Feature

The Importance of Media Literacy

Pail Taillefer

Media exert a powerful influence on youth. The media messages kids absorb help to shape their perceptions of what is normal and important, cool and fun, or scary and unappealing. Teachers are enthusiastic about helping students become media savvy and they are open to new strategies, skills, and ideas to accomplish this goal. Our provincial, territorial, and federal governments can play a key role in ensuring that media education is taught in classrooms, by providing program funding, supporting curriculum development, and creating policies that recognize and prioritize a student-centred learning process like media education. Seven years ago, CTF and the Media Awareness Network partnered to hold the annual Media Literacy Week (MLW). Our goal was to build national awareness about the importance of media education in Canada. Since then more than 60 collaborators and sponsors have added their support – including many CTF member organizations: ETFO, the Association des enseignantes, et des enseignants franco-ontariens, the Manitoba Teachers’ Society, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association, the Alberta Teachers Association, the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, and the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants du Nouveau Brunswick. In the past seven years, the growth of social media has been nothing short of phenomenal, giving rise to a wide range of networking sites such as Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, LinkedIn, Flickr and Google+. This is why we decided to make “Digital Citizenship” the theme of this year’s Media Literacy Week and to call on Canadians to encourage young people to think about their rights and responsibilities as they navigate the digital world. CTF offered subsidies through our Imagineaction program to support teachers who wanted to help their students become active and responsible citizens in an increasingly complex world. I was very proud to join ETFO members at the Trillium Elementary School in Orleans on November 7 for the official launch of Media Literacy Week. Short animated videos about character building and digital citizenship produced by grade 3 and grade 6 students were presented to the school, school board representatives, and their federal MP. CTF’s efforts to promote responsible behaviour online include education about cyber-bullying. Responding to a growing number of incidents of cyber-bullying toward teachers and students, CTF produced the brochure “Cybertips for Teachers.” The brochure, which urges teachers to be professional and prudent while online, has turned out to be extremely popular – nearly 110,000 have been distributed across Canada. CTF has now updated the brochure to include social media content. We know that social networking sites can be tremendously beneficial in teachers’ professional learning but they can also present pitfalls. As educators, we have a professional image to uphold; our conduct online is no exception. The revised brochure provides practical tips so that teachers can take advantage of the educational benefits provided by social networking sites without putting at risk the safety of any student or member of the school community. For more information, contact us at info@ctf-fce.ca I want to take this opportunity to wish you and yours all the very best in this Holiday Season

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