A research team from the Centre for Excellence in Media Practice (CEMP) at Bournemouth University (BU) has received funding from the UK government to provide a new media literacy evaluation framework.
The funding has been awarded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) as part of the government’s Online Literacy Media Strategy, which aims to empower people to stay safe online by being able to critically evaluate what they see and read on the internet.
Building on previous projects for the British Council, BBC Media Action and the Global Challenges Research Fund, CEMP will work with the Media and Information Literacy Alliance (MILA), using a theory of change to measure the difference media literacy makes to people’s lives.
This will include the way people engage differently with media, changes to their media behaviours, and how they use their media literacy for positive actions in the world.
A key shift in thinking, this recognises that reducing online harms in the UK needs not only a more media literate population, but also for media literate citizens to take positive actions in the digital environment, thereby improving the health of the media ecosystem - in a similar way to how a vaccine reduces the danger of a virus.
Professor of Media and Education Julian McDougall, who is leading the project, said: “It is very important that media literacy has been recognised by DCMS as a frontline response to online harms and misinformation and CEMP are delighted to have been awarded this funding.
“Our theory of change and evaluation framework will go further than any media literacy metrics in the UK have before because our four elements can account for the who, why, what and how of media literacy and, crucially, with what results for society?
“We will, as a result, be able to work with MILA to deliver a transferable and sustainable framework and methodology that can not only be used to measure the impact of media literacy projects across the country but also to inform their future design.”
More than £1 million has been granted to 17 UK organisations by DCMS to pilot new ways of boosting media literacy skills.
Research shows some people struggle to engage and benefit from the range of media literacy education on offer, due to limited experience or overconfidence in using the internet, as well as a lack of awareness of how to access resources and their unavailability outside of schools and colleges.
Digital Secretary Michelle Donelan MP said: “With the rise of online disinformation, teaching people to identify fact from fiction has never been more important to public safety.
“As well as bringing forward new laws to tackle the root causes of these problems, we are funding organisations to give people the skills to stay safe online so everyone can benefit from all the internet has to offer.”