Category Archives: UNESCO Media & Information Literacy Course

MIL Activity 12.2: A picture of globalisation

Write a short (200 word) entry in your learning journal describing some of the ways that globalised goods or services are used in your local context.

Blueberries are a regular feature of my breakfast. In winter, they fly in from Chile. In summer, from New Jersey or British Columbia. Bananas and coffee arrive from Costa Rica. Milk is local.

There are no Canadian-made electronics in my home. If/when China stops exporting, I will be forced to use my phone, computer etc. until they wear out or find others on the black market.

The local Wal-Mart contains little or no domestic product. In addition to providing cheap products to budget-conscious shoppers, it exports their money to the US and overseas. Costco provides the same services for those with more disposable income.


The 2013 clothing factory collapse in Bangladesh implicated Loblaws, our major grocery chain, which includes Joe Fresh, a line of clothing manufactured in Bangladesh and featured in each megastore. There were several images of the Joe Fresh label among the rubble and debris during the rescue efforts. The CEOs of each company made public statements, not claiming naïve innocence but pledging to help the injured and to improve working conditions among garment workers.

There is no question of living in a globalised culture. The question becomes, ‘how do we do so ethically?’


Activity 12.1 – Globalization – who owns?

Who owns the local newspaper, radio and television stations?
Canada has one public television broadcaster and a few private broadcasters.
Recently, its major internet and telephone provider purchased its largest private television network.
There are one or two major newspaper chains.
There are several radio networks, including one public network.
There is also a very large number of weekly/monthly independent newspapers.
For the most part, Canadian media institutions are Canadian-owned.
Who owns the social media networks?
These are the shared networks used by other North American and European countries: Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Do all of the news sources seem to give the same story, or do they present alternative views and diverse sources?
There is little diversity in the perspective of news sources.
News outlets subscribe to news services (Reuters, Canadian Press, Associated Press), all of whom employ stringers in foreign countries.
They get most of their news from government and corporate news releases.
There are small publications attached to marginalized groups, but these have small audiences.
With the advent of the internet and alternative news organizations and bloggers, there is now greater diversity of perspectives. Gawker is one example. A Canadian example is, which promotes an alternative POV.
The low cost of publishing on the net has provided a place for dissenting voices, like

Activity 8.6 Information society – Knowledge society


> What is the difference between information society and knowledge society?

In emerging knowledge societies, there is also a virtuous circle in which the progress of knowledge and

technological innovation produces more knowledge in the long term.

While information is a knowledge-generating tool, it is not knowledge itself.

Information is in many cases a commodity, in which case it is bought or sold, whereas knowledge, despite certain restrictions (defence secrets, intellectual property, traditional forms of esoteric knowledge, for example), belongs of right to any reasonable mind.

A piece of information, “enhanced” though it may be (to eliminate noise or transmission errors, for example), does not necessarily make sense.

Knowledge is information processed for beneficial purposes.”

> Why is information literacy important for communities and citizens to participate in a knowledge society?

“In knowledge societies, everyone must be able to move easily through the flow of information submerging us, and to develop cognitive and critical thinking skills to distinguish between “useful” and “useless” information.

patient and concerted efforts in such areas as education at all levels, technological catch-up in strategic areas of scientific research and the implementation of effective innovation systems.

Will knowledge societies be societies based on knowledge-sharing for all or on the partition of knowledge?

Closing the digital divide will not suffice to close the knowledge divide, for access to useful, relevant knowledge is more than simply a matter of infrastructure – it depends on training, cognitive skills and regulatory frameworks geared towards access to contents.

Some experts have noted that, far from confirming the hypothesis of “dematerialization”, our societies may on the contrary be in the midst of a process of “hyper-industrialization” because knowledge itself has become “commoditized” in the form of exchangeable, and codifiable information.

Knowledge is common good. The issue of its commoditization therefore should be very seriously examined.”


> How is information viewed and valued in your country?

There is a constant struggle for freedom of information in Canada. Corporations—and the government they control—are desperately trying to put controls on information to preserve their business models and profits. This has resulted in a copyright law that threatens to limit Canada’s competitiveness educationally and commercially. The government has a freedom of information act which it constantly frustrates. It has also put a gag order on its scientists to prevent them from outing its climate change activities.

