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The Importance of Modern Media Literacy in Schools; Why Being Literate is Important for Both Students and Teacher

Updated on August 08, 2014

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

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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    • expatseek profile image

      expatseek 4 years ago

      Great article and really interesting insights.

    • dwachira profile image

      [ Danson Wachira ] 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Hi Brett.Tesol,

      It will be a great disadvantage to any teacher today not to have knowledge and skills in Modern Media Literacy. The world is moving fast and so the education. Great write up and useful too. Voted up and shared with followers.

    • expatseek profile image

      expatseek 4 years ago

      Media literacy is an extremely important and often overlooked tool that is only becoming increasingly necessary in today's 24-hour news cycle world.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 4 years ago from Thailand

      Thanks. I agree completely, as the world progresses, the need for new generations to understand media and its intentions grow too.

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • Julie-Ann Amos profile image

      Julie-Ann Amos 4 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

      Really useful hub - thanks for this!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      This hub gets more important in education as time goes on.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      This is such a great hub. Yes, I did include media, not only how to use a computer, but how to assess information sources, agendas, slants, etc., in my daughter's curriculum. In fact I have written a couple of hubs, one on the difference between fact and opinion, and another on judging information sources.

      It is so important to teach young people these skills and I'm glad to see you are encouraging that too.

      Voted you up, interesting, useful, etc., and will share.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand


      This is a very useful hub and I'm glad I finally discovered it today. Yes, it is important for all teachers do know and understand how to use the latest media to make their lessons more interesting and challenging to students. My school in Thailand is using a new set of materials for grades 1-6. It is called the Discovery Island series published by Pearson Education and it comes with an online program which is very student friendly, interesting, and educational. interest in our English courses is at an all time high, because students are really engaging with the text and on-line materials. Voted up and sharing.

    • joanveronica profile image

      Joan Veronica Robertson 4 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi, wonderful article! I can appreciate it from a teacher's point of, been teaching for 56 years! Voted up, useful and interesting. Also shared, because you shared another Hubber's article. To FB,Twitter, HP, Stumble and Digg. Have a good day!

    • molometer profile image

      molometer 5 years ago

      This is very sensible advice. Teachers must be savvy with the latest kit. Usually the kids have the most up to date devices and know where the 'new trend' is happening in social media. As in many things, we can learn a lot from listening to our students and incorporating their experiences into our new lesson plans. Very timely hub Brett well done and SHARING

    • John Sarkis profile image

      John Sarkis 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Excellent hub Brett. I'm not a teacher myself by any stretch of the imagination. This program sounds really good and helpful for students new to the English language. My personal theory is to read the works of great philosophers---English philosophers at that, because, no translation is necessary. I love French and German philosophers (not more than English philosophers though....), but it's better when no translation is needed.

      Take care and voted up on your wonderful hub


    • peoplepower73 profile image

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      I developed online training courses for Toshiba's dealer technicians so they could install, program and maintain business telephone systems. In my last year it resulted in issuing 13,000 certifications. So I'm a huge proponent of media literacy. Isaac Asimov, a famous science fiction writer and visionary, said that the learning process is best served when one can learn what they are interested in and that will motivate them to continue learning other things. He said that before there even was an internet.

      Geez, this is getting long. I could write a hub about this. Your article has really stimulated my juices. Great article. Not only do you write great articles, but you also help other hubbers. Votes up!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Bravo! Teacher literacy has to come before student literacy. I also like that you mention the fact that not all homes have up-to-date technology. Just because a student can text or play games on the computer doesn't mean they are media or even technology literate. Voted up. Thanks for SHARING.

    • cebutouristspot profile image

      cebutouristspot 5 years ago from Cebu

      Now a days I believe it is one of the most important way to learn. Thanks for sharing

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      Hi Alocsin,

      Keeping students engaged is a big benefit and it is important that they learn how to use this technology for more than games too.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I think it's especially important to use multimedia with the Internet/video generation, if only because they'll find the textbook approach boring. Voting this Up and Interesting. Thanks for SHARING.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      Hi Zainnisar,

      Thanks for confirming my opinion on this. Hope to see your hubs back online soon! Thanks for SHARING it.

    • Zainnisar profile image

      Zainnisar 5 years ago from Little Island, Heart.

      I myself is a student of English as foreign language and sometimes find it hard to express my emotions and feeling in English but internet is always come handy to find answers quickly and helped improve my vocabulary as well. Teachers do lack use of technology my teacher of English don't have an email address, never touched a computer. So technology is important but educators around the globe are little slow to understand how it benefit them. Thanks for SHARING.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      Hi Snurre,

      Thanks for commenting. I agree, media makes the classroom more diverse and interesting. You can twist subjects to involve student interests and really draw them in!

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      Hi mackyi,

      You make a good point. I had not considered the family aspect, but you are right, many parents are not up-to-date on the latest technology. I also think books should be used, but will tablets becoming cheaper and longer lasting, I can see them being replaced in the near future.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      Hi Cair,

      Ah, true about the tablets and kindles. It would be a shame though if they did away with text books ... however, on a plus side ... it would save a lot of trees!

    • Snurre profile image

      Snurre 5 years ago

      I love using media when teaching English and even more when teaching music. There is just so much more you can do! Voted up & useful.

    • mackyi profile image

      I.W. McFarlane 5 years ago from Philadelphia

      Many people globally are technologically naïve, as a result they may find themselves struggling to learn via the media method. Also,we have to take in consideration the many parents that often help their children with their studies. If these parents do not have basic computer skills, it does no good for the students. I suggest,use both methods -- media and the traditional text books!

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      Hi Missolive,

      Thanks for your comment. The additional sensory stimulation definitely works wonders for holding their attention and inspiring interaction.

    • cair profile image

      cair 5 years ago from London

      Very interesting read. I feel audio/visual stimulation as a means of teaching is the only form of viable teaching nowadays - as much as I hate to admit it, print has definitely gone the way of the dodo. Tablets are the new books.

    • missolive profile image

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 5 years ago from Texas

      Media! I use technology as much as possible. All of my students - especially my ESL and struggling readers benefit from the imagery and sensory details which media provides. Visualization is extremely important - especially in today's technology based world.

      Nice hub - thank you for writing

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