Friday, August 12, 2011

UNESCO Media & Information Literacy: report 1

On Thursday (11th August) I participated in the meeting organised by the IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) Information Literacy Section and UNESCO IFAP (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Information For All Program) on Media and Information Literacy Indicators and Government Action Recommendations. It was held at the Universidad Politécnica de Puerto Rico, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I will do several separate blog posts about it.

The day started with a presentation via video link from Mr Janis Karklins, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information at UNESCO. The picture above shows the video feed. He identified reasons why UNESCO is working on literacy issues. Namely, in order to succeed in fast changing societies, and tackle the challenges of the knowledge economy, people needed various literacies. These literacies should support diverse people to succeed. Information Literacy was still seen as part of people’s basic human right which helped people achieve their personal and professional goals.

UNESCO felt that they needed to look at a combination of literacies, and felt that it would be “interesting from a conceptual point of view” to link the two essential literacies: media literacy and information literacy. They had already done work in both these areas. Mr Karklins presented a diagram which showed overlapping circles: information literacy, media literacy, digital literacy, computer literacy and “other types of literacies” (the examples given for "other" were financial and health literacy).
The strategy for Media and Information Literacy (MIL) includes the Teachers’ curriculum for media and information literacy (published in July: I was sure I had blogged this, but I don't seem to have done so. I wil put this in a separate post), establishment of an international clearinghouse for MIL, strategy statements for MIL and developing indicators for MIL.
The point of the indicators would be to use them internationally. It was hoped that the MIL indicators would be a tool for countries’ self-assessment and a benchmark or standard for MIL. The main challenges include:
- Finding a balance between IL and ML;
- Getting agreement on definitions;
- Identifying the indicators themselves!
The process started in 2007 with the publication by Lau and Catts: Towards Information Literacy Indicators, then in November 2010 there was the first meeting of MIL experts, then some further conceptual work, and now two separate meetings (one with media literacy experts, held in July, and one with IL experts i.e. the one I just attended).

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