A New Climate for Professional Development in Media Literacy

There are many reasons why there has not been a widespread availability of professional development opportunities for either new or veteran teachers interested in media literacy.

The challenges to the dissemination of media literacy as an educational process in U.S. schools are formidable — a decentralized education system consisting of 16,000 autonomous school districts, little funding, a long tradition of content-based learning methods, and a lack of knowledgeable and professional trainers and the infrastructure organizations to support them. 

But the climate for U.S.-based professional development in media literacy is changing.

Although few U.S. colleges or universities have formal degree programs for teachers to learn the core concepts of media literacy at the pre-service level, summer institutes and other workshops are blossoming. Other promising developments include:

  • Media literacy connections to all curricular areas have been identified for state educational standards, and the Common Core State Standards Initiative recognizes the importance of multi-media in classroom teaching.  The door is now open for widespread professional development efforts to connect media literacy to what teachers are already mandated to teach in all areas of the curriculum.
  • Major foundations and policy organizations have explored and endorsed media literacy education; for example, the Aspen Institute Task Force on Learning and the Internet, and the MacArthur Foundation teamed up to research and issue a report called "Learner at the Center of a Networked World," which called for media and social/emotional literacies to be at the center of education.
  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued calls for information on media literacy, and media literacy has been recognized in other federal agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission, which launched a major initiative in advertising literacy.  The U.S. Dept. of Education held its first department-wide information session on media literacy in 2008, which CML participated in, and internationally, media literacy is increasingly recognized, with a media literacy unit now established with OfCom, a regulatory agency of the UK and in Australia, with the Australia Communications and Media Authority.
  • The first federal grants for demonstration projects linking media literacy, the arts and violence prevention were awarded by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Arts in 2000/2001. CML's Project SmartArt received one of the 17 grants provided by this first federal authorization.

A New Climate for Professional Development in Media Literacy
Preparing to Teach with a Media Literacy Focus
Media Literacy, Professional Development and Change Management