The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) held its biennial conference in Washington, D.C. last month. The location and timing coincided with the American Library Association conference, and for this and perhaps other reasons, there seemed to be an increase in the number of librarians present at NAMLE. This bodes well for the future of media and information literacy.
The last time I was in Washington was in 1996 - I was a second year media studies undergraduate living in England. If you’re wondering how a student could afford a trip from Europe to the US east coast, you’ve obviously never heard about the Hoover giveaway fiasco. True story.
Washington, D.C. is a most appropriate place to discuss media literacy because although important, ultimately media education/literacy can only do so much. It cannot just be down to individuals to figure out the contemporary media quagmire. What responsibilities should media companies take and what legislation should be passed, especially in relation to data and privacy? Federal lawmakers are notoriously out of touch when it comes to the media but a 2018 article in The Hill details three social media regulations the US should import from Europe. It’s worth a look.
Some highlights from NAMLE included:
The wide variety of presentation approaches - research round tables, classroom demos, ideas fair and town hall formats all contributed to a dynamic, interactive experience.
The large number of international attendees and presenters from Canada, Australia, U.K., Portugal, Germany, Lebanon, Israel, and many more. It was fascinating to hear about what is happening, media literacy wise, in all these places.
The panel titled ‘What we don’t talk about: race, politics, religion and sexuality’ and a town hall 'exploring the promises and challenges of using media literacy to work towards social justice and educational equity' were both packed and point to the enthusiasm around critical media literacy topics. It is essential that those working in critical media literacy don’t segregate themselves from larger media literacy spaces such as NAMLE.
I was lucky enough to be interviewed by legendary reporter Irv Chapman about media literacy at the Washington Press Club alongside Jeff Share and Belinha De Abreu (thanks Belinha for organizing this amazing opportunity).
Delighted to see Julie Frechette receive the media literacy researcher award - well deserved! Everyone should read her latest insightful article in the inaugural issue of The International Journal of Critical Media Literacy published earlier this year.
I learned more about the international aspects of media literacy education from Lesley Farmer, who introduced me to MERLOT, the platform, not the wine (already well acquainted with the beverage). Lesley’s Merlot “provides access to curated online learning and support materials and content creation tools, led by an international community of educators, learners and researchers.” Her slides can be found here and I look forward to exploring the site more.
It was also fascinating to learn about Australian Media Literacy projects from Amy Nelson; Mike RobbGrieco’s new book Making Media Literacy in America; Teaching Teachers Critical Media Literacy from Jeff Share; ICT & Media Literacy from Ricardo Castellini da Silva; Constructivist Media Decoding from Kelsey Greene and Cyndy Schiebe of Project Look Sharp; Net Neutrality: The Game from Michelle Ciccone; and Creative Media Arts projects from Michelle Cannon.
I had the chance to virtually connect some conference attendees including Renee Hobbs, Jimmeka Anderson, Ralph Beliveau, Michelle Ciccone, Belinha De Abreu, Diana Maliszewski, Neil Andersen with others who couldn’t make it to the conference. If you haven’t heard about it, Virtually Connecting’s purpose, “is to enliven virtual participation in academic conferences, widening access to a fuller conference experience for those who cannot be physically present at conferences. We are a community of volunteers and it is always free to participate.” Always love chatting with co-director Helen DeWaard. Watch the NAMLE sessions here and consider organizing a session from your next conference.
And finally, although sharpies were a NAMLE conference swag favorite, I think it is hard to beat free video rental coupons from the Media Education Foundation. One or two extra coupons might have mysteriously found their way into my tote.
See #namle2019 #namle19 for related tweets and big props to all at NAMLE for organizing a thoughtful, energetic and engaging conference.
Save the dates for upcoming media literacy conferences including:
The Northeast Regional Media Literacy Conference, November 8-9, 2019 in Providence, Rhode Island, US
The 8th Annual International Critical Media Literacy Conference, February 28-29, 2020 in Savannah, Georgia, US
The 3rd International Media Literacy Research Symposium (IMLRS), June 19, 2020, in Porto, Portugal