Learner 1C: Stay current with research that supports improved student learning outcomes, including findings from the learning sciences.
As an educator it is important that I stay current with research that supports improved student learning outcomes, including the learning sciences. For this reason, I use the CRAAP test to evaluate research prior to considering what implications it may have for my instructional practice. In the reflection that follows I discuss my thoughts about implementing media literacy prior to reading the article and what changes I made to my instructional practice as a result of the research. This practice is also how I pursue my professional learning goals.
Research on UDL and Media Literacy to Inform and Improve Professional Practice
Both digital literacy and media literacy involve competence in diverse modes of communication and information in digital form. Digital information is a powerful tool in the implementation of the Universal Design for Learning curriculum design framework, because it can easily be modified and enhanced to account for different learning styles, interests, and strengths. To understand the potential of these connections, Dalton examines the core principles of UDL, the essential competencies for digital and media literacy, and the core principles of media literacy education. While the article provides a strong representation of the universal design for learning curriculum design framework and how it overlaps with the core principles and competencies of digital and media literacy, Daltons discussion of the implications for teaching and learning is limited by broad generalizations and references to outside sources for guidance. In her article, Dalton discusses how the core principles of UDL--Multiple Means of Representation and Multiple Means of Action and Expression--relate to the first three NAMLE principles.
First, different forms of media drive active inquiry and critical thinking about messages. Second, expanding the definition of literacy to include all forms of media creates more options for representing information and expressing learning. Finally, building media skills for all ages builds capacity to achieve Multiple Means of Representation and Action and Expression. Dalton connects Multiple Means of Engagement, the third core principles of UDL, to the remaining NAMLE principles. She explains that effective design accounts for multiple means of engagement by providing options for self-regulation and recruiting interest. Each time the learner constructs personal meaning from media they develop as expert learners. Expert learners have a strong interest and connection to what they are learning which enables them to become informed and reflective citizens in a democratic society. The connections between both sets of principles can inform and further the development of effective instructional design to better reach all students. To ensure the broadest range of students benefit from digital and media literacy education, Dalton discusses barriers to equitable access and accessibility for the essential competencies of digital and media literacy (Hobbs, 2010). By leveraging accessibility tools and implementing the core principles of UDL, Dalton concludes it is possible to attain equal access to digital and media literacy for the broadest range of learners.
Prior to reading this article I thought it would be difficult to integrate media and digital literacy into my instructional practice because of the demands of existing curriculum. Now I see the potential for growth in classrooms that make space for teaching medial literacy concepts through the application of UDL principles. First, each time the learner constructs personal meaning from media they develop as expert learners. Expert learners have a strong interest and connection to what they are learning which enables them to become informed and reflective citizens in a democratic society. If the goal of public education is to prepare students for life, changes to classroom instruction that have the potential to positively impact the decision making skills of adolescents are worth exploring. Second, participation in a democratic society requires media and information literacy skills. As such, students need opportunities to develop the essential skills and competencies to practice active, critical consumption of media and integrate different types of media to create digital displays of information that communicate ideas worth sharing. Finally, by simply expanding one's definition of literacy to include all forms of media (e.g. text, audio, video, interactives, and hyperdocs, etc.) educators expand the number of available resources at their disposal to integrate UDL and media literacy practices in the classroom.
Implications for Teaching and Learning
As a result of reading this research I created a professional learning resource about media literacy in K-12 that elementary and secondary educators in the county can utilize to begin thinking about natural places in their existing curriculum where they can integrate digital and media literacy. The professional learning module encourages elementary and secondary educators to expand their definition of literacy to include all forms of media. Educators begin by reflecting on what they know about media literacy education and identifying what they hope to learn more about. To begin to define media and information literacy, educators explore the principles that define MIL education. To connect MIL to teaching and learning, educators explore curated collections that showcase digital tools and instructional strategies that support MIL education as well as ideas for implementing MIL across the content areas.
In conclusion, there are several natural connections between the principles of UDL and media literacy discussed in Beyond Universal Design for Learning: Guiding Principles to Reduce Barriers to Digital & Media Literacy Competence. In the wake of the pandemic, it can be difficult to be persuade educators to adopt additional changes to their instructional practices. However, this research provided a strong rationale that has helped me see beyond the common barriers such as time and the demands of existing curriculum to embrace the possibility of reaching the broadest range of learners and share that vision with other educators.
Dalton, E. M. (2017). Beyond Universal Design for Learning: Guiding Principles to Reduce Barriers to Digital & Media Literacy Competence. Journal of Media Literacy Education, 9(2), 17–29. https://doi-org.cmich.idm.oclc.org/10.23860/JMLE-2019-09-02-02