most common activities that library patrons asked for help with included finding information online, general internet use, and using digital devices. Around three quarters of respondents stated that schools (secondary and senior) and public libraries are responsible for providing media literacy education, whereas the Adult Media Literacy report found that only 22% of Australians felt they had received this kind of training at school. 

Dr Barbara Walsh then talked us through the upcoming Media Literacy for LIS Professionals short course at the University of Canberra, starting 2 May and running through to 17 June, which is now fully booked out. The course was developed in response to the UC survey and is tailored to the kinds of concerns, requirements and skills needed by LIS professionals, or people working in related roles such as within schools or community organisations, in providing media literacy education and support in our current world.

The course is structured into seven units featuring interactive videos, asynchronous group discussions, research and written tasks. It explores definitions of media literacy, news and media bias, misinformation and factchecking, advertising and personal data, digital citizenship and staying safe online. The self-paced short course is designed to support people to collate and refine their own package of educational resources to use in their role going forward. These resource suites can be used to educate, train and support communities in developing critical thinking skills, lateral reading and a sense of confidence to explore the incredibly fast-changing media landscape. Educators will guide students through practical examples, media literacy organisations and resources, helping to handpick the most appropriate and relevant.

The session wrapped up with a really lively and practical discussion about general and specific resources, concerns, and questions about the survey results and the upcoming short course. We discussed definitions, scams, the ways to tackle interlinked literacy issues, for example media literacy in combination with low functional literacy, responsibilities of individuals versus those of institutions, and algorithmic literacy.

Key details:
The first intake of the course in May is now fully booked but there will be another intake later in 2022. Please register your interest or request more information at: ucmedialiteracy@canberra.edu.au

ALIA Members: AUD$495 / Non-ALIA Members: AUD$595

 

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