Concepts and Methodologies
When looking at the intersections between communication, education and media that professors, researchers or policymakers work on, one will find a variety of terms: media education, media literacy, educommunication, digital literacy, communication and/or media pedagogy, information and media literacy, etc.
Such terms often need to be culturally contextualised since they derive from paths and traditions that at certain moments emphasised different aspects: in some cases the media, in others communication; the training processes or their results were the focus of others, while technologies were emphasised in some cases, with media content and effects being the focus of others still.
Generally speaking, it can be said that media education may include, but is not confined to, the use of media and technologies in education. It is, above all, about acquiring the knowledge and skills to access and critically analyse the different media and to take advantage of them to communicate in a pertinent and creative manner. Simply put, it involves reading the media and the way they operate (and are operated) in society and, on the other hand, using the media, communicating through them.
It is not only about acquiring knowledge; it is also about becoming aware of what is behind emotional and affective transactions; about taking a stand and adopting conscious and critical behaviour.
Analysing media practices, contents and technologies, and the interests and strategies that play out upstream to the screens is one way forward to acquiring media literacy skills. In order to understand what is going on in the world, it is also relevant to follow the news, the procedures and options adopted by journalists, namely regarding sources, fact checking and the hierarchy and placement of the news stories. In these matters, comparative work is usually of great help.
It should also be mentioned that the development of media education may take place at school either through specific subjects or through transversal topics that cut across various subjects or subject areas, or even in the complementary or curriculum enrichment activities. In language classes, in social sciences and humanities, in arts and technologies, in philosophy and history, it is possible to use some of the units and topics on the programmes to address the issues of media and media cultures.
There is thus a diverse range of paths, methods and strategies to empower people and thereby help them become media and information literate.