Information is therefore seen as extremely valuable and potentially dangerous, so it is carefully guarded and husbanded.

> How do people regard printed information (e.g. from the major newspapers) compared with information generated in the electronic media?

Newspaper circulation is dropping steadily as Twitter and Google grow. Our national news agency maintains a healthy broadcast system and a quality website. Twitter is popular.

MIL Activity 8.4 Digital literacy for 21st century learning and teaching

What do you think are the benefits of using digital technologies or ICT (information communication technologies) for school or community-based learning?

Currency – recent thinking and reporting

Variety/diversity – broader range of information than what is available off-line

Suitability – info that matches the developmental stages, needs, nationality of the researcher

Responses to the video 10 benefits of digital tech from Amplivox

1 Students love it

‘Students love [technology]’ is a foolish reason to use it. Students love sugar too, but that doesn’t mean sugar should be the engine of learning. ‘Students enjoy learning using technology’ is a better reason. And this is the FIRST reason? Wouldn’t it be better to start with ‘tech use improves learning?’

2 Engages 4 key components to learning: active engagement, group participation, feedback and connection to real-world experts.

Well, tech can if applied well, but this is a very conditional statement. It depends significantly on the choices of hardware, software and their uses.

3 PD

Again, a very conditional statement, depending on what hardware, software and activities are used.

4 Makes life easier for teachers

Rarely, if ever, does tech make life easier for teachers. It requires a learning curve and maintenance. It can make life more interesting and learning more effective, but rarely easier.

5 Improves test scores

A dubious benefit since standardized tests and their scores are highly suspect as measures of real learning.

6 Helps students with short attention spans

Ironic as many detractors of tech claim that it shortens students’ attention  spans. Combined with #1 above, it can help students pay more attention if they are engaged in the learning activity.

7 Learn from the experts – free resources

This is true when the experts are authentic and communicate at the students’ levels. WWW files are rarely leveled for comprehension and development, so need vetting using IL strategies.

8 Encourages homework (flipped classroom)

Ironic again because it means that homework is done in class, which makes it classwork.

9 Saves money – multiplies teachers in classroom

Direct contradiction of the intro, which states that tech will not replace teachers. It is inaccurate, if not bad PR, to call tech a teacher and suggest that teachers should use it. Tech is learning assistance appropriately applied by professional teachers.

10 Removes obstacles to learning

This plays into the hands of the producer (Amplivox), which manufactures and sells an antiquated teaching aid: amplified voice. Their definition of ‘obstacle’ is hearing difficulty. There is no mention of sight impairment.

Overall, this video presents 10 debatable and inaccurate representations of learning with tech. Most significantly, it omits media and information literacy as benefits of tech in learning.

MIL Activity 7.3: Online content and contact – challenges and risks

Share any experience that you or a friend has had with any one of the challenges outlined in Reading 7.3.

I occasionally receive advice from friends that they are forwarding from other friends. One involved remote car locks, describing someone stealing signals and using them to open and steal vehicles. Another involved the dangers in eating certain commonplace foods. There have been several, each one urging immediate actions be taken to avoid calamity or correct a dangerous situation.

How did you/they deal with it?

In each case, I have searched for the phenomenon on  I have always succeeded in finding a result.

What was the final outcome?

In four of the five cases, presented me with either the exact or similar post, then explained why it was a hoax. I copied the URL and sent it as a reply to the person from whom I received the original message.

In one of the five cases, reported that this was a legitimate warning. I also sent that URL back to the sender, with a thank you.

What lessons did you/they learn?

I learned that is generally reliable in identifying WWW hoax messages.

What surprised me is that my friends did NOT learn, and continued to send me unvalidated posts, i.e., did not check the reliability of the data they forwarded to me, even after I told them the last one was a hoax. They seem to be of the opinion that, if it is on the WWW it must be true. Or, that if they received it from a trusted friend, it must be true. I find this uncritical view of internet information disappointing, and an indication that everyone needs increased media literacy.

MIL Activity 6.4

What are the risks and challenges teachers are likely to face in using social networking for educational purposes?

The risks are less than the challenges.

One risk that teachers need to take is to share more of the power in the student-teacher relationship. Students who are given opportunities to exercise their critical thinking skills and abilities to assess and select will usually commit more to a learning activity, as well as learn ancillary skills, such as reflection and responsibility. Some teachers find loosening their control over the selection and processing of activities very difficult, almost impossible. Taking this risk will almost always improve learning.

