UNDERSTANDING MEDIA LITERACY: INSIDE PLATO'S CAVE, AN ONLINE COURSE FOR TEACHERS AND PARENTS FROM ATHABASCA UNIVERSITY

Introduction and Overview


Created by Canadian Media Educators, available online from Athabasca University


The thirteen units that make up the online course were written and field tested by members of the Canadian Association of Media Education Organizations (CAMEO). Founded in 1992, CAMEO is an association of Canadian media literacy groups from across Canada. The goal of CAMEO, through its member organizations, is to advocate, promote and develop media literacy in Canada.

Media literacy is a mandated part of the curriculum across Canada, yet there is very little training available in either undergraduate studies or through professional development.  This project is designed to meet that need.

For detailed information on the course, schedules, and registration please visit the website for the Athabasca University Communication Studies Program



Inside Plato’s Cave    Why the Title?

In The Republic, Plato describes a group of people who have lived in a cave all their lives. They are chained in such a way that they can only look straight ahead. A fire burning behind them throws light at the cave wall in front of them. Between the fire and the prisoners, men walk along a platform carrying all sorts of figures of people and animals and various objects.  The prisoners see only the dancing shadows on the wall and hear only the echoes of voices of people they never see.

Plato meant this as a parable about the limitations of our world view, and the need to imagine more than we see in front of us. It also serves as a good description of television, or any other media. We need to better understand who and what creates those flickering shadows.    If we and our students watch carefully and think critically - skills which come from being media literate - our understanding of the media and our perceptions of the world around us will expand; our knowledge will be based in substance rather than shadow.


What is Media Literacy?


 A media literate person is one who has an informed and critical understanding of the nature, techniques and impact of the mass media, as well as the ability to produce media products.  Students in today’s world need this literacy more than at any other time in human history. Our challenge, as teachers, is to remain current and critical in our knowledge in a world characterized by accelerated change in media and media artifacts.