Context Matters: Teachers Talk Media Literacy in the Classroom (Sakshi Bhalla, Michelle Nelson, & Michael Spikes) 
International Communication Association 2023 Conference – Toronto, CA
May 25-29, 2023

Research on media literacy has predominantly focused on pedagogy or interventions. Our study offers a departure from this earlier work by examining how social structural aspects such as age and socioeconomic status shape the teaching and understanding of media literacy and media. Through 20 semi-structured interviews this study explores the lived experiences of teachers and educators actively engaged in teaching media literacy across the US state of Illinois. Two major themes emerged from the data. First, teachers and high school students live in completely different media worlds, uniquely shaping their understanding of media and media literacy. Second, the socio-economic context of the school shapes the kind of media literacy that is taught. The ways in which teachers cope with these distinctions in the classroom suggest the need for developing bottom-up media literacy approaches which speak to the contexts in which individuals experience media. Given that media literacy has become a weapon of choice in a polarized media environment, this study offers implications for how media literacy is understood by a young and emerging adult population, as well as for the study of how this shapes their media use.

It’s the (unfunded!) Law: How High School Teachers Define and Teach Media Literacy (Michael Spikes & Michelle Nelson)
National Communication Association 2022 Conference – New Orleans, LA
Session title: Media Mastery: Redefining Media Literacy in the Digital Age
Fri, 11/18: 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM CST

This panel aims to exchange ideas on redefining media literacy to better reflect the contemporary media landscape. Not only will new definitions of media literacy be proposed, but the way in which media literacy is valued and applied given various political, economic, educational, and technical developments will also be discussed. Submissions include in-depth interviews with teachers and students along with leading scholarship on navigating and classifying media in a tumultuous political landscape. This panel will focus on creating an objective conceptualization of media literacy that can be used as a guide given the demands of the rapidly unfolding digital age.