One challenge can be runaway success. Sometimes students take activities so seriously that they don’t want to stop when new curriculum needs to be studied. Teachers need to find ways to allow enjoyable activities to continue, possibly outside of class time.

Another challenge can be organizational, where teachers need to know where student materials are stored and can be accessed so that projects can be stored and re-started to fit timetables and to assess and evaluate student work.

Security can be another challenge. Some websites have better security and storage, so that students can be confident that unwanted eyes and hands do not hack their work. Students need to design strong passwords, then remember them so they are not blocked from their own content.

A recent challenge has emerged in the form of copyright. Student work is creative and copyrighted to the student, yet some websites claim copyright over their work. Some websites even use student work to promote the websites’ products, thus monetizing student-made texts without either their consent or recompense. This phenomenon provides teachers with opportunities to help students understand copyright, business models and ethics.

MIL Activity 6.3

> In your Learning Journal, list 3-5 interactive multimedia tools, and briefly explain how each of them could enhance learning in the area that you teach.

Popcorn is a video annotation tool that allows users to add notes and links to existing online videos. Demos of the tool can be found at

An exciting application for Popcorn to media literacy learning could involve students annotating videos to demonstrate their knowledge of their codes and conventions, values and audience uses. Specifically, students could download procedural videos and add annotations to extend viewers’ understanding of the processes. They could annotate promotional videos/commercials to extend viewers’ understanding of selling strategies and target audiences. They could annotate scenes from narrative video to extend viewers’ understanding of their codes and conventions as well as aesthetic qualities.

Storify is a curation tool that allows users to select a variety of WWW items, including videos, Tweets, images, then sequence and annotate them with their own textual commentaries. Storify encourages research, selection, sequencing, reflection, writing and sharing.

Google Earth allows students to virtually visit any earthly location. It provides a satellite’s eye view of any place on earth, although higher quality images occur in more urban areas. It DOES allow students to gain an appreciation of distances, locations, and the characteristics of differing locales. Google Earth images can also be integrated into Storify presentations.

> Also in your Learning Journal, provide an overview of about 200 words, explaining the criteria that seem to be used experts in this field (based on your research), comparing this to your personal view about what is needed for an interactive learning tool to be most useful in teaching and learning environments.
My criteria for interactive learning tools:
flexible to accommodate a variety of learning styles and stages of intellectual development
forgiving so that students do not have to be too specific in their uses and responses
must work as promised first time tried or students will abandon them
interactivity must be compelling rather than silly or condescending
scalable to accommodate both simple and complex uses
encourage or facilitate student reflection on learning
In my research for online criteria, there were few, if any, listings of criteria so much as lists and examples of interactive learning tools. One listing did mention ‘authenticity,’ something that I only made tangential reference to in my fourth criterion: “interactivity must be compelling rather than silly or condescending.” There are way too many inauthentic student activities, and one strength of new media is the potential to offer authenticity.

MIL Activity 5.4: Advertising and the political arena


Canada’s government has allowed the broadcasting industry to self-police via the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Voluntary Code of Advertising Standards (  The code does not indicate sanctions, nor have any been exercised beyond asking offenders to withdraw their ads.


The Code is quite explicit regarding misrepresentation and liable, but excludes ‘political and election’ ads from its guides. Therefore, Canada does not have regulations regarding political advertising.


This is unfortunate, because the governing Conservative Party has lowered itself to personal attacks on each of the Leaders of the Opposition for several years. Using  video codes and conventions to smear each successive leader, the Party has bullied each one out of office.


See and



These occurrences are unfortunate, and make people wonder at the quality of democracy in Canada. Specifically, if the ruling party cannot meet its opponents at the policy and legislative level of debate, and has to resort to personal attacks, is that not an indication that its ideologies are suspect?

Canada needs a strong, national, government-funded agency that will monitor ALL communications (television, radio, publications, internet) to apply coherent rules. It needs strong, speedy and public sanctions, including against governmental agencies and political parties.

