Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Closing moments of the 2nd European Media and Information Literacy Forum in Riga #2ndEURMIL

The closing session of the 2nd European Media and Information Literacy Forum in Riga, today, was chaired by Alton Grizzle. As he highlighted, it was heartening that the presence of the Latvian Government was far from the usual dipping in (with the Cultural Minister participating in the conference, and the Speaker of the Parliament also stayed for the session after the opening session).
Tatjana Ljubic gave a good snapshot of key points from the conference, including: need for more involvement and action from the industry; more insight into how people are making decisions on using, and not using, information; MIL for the lifecourse, lifelong; supporting knowledge on how to use technology well; the ignorance of the "other" in the media, with a lack of intercultural dialogue; the fact that media "want clicks" so there is a detrimental effect on quality; need for modernised libraries and librarians to meet the challenging MIL roles; changing roles for newspapers and journalists, building trust and relationships; media ethics, the need for "good manners" had been mentioned, as well as ethical codes; that the media is less structured, with people getting information here and there from all sorts and sources; need for teacher education; for a top down (policy) and bottom up (grass roots) approach; expectations from academia (lots of them - partnerships with parents, journalists, private sector etc.); the issue of how MIL should be funded; intergenerational competencies in MIL and how MIL is not just needed by young people; need for more, more innovative education in MIL for young people; initiatives to enable young people to create and participate; importance of creating national policies; having MIL integrated in the school curriculum and through informal and and non-formal learning.
Mari Sol Pérez Guevara (Policy Officer responsible for media literacy, European Commission), Divina Frau-Meigs (Representative of the GAPMIL European Sub-Chapter, Professor, University of Sorbonne Nouvelle), Leo Pekkala (Head of Unit, Media Education and Audiovisual Media (MEKU), National Audiovisual Institute, Finland) and Dace Melbarde (Minister of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, President of the Latvian National Commission for UNESCO) also gave their highlights and thoughts from the conference. I'm afraid I did not capture these properly, so apologies for that.

Frau-Meigs felt that we were coming together, from different communities, to start to make a rich exchange of knowledge and experience. It is a field with tensions, but this is a signal that this is a very lively, vibrant and dynamic field. This includes tensions in curriculum and forms of assessment, in how we understand propaganga and even knowledge. Where to go next? The "Riga Recommendations" have come out of the conference (which I haven't mentioned yet, but they have been drafted after the last few weeks and was finalised today - I will blog them). Also there is a strategy for reinserting explicit mention of Media Literacy (or hopefully, Media and Information Literacy) in the revised EC audiovisual Directive. There is an intention that a statement will be used to present in the various European countries for lobbying purposes. A 3rd European MIL Forum is planned for 2018: at the moment a host is required.

Pekkala noted the wide range of backgrounds and environments that the conference participants came from, which had enriched the conference. He also mentioned the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, as a text to go back to to get encouragement for MIL work. He reminded people that there will be an international MIL week and a GAPMIL meeting in Brazil in November. Pekkala reflected on "why are we doing this"? There is a lot still to be done, even though there are MIL achievements. He felt that we were also doing this for a greater good, fostering basic elements of a demographic world (a good life, stability etc.)

Latvian Minister Melbarde closed the conference. I will remind you that this is NOT a verbatim account, these are my summaries of my understanding of what was said. She celebrated the debates and presentations at the conference, and participants concern with this critical area. She recalled the impact of the very first films on their audience, similarly today there can be shock and alarm in engaging with the newest technological developments. The former basic skills - reading, writing, counting - have been added to, and MIL is essential to develop these new skills. Melbarde also stressed that the broader context is important, and development of social skills, understanding of the legal context and so forth are needed for MIL. Latvia is acknowledging, and incorporating, MIL as part of Government policy, and considering the issues of implementation of MIL policy, so there can be real actions. Melbarde said that in the ideal world we would have the skills to identify contemporary challenges and address them in an interdisciplinary way, and MIL is important for this.

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