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New international research partnership to assess the state of media literacy in Australia and the USA

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As rapid changes in technology and global communication highlight the critical role of media literacy within society, Western Sydney University and The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) are partnering on new research to assess the current state of media literacy education in Australia and the United States.

The ability to access, analyse, evaluate and create different forms of communication is widely acknowledged as essential for full participation in civic life, yet research shows that media literacy education for young people and adults falls short.

Lead of the Australian research team, Dr Tanya Notley from Western Sydney University’s School of Humanities and Communication Arts and Institute for Culture and Society, explains that Australians are often left to learn media literacy on their own, or face increasing levels of social, cultural and economic exclusion.

“Despite the rapid growth in media technology uptake and use over the past 15 years, media literacy education in Australian schools has been offered in an ad hoc and disparate way,” she says.

“While the current national curriculum includes capacity for media literacy teaching for all students, our research highlights that the quality and delivery is neither consistent nor effective.

“At the same time, there are very few opportunities for adults to access media literacy education.”

Building on recent research by Dr Notley and Queensland University of Technology’s Associate Professor Michael Dezuanni on the impact of news media on young Australians, the project will undertake Australia’s first national survey of adults’ media literacy values, needs, capabilities, skills and knowledge. The research will also support media literacy stakeholders across Australia to co-develop a national media literacy framework and strategy.

Dr Notley says the research will address a gap in our knowledge about the kinds of support Australian adults need to be able to critically engage with media in all aspects of their lives.

“Concerns about fake and misleading information have put the term ‘media literacy’ firmly in the public domain. However, discussions about what is needed have primarily been driven by current events and led by journalists, politicians and policymakers.

“This research will be the first to measure the Australian public’s own understanding of this issue.”

The collaboration with New York-based organisation NAMLE will support knowledge exchange between media literacy educators and researchers in Australia and the United States.

“By bringing together thought leaders across research, policy and practice, this project will address information gaps to inform future program development, investment and policymaking, and improve media literacy for all,” says Dr Notley.

The project launches with findings to be presented at NAMLE’s National Media Literacy Conference in July 2021. Initial support for the research is made possible through a grant from Facebook.

Source: Western Sydney University

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