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No Silos - National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) Conference Reflection

The biennial NAMLE conference was held last month in Chicago. As this was our first NAMLE conference (#NAMLE2017), we were excited, and relieved, to see so many media literacy “camps” (come on now, we all know they exist) represented, as well as many different kinds of audiences (activists, students, university professors, k-12 teachers, librarians, etc.) present. Check out the full conference program here.

Although there are some real and substantial differences in approaches to media and information literacy among these various traditions and groups, there are obviously also enough similarities to encourage such diverse participation. This bodes well for the future.

Pre-conference activities included a well-attended second meeting of the North American subchapter of the Global Alliance for Partners in Media and Information Literacy (GAPMIL). This may be the only organization to explicitly promote media AND information literacy. As our research and teaching makes a case for bringing these two worlds together, you can see why GAPMIL is of particular interest to us. Happily, there were more librarians at this meeting than the first one in Canada last year (maybe because the American Library Association conference was also in town), but predictably questions resurfaced regarding the term ‘media and information literacy’.

If you are still unsure about the similarities and overlap between these two areas, we suggest reading work by Marcus Leaning. His research was one of the main catalysts for our own collaborative media and information literacy writing and teaching. In 2014 Leaning published a chapter on the topic in the anthology “Media Literacy Education in Action: Theoretical and Pedagogical Perspectives” and just this year published new work on the topic, “Media and Information Literacy: An Integrated Approach for the 21st Century”. Also, check out the UNESCO media and information literacy curriculum published in 2011.

Sonia Livingstone, Renee Hobbs, and Hans Schmidt have all called for an alliance between media and information literacy too.

In addition to the above, our collaborative research and teaching lead to incorporating work by several key writers in the library and information science world including Emily Drabinski, Eamon Tewell and James Elmborg. See March 14 and June 23 ‘No Silos’ blog posts for more on this.

But back to the GAPMIL pre-conference event . . . there was recognition by some media literacy educators about the value of librarians and as noted, several librarians were in attendance. In addition, four working groups were formed:

  1. Advocacy

  2. Outreach

  3. Research

  4. Communication & Organizational Development.

Chairs of each group will also serve on the GAPMIL steering committee. And although forming a new subchapter of any organization is usually messy and often challenging, we are hopeful for the future of this group.

We collected a list of Twitter handles from interested participants - thanks to Ian O’Byrne who Skyped in with that great suggestion - email Natasha if you want a copy. There is also a GAPMIL Facebook group if you want to be involved or just stay apprised of the latest developments. Ian and Troy Hicks did a stellar job keeping meeting notes - you can read them here.

Relatedly, the Center for Media Literacy’s 2017 media literacy week will focus on what libraries and librarians are doing in support of media literacy education.

We believe more interdisciplinary work should be encouraged by NAMLE and other organizations (in LIS, communications and other fields). It would be great to see this as a theme for future conferences.

Slides from Jeff Share’s NAMLE presentation ‘Critical Media Literacy & Environmental Justice’ - his work, along with that of Doug Kellner, has influenced our own.

We learned much more than there is room to discuss here at the NAMLE conference, including many ideas for the third iteration of our media and information literacy class - check out our curated class hashtag #co233bc to see some of these ideas and resources. We plan on revising our syllabus in the next couple of weeks and will post on this site. If you are interested in seeing detailed lesson plans, don’t hesitate to reach out, always happy to share.

Finally, it wasn’t all work. What’s a trip to Chicago without a visit to Second City? It’s even funnier when Spencer Brayton and Neil Anderson get called out by the comedians . . . too bad that didn’t make it to Twitter.

Spencer, Karen, Neil, Natasha and Marieli at Second City

Thanks for reading and don't forget to break the silo!

Natasha & Spencer

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