What is Media Education?
Media education is the process through which individuals become media literate – able to critically understand the nature, techniques and impacts of media messages and productions.
In Canadian schools, there is a growing awareness of the need to connect classroom learning to the real world and to bring media content into the classroom for analysis, evaluation and discovery.
Media education acknowledges and builds on the positive, creative and pleasurable dimensions of popular culture. It incorporates production of media texts and critical thinking – decoding, analyzing, synthesizing and evaluating media – to help us navigate through an increasingly complex media landscape. That landscape includes not only traditional and digital media, but also popular culture texts such as toys, fads, fashion, shopping malls and theme parks.
Media education encourages an approach that is always probing, posing questions such as: Who is the audience of a media production and why? From whose perspective is a story being told? How do the unique elements and codes of a specific genre affect what we see, hear or read? How might different audiences interpret the same media production?
In the digital age, the principles of media education are the same as they’ve always been, but the existence of cyberspace is adding new and challenging questions. How, for instance, does technology affect how we relate to others? Is new technology enriching or undermining culture, learning and a sense of community? What roles do ownership, control and access play? What are the challenges in regulating a global, borderless medium like the Internet?