If you’re not, you should be. And you should be sure to teach your kids how to do it too. This week I attended a forum hosted by my employer, ictQATAR, on digital communications literacy that addressed the importance of building literacy in the new, pervasive forms of communications – online, video, audio, etc. It takes literacy away from just text and into the digital realm where most communications takes place today. And more importantly, the forum addressed the need to move from general media consumers, to media understanding – and to do that, we must think critically.
I had the chance to hear from and speak to numerous international digital literacy experts at the forum. All of them of course agree that we need to teach digital media literacy so that people can actively engage in the emerging digital age.
One of the people I most enjoyed chatting with was Tessa Jolls (video interview coming soon on ictQATAR’s YouTube page!), President of the Center for Media Literacy in the US. She made teaching critical thinking logical. Her Center focuses on helping teachers and parents teach children critical thinking skills needed to be digitally literate in a structured way. Their goal is to make sure people can access, analyze, create and participate with media content – clearly it’s not just about consumption!
Something she shared that seems so simple, but is really quite sophisticated, is five key questions you should ask yourself about the digital media you interact with (developed by the Center for Media Literacy):
1. Who created this message?
2. What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?
3. How might different people understand this message differently?
4. What values, lifestyles and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?
5. Why is this message being sent?
These questions are valuable for all of us – not just children. In a world where we are constantly bombarded by digital messages, we should take a step back and think critically – it will go a long way towards make us more than digital media consumers, but digitally literate media consumers!