The Fallacy of Media Literacy, in Three Acts


I fully understand there is a difference between media literacy, digital literacy and information literacy. These differences are not explored in mainstream focus on the terms.  In the same way MOOC is a catch-all for online education innovation, ________ literacy can swap out with other _______ literacy because its popular use is as a catch-all to ask for critical thinking about sources.  As I found in previous MOOC research, myopic focus on properly defining the term ignored the runaway train of those who had already defined the term and co-opted it. I would argue the same has happened for any of these literacies.

Act 1

Act 2


Act 3


______ literacy is promoted as critical thinking for social justice and the diffusion of knowledge, a hurray concept if there ever was one.  In practice, it serves the dominant hierarchy of information creation and dissemination.  There is a practical element in terms of search and access, but there is a value element about quality and dependability.  Library science, like any social science, is probabilistic rather than certain, so there are instruments for measures.  __________ literacy uses mass media and government sources as the high point of the measure.  That makes the President-elect the high point of the measure.

The high point of the measure runs headstrong into the discord of the fake news term.  The high point of the measure is joined by the other high point in dismissively laughing about the veracity of a claim.  The high point of the measure notes how power is an easy subversion of the checks and balances system.  This means the measure is neither valid nor reliable, no matter how many 2017 conference panels or presentations call for a greater investment in information/digital/media literacy.

About Rolin
Assistant Professor & Director of EdTech & Media at Seattle Pacific University. Consultant w/ RAM TEC. Work with faculty, teach students, explore non-formal learning spaces (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums)

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