CILIP 2019 conference in Manchester. The University of Sheffield Information School has an exhibition stand, and I spent most of today on that (together with six of our great students). However, I did go to the last session yesterday, on Media and Information Literacy.
Nicola Aitkin (Head of Counter Online Manipulation, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) talked about Improving audience resilience to disinformation through media and information literacy. She started by introducing the general background: for example why people are spreading disinformation, the online environment and the “audiences” (including vulnerable audiences). She identified media and information literacy as being vital. They wanted people to be confident and critical in the way they engaged with online information. Aitkin identified that a lot of existing resources are aimed at children, and the number of resources aimed at young people can be bewildering.
The government had committed to a media literacy strategy in the Online Harms white paper and have just finished the consultation process. Aitkin stressed that “the conversation hasn’t finished” and they were keen to reach out to people and organisations who, in particular, can help them engage with more difficult to reach populations. They have also had media literacy round tables.
They have a pilot advertising campaign currently running on Facebook and Twitter aimed at 18-35 year olds with the strapline “don’t feed the beast”. Aitkin said that week they published guidelines aimed at teachers (I haven't traced that yet).
The 2nd talk was from Dr Sangeet Bhullar (Director, WISE KIDS), who talked about promoting digital literacy and digital wellbeing for children and young people. She talked about the Internet as being like a city, and whereas a parent wouldn’t drop a child in a city, they may not prepare their children for the risks of the city of the Internet. The internet differed from a physical city in offering connection to more people, things and spaces. Bhullar felt it was too narrow to position it as a safety issue. It was important to know about the legislation that could be used in this context (which is not just legislation brought in to combat cyber bullying). To illustrate the current risks, Bhullar played a deepfake video which put words into Obama’s mouth.
She also mentioned some of her own research in this area: Rethinking responses to children and young people’s online lives at https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/273226 and the Wise kids generation 2000 research project
Bhullar felt that teachers are not spending enough time listening to young people talking about what they do and value online. It was important for people to recognise risk and not be afraid of the Internet, so they could take advantage of the internet’s benefits. She saw the three key things as being pillars of development: Digital literacy, digital citizenship, character and wellbeing.
She finished by outlining the he role of librarians.
The third presentation was from Philip Russell (Deputy Librarian, Technological University of Dublin) about the be media smart campaign, an initiative from Media Literacy Ireland, which is a collaboration of various organisations, including the Library Associationof Ireland. It was built on the idea – what if we could get people to care as much about where their information comes from, as they do where their food comes from. The TV ad reached half a million and radio ads 2 million people, and there were social media ads and news stories picking up on the campaign. About 30-40 libraries supported the campaign. The cross sectoral approach was important and libraries being involved was significant.