Media Literacy: main concepts

The following still images, video and short texts attempt to represent what I consider the main concepts media literacy involves. I identified these concepts during the online course called Media Literacy, in the spring of 2010. From the beginning to the end of the course, I was amazed by the numerous, different ideas in the field. I was already familiar with some of them; but others were completely new to me.

In order to give a coherent organization to the post, I borrowed some of the concepts that Douglas Kellner and Jeff Share had already identified within media theory. In Toward Critical Media Literacy: Core concepts, debates, organizations, and policy, these authors identified different aspects in the studies of media literacy.

The fourth concept, participatory media, is not included in Kellner’s and Share’s piece. After all the readings we did during the course, I think this is a new concept that leads academic discussions to the multiple, new participatory aspects the Internet offers.

1. Encoding: All media messages are ‘‘constructed’’ –or encoded.

2. Audience Decoding: Each person perceives –or decodes- the message in different directions

3. Media Ownership: We are currently moving from the pyramid structure propelled by traditional media (press, radio, TV) towards a more horizontal structure promoted by the Internet. Such new structure involves new good opportunities, as well as new challenges and questions regarding the role of media in our lives.

4. Participatory media: The new structure Internet offers brings along an opportunity to promote civic participation, which in turn could enhance democratic ideals within modern societies.


~ by Jose Barbeito on May 15, 2010.

2 Responses to “Media Literacy: main concepts”

  1. Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

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  2. Handsome images. You and readers of this blog may be interested in a new online media literacy course now available from Athabasca University.

    Understanding Media Literacy: Inside Plato’s Cave

    The course was developed by media educators in Canada and embodies many of the same concepts that you have studied (in the UK?) Here’s a short description of the course. Lots of info about the course, philosophy, content, authors and reviews by teachers are found at

    A short description and an article about media literacy from a social justice perspective follows. Thank you
    Gary Marcuse, Project Coordinator

    Understanding Media Literacy: Inside Plato’s Cave
    A 3-credit online course.

    This new media education course was written and field tested by Canadian media educators. The course is designed especially for grades 7-12 teachers who want to help their students develop an informed and critical understanding of the nature, impact and techniques of the mass media. The course and the interactive discussion forums that accompany the units will help teachers understand media theory then transform theory into practice as they develop lessons for their own students and teaching situations.

    This course recognizes that although mass media have come to dominate many aspects of our society, children have few opportunities to develop media literacy skills in formal settings. A basic assumption of the course is that media literacy helps children develop an informed understanding of the nature of the mass media, its techniques, and effects. More specifically, it is education that aims to increase students’ understanding and enjoyment of how the media work, how they produce meaning, how they are organized and how they construct reality. The course aims to provide the means by which teachers and others can foster media literacy in children so that they can critically analyze and evaluate the form and content of media, create media, communicate using media, and understand their use and purpose.

    The course is offered by Athabasca University, a recognized Canadian public university with 30,000 online students. Teachers can take this 13 unit course as a six week summer session or study at their own pace during the year. The course is offered as EDUC 115 and CMNS 315 and is endorsed by the British Columbia Teacher Qualification service. Course fees are average for online courses.

    Individualized study (work at your own pace) is available throughout the year. Registration opens 10 August 2010. The 2010 summer session runs July 5-August 15 (registration June 1-10 ) For more information, the course website at Athabasca University is found at


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