Lesson 1: Defining Media and Media Literacy

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Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this lesson, participants of this course will be able to define media and media literacy.

Activity 1: Brainstorming Media

What is the definition of Media?

Media, in a broad sense, encompasses the main means of mass communication. As you can see, media has a relatively simple definition, but the types of media are endless. Take a minute to grab a piece of scrap paper or open a word processor. Spend about 3 minutes to make a list of as many types of media as you can. After you are finished, compare your list with this list.

Lecture: What is Media Literacy?

What is media literacy?

You should understand the the definition of media at this point and know the various forms of media. You will now move onto understanding media literacy. Media Literacy was first defined by the members of the Aspen Media Literacy Leadership Institute in 1992. The Center for Media Literacy have since created a more thorough definition. Their definition is:

"Media Literacy is a 21st century approach to education. It provides a framework to access, analyze, evaluate, create and participate with messages in a variety of forms — from print to video to the Internet. Media literacy builds an understanding of the role of media in society as well as essential skills of inquiry and self-expression necessary for citizens of a democracy."

To get an even better understanding of media literacy, please watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5m6grhWShNY

In the next lesson, you will begin the process of learning a process called the decoding process of media. The decoding process is used in a classroom setting where students will access, analyze, evaluate, create, and participate in discovering media messages appropriate for a social studies class. The decoding process of media will be discussed more in-depth in the next lesson. Before learning about the decoding process, you need a better understanding of what types of media would be best suited for students in a social studies class to be able to discover the meaning of.

Here are a few good examples of media that is suited for a social studies class:

  • Political cartoons
  • Propaganda
  • Paintings of historical events
  • Sculptures
  • Documentaries
  • Photos

Lesson Wrap-up

Now that you know the definition of media, can identify various forms of media, and have an understanding of what media literacy is, you will proceed to the next lesson. You will learn more about the decoding process of media, you will see how it is used in a classroom setting, and develop your own classroom activity using this process.

Proceed to Lesson 2: The Media Literacy Education Decoding Process


"Media Literacy: A Definition and More." medialit.org. Center for Media Literacy. December 10, 2013

Rogow, Faith & Scheibe, Cyndy (2012). "A Teacher's Guide to Media Literacy: Critical Thinking in a Multimedia World." Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin, a Sage Company