Marching into the age of Web 3.0 and knowledge society, media and the Internet are playing an influential role in everyday life and continue to affect and transform human’s habits in acquiring, sharing and analyzing information. Media education hence is becoming increasingly important in terms of promoting professional learning and teaching of critical information consumption. The Fourth International Conference on Media Literacy: Multidisciplinary Approach to Media Literacy Research and Practice held in Hong Kong at 5-6 November boosted and marked the field into a new stage.
More than 70 local and overseas academics and educators from over 10 countries around the globe, including Czech Republic, Sweden, India, Japan, Singapore, Mainland China, Taiwan and the US and so on, participated in 10 panels of the conference. Within the two-day conference, around 50 papers were presented, in which half of them were from Mainland China. Participants had rich academic exchanges on media literacy amongst numerous disciplines, such as education, communication studies, journalism, cultural studies, language, arts, new media, health communication, etc.
Besides panel paper presentations, there were two forums focusing on media education. At one of the forums, not only did participants share their views on media education, they also moved on to discuss about the future of Media and Information Literacy (MIL). Noteworthy is that, during the conference, the Chinese version of UNESCO’s “Global Media and Information Literacy Assessment Framework: Country Readiness and Competencies” was introduced by faculty members of the Communication University of China and Dr. Kwame BOAFO, the International Communication and Information Consultant of UNESCO Office Beijing. This marks a milestone that, this framework is officially launched in Mainland China and will greatly enlighten further research.
Another important forum put its emphasis on discussing media literacy as a field. Academics, educators and participants shared a common view that media literacy is a growing academic field, since there have been quite a number of fruitful publications, conferences and academic activities being launched throughout the years around the world. But there remains room for development before media literacy becomes an established academic discipline.
(Photo 1. Plenary speakers, honorable guests and chairmen of the conference take photo at the kick-off ceremony)
Apart from the forums and panel presentations, plenary speeches and special talks also enriched the conference with speakers’ inspiring sharing of their knowledge and expertise. For instance, Dr. Donna Chu from The Chinese University of Hong Kong discussed the implications of media and technology changes for media literacy and the challenges of teaching students on media production. Prof. Andrew Burn from the University College London suggested that we should shed light on creative media production in the field of media education. Such cross-medium and cross-disciplinary practice will benefit the linkage between elite and popular culture. From a critical point of view, Prof. Ellen Seiter from University of Southern California brought forth the challenging fact that we are facing the exponential expansion of media conglomerate, such as Google, in different social aspects. Situated in such context, she highlighted her special concerns of brain health among young media users. Media literacy curriculum is regarded as useful for guiding young people to face the challenge of the digital era.
(Photo 2. Dr. Donna Chu shares her views at the conference forum)
(Photo 3. Prof. Andrew Burn delivers his plenary speech at the conference)