Delaware’s State Board of Education is in the process of drafting standards that align with a new state law requiring schools to teach media literacy.
At its monthly meeting Thursday night, Alyssa Moore, education associate for digital learning at the Department of Education, presented proposed standards to the board.
The legislation, known as the “Digital Citizenship Education Act,” requires the Department of Education to develop and maintain evidence-based media literacy standards for school districts and charter schools serving students in grades kindergarten through 12.
“Media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create and take action with all forms of communication,” Moore said, “and encompasses the foundational skills of digital citizenship and internet safety including the norms of appropriate, responsible, ethical and healthy behavior and cyberbullying prevention.”
All standards and materials curated by the department need to address appropriate, responsible and healthy online behavior.
With the massive presence of social media and internet use, the law aims to make sure people, especially young impressionable citizens, have the knowledge to navigate through misinformation, scams and dangerous behaviors.
“Digital citizenship goes along with [media literacy] and is the diverse set of skills related to current technology and social media including the norms of appropriate, responsible and healthy behavior,” Moore said.
The standards presented were broken into 13 key components of media literacy:
- Purpose and acceptable use of different social media platforms.
- Understanding negative impact of inappropriate technology use, including online bullying and harassment, hacking, intentional virus setting, invasion of privacy, and piracy of software, music, video, and other media.
- Social media behavior that promotes cybersafety, cybersecurity, and cyberethics, including etiquette, safety, security, and identification of hate speech.
- Identifying credible sources of information.
- How to access, analyze, evaluate, create and participate in all forms of digital communication.
- Understanding how media messages shape culture and society.
- Identifying target-marketing strategies and naming techniques of persuasion used.
- Recognizing bias and misinformation by discovering parts of the story that are not being told.
- Evaluating media messages based on personal experiences, skills, beliefs and values.
- Explicit and implicit media messages.
- Values and points of view that are included and excluded.
- How the media may influence ideas and behaviors.
- The importance of obtaining information from multiple sources.
Moore said Instructional technology specialists, media specialists, the Council on Educational Technology, librarians, community members and others contributed to creating the standardt.
Members of the board asked if these standards were composed by the department.
“There are some curricular standards that are already adopted, that teachers have already been working with for years that are aligned to these elements,” Moore said, “and then there are also some standards that will be new that we need to adopt.”
The law officially went into effect Aug. 29, 2022, but did not mandate a deadline for schools to implement the curriculum.
However, the law does emphasize the need for media literacy, citing several studies and data such as a Stanford University report that showed 96% of high school students surveyed lacked the skills to judge the reliability of information online, and two-thirds were unable to tell the difference between news stories and ads.
The same study found that 91% of teachers believe digital citizenship is effective in helping students make smart, safe and ethical decisions online.
After some other questions about how these standards would show up in curriculum, Moore confirmed that it can be woven into many different disciplines, like English language arts, and especially history and civics.
It is not a prescriptive curriculum, but rather ways of teaching information that will include the standards of media literacy.
“We wanted it to be interwoven across potentially all content areas and subjects, that’s ideal,” Moore said, “because it mirrors their real lives, media literacy and digital citizenship spans everything that we do day in and day out.”
For the full draft of state standards relating to media literacy curriculum, click here.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
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