Thursday, June 19, 2014

Not much Media and Information Literacy in the Final WSIS Targets Review

I have had a superficial look at the newly-released (June 10) Final WSIS Targets Review: Achievements, Challenges and the Way Forward, launched at the [World Summit on the Information Society] WSIS+10 High Level Event, in Geneva, Switzerland, that just took place (to mark 10 years since the first summit). Specifically I was just hunting for references to information literacy and media literacy (so I will not be doing justice to other aspects of the document).
One's hopes are raised a little by the prominent quotation from Irina Bokova on the opening pages "Education stands at the heart of the global development agenda – it is also the focus of two of the 10 WSIS targets. At this time of change, when all societies are seeking new sources of dynamism, we must harness the power of new information and communication technologies to reach the unreached and to enhance the quality of learning, inside and outside the classroom and throughout life. Building inclusive knowledge societies requires crafting the right ecosystems for making the most of new technologies, through teacher training, through media literacy, and through a focus on new skills and competencies.”
Obviously I think that information literacy should be mentioned alongside media literacy. However, even media literacy does not get much of a look in for the rest of the report. The WSIS initiative has always been very focused on technology, rather than information, so this is not a surprise (and it is encouraging that the steady lobbying by library organisations (in particular IFLA) means that the role of libraries in providing access to ICTs is now recognised).
My usual rudimentary search for the word "literacy" shows that digital-, IT-, and e-literacy are mentioned quite frequently, but media and information literacy scarcely at all, not even in connection with the targets of giving everyone access to TV and radio, and the target concerned with adapting school curricula to meet the challenges of the information society.
Media and Information Literacy is mentioned briefly in the section on "Content" :
"The availability of relevant skills is also critical to individuals’ and organisations’ ability to make use of content. UNESCO has developed a set of largely qualitative indicators that can be used to monitor the extent of media and information literacy within different societies, including the quality of national ICT environments, content access, the availability of analytical capabilities and content generation." (p274, in a section about "content" in different languages) later in the same chapter "lack of media and information literacy skills" are seen as inhibiting the demand for local content (p315): a rather consumerist context for MIL, really. There is a further reference to MIL in a passage about Towards Knowledge Societies for Peace and Sustainable Development: Final Statement (UNESCO, 2013)
The Final WSIS Targets Review is at
Photos by Sheila Webber: some photos in which I combine Second Life and teh physical world: the first is "My second life phone is cuter than my real life phone" and the second "Coffee is important in both worlds" (June 2014).

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