From Theory to Practice and Back Again: Reflections on Media Literacy Education in 2020 and Beyond

Recovering Media Literacy Theory for the Age of Machine Learning 

DATE: Satursday, October 19, 2019

TIME: 5 - 6 pm

LOCATION: New York State Communication Association

Renee Hobbs considers the challenges and opportunities of media literacy education today, given the rapid changes in systems, economics and technologies. Children and young adults experience firsthand the pressure to quantify the self, and many have a good understanding of the benefits and harms that social media brings to personal and social identity. As companies are investing heavily in facial recognition and sentiment analysis, it's easier than ever for our devices to manipulate our emotions. As a result, we must consider new ways of teaching and learning about persuasion and propaganda. Algorithmic personalization enables propaganda be be targeted with precision to deliver "personalized" messages that confirm, reassure and nudge. But the current political climate makes it especially challenging for teachers to explore the new forms of propaganda that are circulating in culture. Looking at theory, we can see the very real risks and harms to society that may result. Given that the public has little understanding of algorithmic personalization, the next phase of media literacy education may need to rely theories of surveillance capitalism to support the development of learners' knowledge, competencies and skills. But the best ways of teaching and learning about media economics, systems and technologies is not through lecturing. Through inquiry-based learning, students of all ages can advance media literacy competencies that can help them develop the habits of mind needed to thrive in an age of machine learning.

Presenter Bio

Renee Hobbs is Professor and Director of the Media Education Lab at the University of Rhode Island, she is the author of The Library Screen Scene (Oxford University Press, 2019), Create to Learn: Introduction to Digital Literacy (Wiley, 2017), Copyright Clarity (Corwin/Sage, 2011) as well as many other books, publications, and award-winning multimedia. She co-edited The International Encyclopedia on Media Literacy (Wiley, 2019), with over 250 entries from global contributors. Hobbs also created Mind Over Media, a crowdsourced digital learning platform for analyzing contemporary propaganda, working with European educators to examine the potential of media literacy pedagogies as a means to promote intellectual curiosity. Hobbs is the Founding Co-Editor of the Journal of Media Literacy Education and she co-directs the University of Rhode Island's Graduate Certificate Program in Digital Literacy, a leadership development program. More than 20 years ago, she helped found the organization that became the National Association for Media Literacy Education. Hobbs earned an EdD in Human Development from Harvard University, an M.A in Communication and B.A. in English Literature from the University of Michigan.