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EPALE - Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe


EPALE discussion: The role of media literacy in adult learning

by Markus Palmén

/en/file/media-literacyMedia literacy


As part of our September focus, EPALE is organising a written discussion on the role of media literacy in adult learning.

The discussion will take place on this page on 27 September at 10:00 CEST and will be moderated by EPALE Thematic Coordinator Markus PalménDon’t miss the opportunity to share your views and experiences with the EPALE community on any of the following topics:

10:00-12:30 CEST

Media literacy as a concept

Media literacy is a cross-disciplinary field of research and education, which is commonly understood to encompass accessing media, analysing and evaluating media content, and actively creating media content.

  • Do you find the above definition of media literacy useful, or is it lacking some elements?  What is most important? What would you emphasise, remove or add?
  • Do you think different types of media require different types of media literacy skills for adults to evaluate content? For example, does analysing a piece of art require different skills than evaluating the content of a news website? What might these different skills be?


Discussion left open during lunch interval


13:30-16:30 CEST

European practices of media literacy education for adults

  • Is media literacy a topic of public debate in your country? Is it e.g. discussed in connection with the term of ‘fake news’? Is it a political topic? Give examples of the debate in your country. 
  • What do you think are the media literacy skills most needed by European adults in 2018? Do you think adults’ media literacy education should differ from that of children or young people? How? 

Share interesting practices and initiatives of media literacy for adults in your country. What is being done, how, to what kind of impact? Share concrete examples.

 ** Comments will be open on 24 September so participants can introduce themselves or post their opinions in advance.

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Anna Lasmane's picture
Arvien vairāk cilvēki sāk izvēlēties tādus virzienus, kas mūsdienās ir ienesīgākie finanšu ziņā, mazāk atalgoto darbu arodus vairs nav vēlmes apgūt. Valstī sāk pietrūkt inženieru, un dažādu tehnisku arodu pratēji, jo šie studiju virzieni nav populāri. Attiecīgi, arī tālākizglītības jomā, šādas nozares kļūst aizvien pieprasītākas. 
Markus Palmén's picture
The moderated part of the discussion is nearing its end but do not think this means that you should stop here! Carry on the debate, exchange information and network. EPALE is about little else. 

In the morning we focused on the definition of media literacy and its dimensions. I don´t exaggerate if I say that a consensus was reached. A (self) critical attitude and worldview is the lifeblood of media literacy, to the extent that media literacy (understanding media messages and outlets at different levels) grows out of that critical mindset. It is a consequence of a certain sophistication that adult educators impart. But this mindset is not innate in anyone of any age - indeed education is needed. 

Media literacy is a salient topic across the continent and in many countries efforts are being made to upskill people in media literacy. Digital skills is a subtopic that emerged often -the technical aspects of digital literacy education should not mask the fact that critical media skills lie at the core of digital skills as well.

We heard of many initiatives and examples from across Europe that I urge you to take a closer look at, also after this discussion. Come back to this page, and take a few moments to browse through some of the links and shared resources. It might be the seed of some new cooperation!

Thank you very much for your participation!
Markus Palmén's picture
What I gather from the very many insightful comments is that media literacy -understood as a facet of critical thinking - should be integrated across the board in (adult) education. In digital skills learning and certifications, in humanities and social science topics, in basic skills education, for youth and seniors alike.
Maximilian Welter's picture
An important aspect of media literacy is still the handling of social media. Social media channels can also help adult education to better reach its target groups. But rarely do adult education organisations and their stakeholders have targeted concepts, the necessary know-how or simply the courage to start implementing them.

In our Berlin project "weiter gelernt" we have created a small practical guide that can still be helpful for beginners and experienced users. (Social-Media-Strategy)

Maruša Mohorič's picture
Hello Maximilian and Christine,

my name is Maruša and I am EPALE coordinator from Slovenia. I've read your discussion and BTW checked on Facebook, how many slovenian organization from public service network (Adult Education Centres from different cities) have their Facebook account.
By quich check I would say that almost all of them, but as you both already mentioned - I see a big gap between creating/having social media account and having effective and well established social media strategy. 
Christine Bertram's picture
Great example, Marusa! In this context, we also need to keep in mind that vast differences exist between countries in the use of social media. I think you'd get a very different picture talking to Estonia and Malta, where the understanding and use of social media is very different.
Maximilian Welter's picture
Hi Marusa, 
that's a nice example. Just being there is not enough if you don't know what you want to do at all. "Sure, we have a facebook account. But it's useless," we often hear. 
In the meantime, it has become established to have social media accounts, but the question of the goal of use and the type of content derived from it is unfortunately often forgotten. 
Christine Bertram's picture
Totally agree that social media strategy is not a key priority. It's great there is a resource available for organisations. One issue is also the capacity (and with this I mean time) to deal with developing a social media strategy for many adult education organisations.
Many of them are busy delivering with the scarce resources they have and if they are not delivering they're trying to sort financials and/ or acquire new project funding. It's just not a key priority...
Maximilian Welter's picture
Yes, I'm afraid not. But the question: "How do I reach my target group?" is certainly already a key priority. I think we should reflect more consistently on the formats we use to communicate and invest time in change. 
But in addition to the available resources, this is also a question of leadership and mindset. Changes take time. Time to try things out. Time to make mistakes. And an error culture that really allows mistakes. 
Christine Bertram's picture
Absolutely. Some of these could possibly fall into project management tasks as they are about prioritisation. Certainly, this requires media competency and literacy to appropriately plan and prioritise... more to do in supporting the Projects.