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Monday, August 3, 2009

NAMLE: President's Address

Sherri Hope Culver (shown left talking to her video doppelganger), President of the National Association for Media Literacy Education opened the NAMLE conference in Detroit noting that participants came from 34 states and 7 countries.

Culver’s President’s Address posited that 2009 will prove to be the tipping point for media literacy as a “social epidemic” – it is being taught in all sorts of new places, formal and informal, and the meme is central to every emerging platform from YouTube to Facebook to Twitter. We have gone almost instantly, Culver said “from ‘how can I find that out’ to ‘I can find anything – see it, watch it, download it, edit it…’ and media literacy adds the key question, “but should I.” Availability, access and fear – the perfect storm for media literacy.

But, if we stop talking about what media literacy isn’t, or why different organizations have different definitions, the opportunities are stronger than ever to integrate media literacy into the highest levels of education.

The Senate is working on a bill that would provide federal matching fund for states to support 21st century technology skills, including media literacy and critical skills. The Department of Education, as well, is incorporating media and technology education.

Even in popular culture, media literacy has edged its way into the mainstream. NBC’s “30 Rock” deals explicitly (the “Snapple product placement” episode) and implicitly (behind the scenes of a conglomerate company with media as one tentacle) with media literacy issues. Nickelodeon’s “iCarly” has covered topics like ownership, censorship, access and product placement; young people can watch the series, then go online and see the webisodes that were being produced on TV.

(Below, Renee Hobbs uses her Flip video camera to document Sherri Hope Culver's speech up close.)

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