Media and Information Literacy has been a constant buzzword in education for the last decade, if not longer. Yet, in the new Finnish curriculum from the year 2016 even another term arose - multimodal literacy. It is a broad and varied learning goal, which almost all educators should take into account in their teaching in Finland.
In short, multimodal literacy consists of not only traditional literacy skills like reading and writing but also the ability to understand and produce information in many other forms, such as numeric or interactive presentations, graphs, images, videos and games. And the educational goals don’t end there: being literate in many forms of information means also the ability to critically assess the quality and reliability of the information. The reader should be able to separate facts from fiction and trustworthy sources from unreliable ones.
Many teachers, who have followed the change of the media and technology landscape in the 21st century, will surely be nodding approvingly - the kids need to be prepared for it. At the same time, they may feel terrified as this preparation is not going to be easy! Yet, some parts of the multimodal literacy skills seem to come naturally to kids. The technology provides more and more easy-to-use tools for producing, mixing and sharing information, and therefore the kids are actively using them with their peers. However, when there is a lack of interpretation skills and critical assessment, it is likely to form views, which are simply incorrect: memes and satire are abundant in the internet, but they are not easy to interpret in a right way, while fake news, made-up facts and polarized argumentation don’t make the task any easier.
The solution for the teachers is to offer age appropriate material, which focuses on the issues happening in the real world, and explain, why some sources of information are more trustworthy than others. Traditional news publishers sometimes offer kid-friendly content, but there are other effective tools available as well. A good example is Minushu, a media start-up based in Spain, the creator of Nushu AR EDU which provides current news in interactive and kid-friendly style. The news is delivered in comics, and the augmented reality activities engage children to reflect on the content. The mix of images, text, interactives and games all provide trustworthy information in different formats. It’s a safe playground for children to get interested in the events happening in the world around them, building a base for critical thinking in the later age.
by Saila Juuti
Head of UX at Kokoa