Media Literacy

The Center for Media Literacy ( ) uses this expanded definition:

Media Literacy is a 21st century approach to education. It provides a framework to access, analyze, evaluate and create messages in a variety of forms — from print to video to the Internet. Media literacy builds an understanding of the role of media in society as well as essential skills of inquiry and self-expression necessary for citizens of a democracy.

Core Concepts

  1. All media messages are constructed.
  2. Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules.
  3. Different people experience the same media message differently.
  4. Media have embedded values and points of view.
  5. Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power.

Activity 1

Have each student answer these questions about any visual media.

  1. Who created this message and what creative techniques are used to attract my attention?
  2. What values, lifestyles and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?
  3. Why is this message being sent?

Activity 2

Choose a short clip or short video.

  1. Give one student the visual image.
  2. Give another student the dialogue.
  3. Ask each student to react to their media 'piece.' Then, have them compare their reactions to each piece, and compare with their reactions to the complete clip.


To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium sponsored by Western Kentucky University.

Taimi Olsen, Ph. D.
Assistant Director, Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center
University of Tennessee, Knoxville