Media literacy refers to the ability to “critically read and creatively produce academic and professional communications in a range of media” (JISC, 2014). Digital media may include formats such as podcasts and videos, and various forms of text-based content, including blogs, discussion forums and even social media. Online learners need to be able to read a variety of types of online content, listen to podcasts, and/or watch videos, and extract meaningful information. They need to understand the difference in how to approach writing a journal article vs. a blog post vs. a tweet, and how to tell stories and convey information in a podcast or video format. In order to succeed online, learners must be able to consume and create content in the various forms of media offered by the online space.
Throughout the MOOC, learners are expected to demonstrate media literacy. While much of the course content is delivered via text-based content, learners are also expected to learn using additional media formats throughout. Each module starts with a video from the main instructor, in which she explains what to expect in the module, and guest videos are also used to explain concepts in several areas of the course. Slideshows are used to reinforce concepts a few times, and the course links out to external websites on several occasions. The MOOC also expects learners to contribute to the course through a variety of media; several reflection activities ask learners to find images, videos and external websites that support a specific concept.
Despite the MOOC requiring learners to exercise media literacy, there is a relative lack of content in the MOOC that helps learners explicitly gain this skill. While some of the following elements may seem like very basic media literacy skills, the MOOC could easily introduce learners to:
- The basic features of a video player, including how to make a video full screen, turn on closed captioning, use subtitles in a variety of languages, and adjust playback speed
- Common repositories of videos, such as YouTube and Vimeo
- Image copyright (i.e. explaining how to know which images found on the internet are okay for common use, and which are not)
- Approaches for creating content in different media formats