Media literacies in transition? A review of practices within higher education contexts

Alevizou, P. (2010). Media literacies in transition? A review of practices within higher education contexts. In: Media Literacy Conference, 19-20 Nov 2010, Institute of Education, London.



Several scholars have addressed the centrality of media and internet literacy within what is commonly known as participatory media culture (e.g. Jenkins, 2006). For some, integration of social media within tertiary and post-tertiary curricula promises an unprecedented pedagogical potential, particulary focusing on peer-to-peer learning, cultural agency and digital creativity skills. Engagement with social media in an educational context, is influenced by several factors, including cultural perceptions regarding ‘learning’ and ‘information’, 'informal' and 'accredited'; perceptions regarding the value of resources and evaluation of information, but also competences involving critical reflection and communicative or negotiation skills (Livingstone, 2008; Metzer and Flanagin, 2008; Rieh and Hilligoss, 2008). Also important are the tensions associated with the blurring boundaries between production and use, ownership and authorship, expert authority and amateur creativity, openness and completeness, as well as formal and informal learning (e.g. James et al, 2008; McPherson, 2008). As educational instituions turn from transmission to more dialogic models in the production of learning materials, the discussion of media literacy can be further contextualised.

Based on an extensive review of the evidence-based literature on the pedagogical uses of social media in higher education in four OECD countries, and an empirical investigation of volunteer 'learner-students' and 'learner-teachers' interacting in two non-formal, open educational contexts, the paper offers a workable typology of literacies focusing on: a) social and situated practices (including meaning making and situated cognition); b) technological and media literacies in creating, interpretting and reusing materials (including multimodal skills, information and critical literacy); c) and scaffolded and metacognitive literacies (including the pedagogies associated with mediated learning). It argues that while the discussion of media literacy is well situated within discourses and practices on life-long and self-directed learning, novel tensions surrounding the boundaries of self-representation, credit and expertise in digital spaces, make the implementation of learning literacies for the digital age more complex

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