UNESCO/IAMCR Joint Sessions on Media Literacy


As part of IAMCR's 2011 conference in Istanbul, UNESCO and IAMCR's Media Education Research Section organized two joint sessions on Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Indicators.

These sessions allowed IAMCR members to provide constructive feedback on a project that UNESCO is in the process of developing: creating indicators for Media and Information Literacy as a diagnostic tool for the use of nation-states’ decision-makers as well as civil society actors.

The first session considered the draft document for the indicators and was presented by UNESCO representatives and one of the co-authors, Ralph Catts. The document 'draws upon extensive previous work, the perspectives of many experts around the world, and numerous discussions at workshops and conferences.'  It 'provides elements for the definition of media and information literacy (MIL) and its learning outcomes.' It suggests 'a rationale for a conception of MIL as a collective set of interrelated competencies (knowledge, skills, and abilities) necessary for education today'; and finally, 'it identifies and describes some of the challenges in developing measurable variables and ideas for evaluating the trade-offs in selecting indicators.'

The first session was an opportunity to clarify not only the aims and content of the UNESCO draft report, but also the background and scope of such a project. Exchanges with the audience showed a great deal of interest in the process but also some qualms. These especially regarded content and construct validity, as well as the adaptation of such a project to regional contexts and specific countries. The necessity to ensure that indicators be of a qualitative nature was strongly expressed by IAMCR researchers.

The second session welcomed the contribution of several leading members of IAMCR who had been given access to the UNESCO draft report in advance. They emphasised dimensions the document of UNESCO should take into account, namely: the different traditions of media literacy in different regions of the globe; an emphasis not only on the user side (access, evaluation and use) but also on the production and creation dimensions; socio-cultural asymmetries, inequalities and diversities; the connection of media literacy with human rights issues; MIL as a collective responsibility and a dimension of public policies.

IAMCR will produce a report for UNESCO on the two sessions. It is expected that the final version of the Media and Information Literacy Indicators document will incorporate some of these contributions so as to ensure closer collaboration between UNESCO and IAMCR. Another MIL debate will take place at the next UNESCO conference in South Africa, also convened by the Media Education Research section.

by Divina Frau-Meigs (Université de Paris 3)
and Manuel Pinto (Universidade do Minho)