The IUB Libraries Media Services can help you learn more about media literacy: what it is, why it is a critical skill set to develop, and direct you to strategies and resources for integrating media into your curriculum. To get help building a media assignment and/or learn how to incorporate media into the classroom, Monique Threatt, Head, Media Services, can help you meet your learning objectives.  Make an appointment with our professional staff, or contact Media Services for more information.

Transforming concepts of media literacy into pedagogical practice can be a major challenge. Media Services development has been inspired by three approaches to teaching media literacy highlighted in Douglas Kellner & Jeff Share's article, Critical Media Literacy is Not an Option (2007).

Approaches to Teaching Media Literacy

·       Media Arts Education Approach

·       Media Literacy Movement Approach

·       Critical Media Literacy Approach

Media Arts Education Approach

"students are taught to value the aesthetic qualities of media and the arts while using their creativity for self-expression through creating art and media..." (p. 61)

In the 21st century, it is vital that all individuals develop the understanding and capability of creatively expressing their ideas through multiple forms, including multimedia. Beyond the benefits of media composition and creative expression, the skill sets students develop through media production are marketable and increasingly being integrated into courses with a focus on professional development or applied discipline contexts.

Examples about media literacy education are becoming more visible on YouTube. For example, Vanessa Domine's "A Very Brief & Highly Autobiographical Approach to Media Literacy Education"  (refresh browser if unable to access the clip) is an excellent way to integrate this approach into your teaching and should be structured to align with articulated learning objectives.   For further guidance, there are several online teaching guides to help instructors design and implement a Digital Media Activity for the Classroom.  We suggest Penn State's Digital Commons:Instructor's Guide, as well as the Teaching Media website which provide techniques to integrate the use of social media networks. On the Teaching Media site, be sure to explore options available within "Teaching Resources."  These include assignments for Media Literacy and Media Examples for the Classroom.

Indiana University also has a fair amount of related campus media support services, such as:  University Information Technology Services, and Center for Innovative Teaching & Learning,  along with expertise guidance from instructors in the following departments of  Communication & Culture, Fine ArtsTelecommunications, and Theatre & Drama to support and develop student multimedia production assignments and projects.  Students will need to bring their own digital equipument for multimedia production assignments. The IUB Community also has access to numerous online streaming databases in support of multimedia class projects.

The IU Libraries encourages instructors and students to share their completed digital multimedia projects with us so that we may share them with the greater academic community.

Media Literacy Movement Approach

"[the media literacy movement] approach attempts to expand the notion of literacy to include popular culture and multiple forms of media (music, video, Internet, advertising, etc.) while still working within a print literacy tradition..." (p. 61)

The media literacy movement approach is characterized by a more general level of media literacy concepts and outcomes. Though some are critical of this approach this level of media literacy is appropriate in many courses. Fundamental media literacy skills are an important foundation for becoming a critical consumer of media. Students should, at minimum, understand how media is used within their discipline contexts (in all forms), how to access relevant media resources via IUCAT, how to analyze information in multiple forms and evaluate its authority.

As an instructor, you can encourage students to develop foundational media literacy skill sets by encouraging a diverse use of sources, challenging students to consider the information being conveyed regardless of form ("read" images, sound), and to always consider the authority of a source within course and discipline contexts.

This Youtube clip is one example of how to incorporate media literacy skills in a discussion about body image.

Critical Media Literacy Approach

"[critical media literacy] focuses on ideology critique and analyzing the politics of representation of crucial dimensions of gender, race, class, and sexuality; incorporating alternative media production; and expanding textual analysis to include issues of social context, control, resistance, and pleasure. A critical media literacy approach also expands literacy to include information literacy, technical literacy, multimodal literacy, and other attempts to broaden print literacy concepts to include different tools and modes of communicating..." (p. 62)

Media in all forms conveys information purposefully constructed from a specific perspective (bias) that stems from individual experience and context. Though certain disciplines have established understandings and methods of examining media through a critical media literacy lens, many do not but are nonetheless greatly influenced and impacted from both mass media and discipline specific representations. As mentioned earlier students should be expected to develop at least a foundational understanding of how media relates to their disciplines. However, we suggest that critical media literacy is particularly needed about specific issues, for example the debate of genetically modified food.

Instructors can aid in student development of critical media literacy skill sets by encouraging critical analysis of how discipline specific issues are represented in the field and mass media. For example, instructors can ask students to consider:

    Who is conveying this message?

    What incentive might they have to convey information from this perspective?

    What language and media (e.g., text, audio, video, graphics) are they using to describe this message?

    What audience is this message crafted for?

    How is the media and language displayed tapping into commonly held stereotypes or representations (e.g., the polar bear on the melting ice cap to represent global warming)?

    How are these points valid or in opposition to current research?

    What communication strategies and representations might the field take to refute misinformation?


Additional Media Literacy Materials:

Beach, R. (2006). A Resource Guide to Links and Activities. New York: Teachers College Press.  

Hobbs, R & Jensen, A. The Past, Present, and Future of Media Literacy Education of Media Literacy Education.

Kellner, D. & Share, J. (2007). Critical Media Literacy is Not an Option. In J.W. Hunsinger and J. Nolan (eds.). Learning Inquiry.   

Myers, J. & Beach, R. (2004). Constructing critical literacy practices through technology tools and inquiry. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education 4 (3). Available:  

Myers, J., & Beach, R. (2001). Hypermedia authoring as critical literacy. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 44(6), 538-46.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Reprinted and edited with permission from Scott Spicer, Media Outreach & Learning Spaces Librarian, University of Minnesota.