The Importance of Modern Media Literacy in Schools; Why Being Literate is Important for Both Students and Teacher
New Media Literacy in the Modern World
Would you be happy if you couldn't read? Have you ever considered why media literacy is important? Well, in the modern world, media literacy is becoming almost as important as reading or writing. Whether you work with technology or not, being able to use it, understand it and benefit from it is extremely important in the modern world. There are so many media options available now, that I couldn't list them all here. But, media and having a command of it has become an important skill to have for everyday life, not just for specialist jobs.
For this hub I am going to look at how new media literacy is extremely important for teachers and inspiring students that are required to be more and more wired in to the world around them than ever before, which makes teaching media literacy more important than ever. Even in a small town now, you are not dealing with secluded students that don't know what is available, they are on the web, interconnected, and finding out what the entire world has to offer!
English teachers, but more specifically ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers, can benefit hugely from modern forms of media.
The is no need for listen and repeat and textbook only classes. Media can help to bring the real world into the classroom and the students out of their shells. With the internet, almost all forms of media you can imagine are instantly available, well, OK maybe not instantly ... but only as long as it takes to download/buffer what you want. Compared to having to go to the shops, finding specialist centers and struggling to find relevant resources, teachers today are blessed with having an amazing amount of tools at their fingertips. That is, so long as they are media literate.
Media literate as a teacher does not just mean knowing how to use PowerPoint or how to play an online game. When you are a teacher, this is not enough in itself. You need to be able to integrate the different types of media into an interesting interconnected lesson, using the media to engage and challenge the students, not just to show them the information or entertain them.
This means moving away from the textbook only approach and bring the subject matter into the classroom. Engaging the students and getting them to actively use the information you are teaching is imperative to increasing understanding and long term retention of the knowledge. As a TEFL teacher, this can be as simple as playing a ppt or online game, but instead of allowing them to only say the basic vocabulary, getting them to engage in phrasal usage or mini conversations (prepped before the game of course). The game is the inspiration, the usage of the language in order to win drums the knowledge into their memories and helps them understand how it is used in real life. Try it, it is amazing what they can learn in order to WIN! lol
Another advantage of using media in the classroom, is that children need to be able to understand it too. Some families can't afford to have the latest technology around, but in today's world it is important that children are also media literate as well as being literate. By using media in the classroom, you are also helping to increase the students' understandings of different media types.
Some great ways of doing this is to set media projects, where students have to research a problem/fact, produce a presentation and present it to the class. This helps to not only encourage research skills, but at an older age can lead to considering the sources of information and what people intended to use/get out of presenting that information. Understanding how commercials, the local news, international news, debates, TV soap operas, movies and other forms of media all 'twist' the truth is extremely important. All too many people believe what they see, but in today's commercial world, that needs to change and people need to consider both the source and the motive. By understanding hidden messages, morals, and a source's intentions ... suddenly everything around that student can become a source of education.
Unfortunately the downside is teachers that rely on new media to entertain and don't really know how to use it. Many teachers I have seen just playing pointless games, putting on movies, or handing out puzzles ... without a clear integrated plan of what should be learned. When using new media as a teacher, it is important to ask yourself 'Why am I using it?", "What is the benefit?", and "Is there a better way to present this?". The use of new media also doesn't need to mean that traditional approaches should be dropped. Text books, especially when combined with new media, act as great learning tools. The act of understanding and transferring that knowledge into answers and the written word is an extremely important part of the learning process too.
Students still need to be able to read and write clearly, they need to understand simple mathematics (without a calculator), and to be able to talk about their feelings and experiences in a clear and coherent way. New media is very important to improving education, but should not become a substitute, merely an expansion of knowledge into other senses and processes of learning.
Do you use media to educate your children/students? Or do you feel that traditional books are best?
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