Media Education for Law Enforcement Officers

Media literacy instructional practices help police instructors use video to build critical thinking and communication skills

The Media Education Lab collaborated with the Austin (TX) Police Academy to create the first professional development program for police instructors on media education

Police instructors can learn to use media literacy instructional practices to improve how cadets and current officers learn from video. Instructors learn practical strategies to help them use video and digital media for learning purposes in ways that strengthen critical thinking and communication skills. Learning outcomes include: 

  • Examine the rising influence of video in American society today
  • Understand how media messages about law enforcement shape perceptions of both police and citizens
  • Recognize how videos that are used in police training can be used to normalize or disrupt patterns of racial bias, stereotypes, and inappropriate use of force
  • Identify how video content and form can be used to reinforce or challenge power relationships
  • Gain knowledge about why and how videos increase learning
  • Learn strategies to guide your responsible selection of videos for learning purposes
  • Apply instructional practices to the use of videos in ways that accelerate student learning
  • Advance your own critical thinking skills as a media consumer and creator
  • Discover opportunities to integrate critical thinking about media into the courses you teach
  • Develop increased confidence in selecting and using videos for police training

This training program is evidence-based practice, which includes the integration of expertise/expert opinion; knowledge, judgment, and critical reasoning acquired through training and professional experiences; and information gathered from data and observations collected in the field. Here's a sample of the evidence: 

Police instructors who experienced the program at the Austin Police Academy, Austin TX had this to say:

What Did You Learn? 

• I learned how to think critically when choosing media for my classes… and when I consume media myself.

• 6 Functions of Video for Learning

• I gained a more articulate way of describing the purpose(s) or function for the instructional videos that we would like to produce.

• I learned how to use media to elicit critical thinking and transformative ideas in my training classes. How to engage the student with media and how media can help students learn and understand content.

• I learned to actively think about what I am hearing, seeing and using, from multiple points of view.

• How media can and does influence. How we can use media to further instruction and critical thinking in our lecture.

• All media is viewed very differently by people of different backgrounds experiences.

• Media bias effects, pause-notice-predict, people learn by adding knowledge to what they already know.

• Interpretation of media by the user and the consumer and how these impressions may not be the same, why.

• Different ways to think about the videos we choose for our classes.

• The key questions of media literacy

• Learning new ways to evaluate videos.

• Provided a framework of of evaluation and teaching options that can be used to communicate why videos have been selected.

• Better ways to understand and select videos for training value.

• I took a lot of what I already knew or believed about my use of educational media and added some polish and context to how and why I make selections.

• I learned that many of the processes we’ve been using when showing videos have names and frameworks that we can use to maximize their impact.

• The 6 functions of video for learning

• How to better interpret video content and motive of the author

• I learn to be aware of the message the content is sending and to be aware of the audience receiving it.

• That media literacy isn’t a scary concept; it’s a skill that anyone can learn and practice.

• All of the different aspects under the surface of all videos and different tools we can use to be critical in the future.

• The principles of Media Literacy and especially critical thinking regarding media.

• How media can be used to create discussion and critical thinking in the classroom setting and how to choose the right media for the job.

• How emotions play a strong role in videos and how they can be intentionally manipulated.

What Did You Like about the Training? 

• I enjoyed the open discussion and the hands-on classroom activities.

• It gave me new perspectives to consider when drafting future media productions for training.

• It was one of the first courses offered to in-service instructors to equip them with tools to help them teach once they get hired to instruct at the Academy.

• I liked that the instructors encouraged participation and taught us that MANY points of view are valuable.

• Very interactive and informative.

• I liked the various exercises and how they flowed.

• Student exercises were useful.

• Focus on evaluative techniques and purpose-driven messaging

• Active learning. Concepts clearly explained.

• The 5 questions to analyze a video.

• The active discussions and differing opinions

• The various learning strategies.

• Course provided a good introduction to the concept of media literacy.

• It was relevant, interactive, and occasionally even challenging (without being confrontational).

• I love the interaction and the willingness of the presenters to engage and learn as they taught.

• It showed how to look at different forms of media and evaluate them in order to accomplish our objectives as educators.

• Informative, engaging and the environment was comfortable for sharing. There was no pressure to participate but most were compelled to share.

Click here to access print handouts, videos, curriculum, and slides for the professional development program:

Media Education for Law Enforcement Professionals Program Fee: $99.

Contact Renee Hobbs at for pricing for professional development training, workshops, or presentations.