MIL Activity 5.3 Proposing a PSA

OUTLINE FOR a media literacy PSA


• Objectives: determined by you and meant to satisfy the goals of the client and explain the purpose or function of the campaign.

to motivate awareness, reflection and action in people to acquire and use media literacy skills in their lives

Creative – an explanation of your ideas where you describe how the objectives can be met; Technical – what media can be produced, and in what way, to meet the client’s objectives.

a multi-media campaign, print, online, radio, TV; all staying on message to encourage people to grow skills to deal with information overload

Audience: Who is your target audience? Who do you need to reach? Provide a detailed description of your audience (e.g., age, gender, race, class, nationality, how familiar they are with this form of media).

everyone who uses media, but especially those who use it heavily and those who are concerned about their media use in some way

Text: Overall message of the campaign which must be tied to objectives and the creative strategy noted above (e.g., point of view, story line, images of men and women, language, costumes, behaviour of characters).

The radio, print and video messages will contain a plain every-person who is beleaguered by aneveryman onslaught of messages in high and low gibberish voices as well as music and SFX. IN the video versions, the info will take the forms of beautiful birds, small airplanes, wasps and butterflies. After 10 seconds of info assault, the info will drop to background and there will be a calm male/female voice, Sound-over: “Do you find today’s information flow challenging?” The figure pauses and looks at camera. “Wouldn’t it be great to skillfully navigate it, confidently selecting and using the info that is best for you?” Figure crosses its arms.  “You can, with media literacy. We are the Association for Media Literacy. Check us out at”

Production: Outline for what needs to be produced. This must be tied to your technical strategy. Consider locations, camera work, sound, voice over, special effects, graphics, animation etc.

simple b/w line drawings on gray background. sophisticated sound/music mix

Industry/Business Component: Explain and defend choices as to where and when you would telecast your PSA.

buy time on talk radio; TV news and public affairs; ads in news magazine, newspapers, subway posters

all locations where people are consciously consuming information

MIL Activity 4.4

Using still images, create a sequence of 6 images to convey the importance of your community to a particular audience.
As the theme of Unit 4 is languages, I have decided to explore how Toronto is represented through different languages.
This first image shows Toronto from the International Space Station, courtesy of Commander Chris Hadfield’s tweet. There is little colour in Toronto’s winter. The meaning of this image is dependent on languages of line and shape. The Lake Ontario shoreline is clearly visible, as are an airport, highways and the rivers that have cut ravines through the city.
The second image is also an aerial view, but drawn rather than photographed. It displays the heritage cities that were amalgamated to create the current city. This map uses colours, lines and labels. Its meaning is weak to anyone who came to live in Toronto after the amalgamation because they wouldn’t really care about the heritage cities as much as the one they live in now.
The next image is a modified skyline taken from high in the air, but not aerial. It was posted to a commercial real-estate agency site. Some buildings have been colour-coded:
  • WHITE = the project has had preliminary renders, but no application has been submitted.
  • RED = the project has submitted an application to the city
  • GREEN = the project has been approved, but has yet to start construction
  • YELLOW = the project is currently in sales
  • BLUE = the project is currently under construction (

This is not the current skyline, but the proposed and potential skyline that real estate investors can use to plan their investments. It is a very particular version of the cityscape of interest to a small group of people. It uses the language of colour to help speak the language of investing.



This image represents the city through its underground subway system. It uses colour to indicate the subway lines. It also uses one of Toronto’s many languages to label the subway stops. There are at least two separate languages working to represent Toronto.
This image is a drawing of Dundas Square, one of Toronto’s main tourist attractions. It uses colour and perspective to make the square look exciting, especially in the storm-clouded sky. Even though Dundas Square contains wall-to-wall advertising, the artist has obscured all the ads in the drawing except one.
Toronto enjoys a wonderful summer, and there are festivals planned for every summer weekend that move from neighborhood to neighborhood. It is a time for citizens to enjoy each other and the great weather.
This high-angle photo uses colour and perspective to show the crowd. It was taken under an overcast sky, which softens the colours and the shadows.
This last photo illustrates one of Toronto’s greatest treasures: its tree canopy. The buildings, tourist attractions and festivals are great, but the generously-treed neighborhoods are great to live and walk in.
This photo is taken from the pre-historic shore of Lake Ontario looking towards downtown. It shows the treed neighborhoods north of the downtown towers.
Toronto looks differently using different languages to serve different audiences.