Media literacy is the skill to use, understand and evaluate media contents and the skill to produce them. In addition, media literacy includes the skill to operate in media environments.
In the Uudet lukutaidot (‘New literacies’) development programme, the part of media literacy is divided into these three main areas. The main areas are based on the overview presented in the National core curriculum for early childhood education and care (2018), the National core curriculum for pre-primary Education (2014) and the National core curriculum for basic education (2014).
The main areas also correspond to the general understanding of the main areas of media literacy. Media literacy is part of multiliteracy and other tranversal competences as well as part of the learning areas, learning modules and subjects. The three main areas of media literacy are further divided into sub-areas in which the competence descriptions form themes ranging from early childhood education and care all the way to the end of comprehensive school. Understanding the descriptions of media literacy is easier with a perception of the key concepts.
Media broadly means media contents, the devices communicating them, the environments formed by them or the parties producing them, the media industry. In the descriptions, the concept of media is used to refer to several of these meanings. Media contents refer to media presentations in accordance with the broad definition of text. Media devices refer to equipment that is used to produce or communicate media contents. The media also form environments in which people can operate. The media industry consists of all of the organisations, institutions and parties that produce and communicate media contents and devices.
Media literacy in early childhood education, pre-primary education and grades 1–2
Early childhood education
Media literacy in early childhood education and care
The first steps to media literacy are taken in early childhood education and care through curious wondering, play and unprejudiced experimentation. Children are familiarised with everyday media, media devices and media contents. Children empathise with the stories in the media and process them by means of personal expression. Media production is playful activity and experimentation together, which also encourages children to creative self-expression. Media are used when the environment is examined together with the children, information is searched on issues children are interested in or shared issues are communicated about. Interaction and respect for others, the skills required in communication, are practised in everyday life. Alongside experiencing and doing things, children learn to use media devices and content safely and responsibly together with an adult.
Media literacy in pre-primary education
In pre-primary education, the pathway of media literacy continues through shared exploration, insights and playful experimentation. Experiences of the media become more diverse and children have an active role as media users and producers. The world is examined and insight into matters is gained though the media. At the same time, children learn to understand what is fiction and what is true. Together, children examine what the media contents they find meaningful are like and explore the media in their everyday life. Safe media use and age restrictions are discussed with the children. Children are encouraged to experimental media production, rich use of imagination and creative media expression together with others. Children also use the media together for communication, and the development of communication skills is supported by practising good everyday interaction in which others are taken into account.
Media literacy in grades 1–2
In media literacy in grades 1 and 2, pupils examine and produce stories and learn how to use the media safely. Pupils familiarise themselves diversely with media contents and their experience is extended to texts. Pupils learn to understand and interpret the stories, images and sound world conveyed by the media. Pupils produce stories of their own with the help of media devices, using creativity and imagination independently and together with others. Pupils practise media use and production in everyday life responsibly and with consideration for others: they learn that bullying or other inappropriate messaging is not allowed even in media environments. In addition, they learn safety skills that are important in media environments. As part of building their own media relationship, pupils reflect on their media use and understand that there are different media tastes and ways to use the media
Media literacy in grades 3–6
In grades 3–6, the media are used and examined as a channel for expression and influencing. Pupils’ experience of different media contents and their purposes broadens. Pupils practise interpreting and producing contents independently and together with others. Pupils are encouraged to make initiatives, generate ideas and experiment with the media. Pupils develop their competence in audiovisual narration and their technical production skills strengthen when they prepare contents. Media are used in learning to express one’s own thoughts and opinions and to perceive the role of the media in society. Pupils practise media and source criticism by examining the usability of different media contents as sources of information. Pupils learn to foster their own rights and wellbeing and those of others in media consumption and production. In addition, they learn the necessary safety skills required in media environments.
Media literacy in grades 7–9
In grades 7–9, media literacy is represented by creativity, awareness and a critical approach. Creative media contents are created on the basis of pupils’ own ideas and initiatives, experimenting together and finding one’s own strengths. At the same time, pupils develop their competence in narrative methods and technical skills. They also deepen their competence in responsible production of media contents aimed at influencing and communicating information. The publication and possibilities to use the contents are discussed together. Pupils’ understanding of media texts deepens and they evaluate the reliability of social media contents as sources of information. The wide variety of effects media have on individuals, groups and society are examined critically. Data and privacy protection and the required interaction and safety skills are revised. In addition, pupils are encouraged to make choices that support their wellbeing when using media.