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MLI explores Meaningful Media Literacy at Annual Conference.

The 2022 MLI Annual Conference took place in Cork on the 15th December 2022, courtesy of MLI members Trend Micro.

Marking five years since MLI was established, the conference theme of ‘Meaningful Media Literacy’ offered a moment of reflection about where we are now, how we got here and most importantly, where we go next.

It was a busy schedule with over 20 speakers participating on the day, in person and online, expertly emceed by MLI co-Chair, Stephanie Comey. The number of speakers and contributors is testament to how MLI has grown and evolved. A recording of the full conference is available to view online.

The first speaker was Lynette Owens, Vice President of Global Consumer Education and Marketing in Trend Micro, who along with the rest of the Trend Micro team, made us feel extremely welcome.

Lynette outlined the work that Trend Micro has been doing in this area for many years. Following Lynette, MLI co-Chair Brian O’Neill reminded us of some of our achievements of the last 12 months. Watch this video for a reminder.

Then it was over to the first panel discussion of the day chaired by MLI Steering Group member Ricardo Castellini da Silva. The theme of the panel was making media literacy meaningful for young people. Panelists included Ann Harte from CybersafeKids who spoke about their new course Developing Digital Media Literacy for Teachers and Youth Workers. 

Jane McGarrigle from Webwise focussed on building educator competence and confidence and the resources produced by Webwise including the new CPD courses for teachers in digital citizenship and cyberbullying. Charmaine McGowan from Safefood Ireland highlighted the MediaWise eduction resource for Primary schools while Avril Ronan from Trend Micro talked about Cyber Academy for Kids and the ‘What’s Your Story’ Competition which is open until January 10th . Another initiative currently inviting applications is the PressPass initiative which was presented by Lisa Buckley from NewsBrands Ireland.

By the end of the panel discussion we had collected a treasure trove of suggestions for meaningful media literacy initiatives and approaches for children and young people.

The conference format then changed a little with a series of three presentations that were short in duration but deep in content.

The first presentation was from Fay Lant of Ofcom’s Making Sense of Media team. Fay outlined Ofcom’s approach to promoting media literacy based around the pillars of Research, Engage, Initiate, Establish and Evaluate.

Next was Orla Egan who presented her report on Community Media and Media Literacy on behalf of the Community Television Association. While on the subject of Community media, sincere thanks to MLI members Cork Community Media Hub who generously volunteered to document the event.

The final speaker in this section was Nuala Dormer from Competition and Consumer Protection Commission who presented the headline findings from the recently published ‘Online Behaviour Influencer Marketing’.

Before lunch MLI team member Lucy Cuddihy presented the new MLI website to the audience and encouraged all MLI members to explore and use the MLI member section, and of course, update passwords! Incoming MLI Steering Group member, Máire Aoibhinn Ní Ógain, then presented the Irish language version of the website, including the newly published Irish Language Glossary. Ricardo Castellini Da Silva was also on-hand to demonstrate the newly developed Training and Development section of the MLI website which offers users the option of learning more about media literacy; find training courses on media literacy; find teaching resources or look for information or stories about media literacy.

Finally, the big reveal of the conference was delivered by incoming Steering Group member Anna-Maria Barry who launched the Media Literacy 2023 Awards. Supported by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, the awards aim to raise awareness of the importance of media literacy, recognise the existing media literacy work being undertaken in Ireland and to inspire the development of new media literacy initiatives across the country. There are four award categories and everything you need to know about the awards (including a Comms kit to help promote it) is available on the MLI website.

After lunch, Stephanie oversaw a vote to ratify the election of four MLI members to join the MLI Steering Group in 2023. Current Steering Group members can be found on the MLI website. Congratulations to Ryan Meade from Google who will represent Digital Media / Technology Platforms, Máire Aoibhinn Ní Ógain from TG4 who will represent Public Service Media, Anna-Maria Barry representing Independents and Eileen Morrissey from the Library Association of Ireland representing Information Society.

There was also the traditional ‘rapid-fire updates’ with Deirdre O’Reilly talking about the Cork International Film Festival and Bernie Goldbach highlighting #littlebitoftipp

The highlight of the conference was the Expert Panel discussion, expertly chaired by Prof. Brian O’Neill, with four very notable speakers prompting moments of reflection and inspiration for us all.

Michelle Ciulla Lipkin, Executive Director of the National Association for Media Literacy Education talked about the landscape of media literacy education in the U.S. – where it is being practiced, how it has grown, what are the challenges and opportunities right now in the space and how we see some parallels around the world.

We then heard from Aoife Gallagher, research analyst at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and author of the book Web of Lies: The Lure and Danger of Conspiracy Theories. Aoife explored the challenges around the changing nature of the online world, including the lack of algorithmic transparency, the hybridised nature of mis/disinfo and conspiratorial movements since the pandemic and the impact they are now having.

Following Aoife, Prof. Paul Mihailidis from Emerson College in Boston shared his thoughts about the need for equity-driven media literacies to create meaningful engagement in digital culture. Finally, Dr. Belinha De Abreu, a global media literacy educator and editor of the recent book Media Literacy, Equity and Justice explored global connections, education, and the evolution of technology moving forward.

Finally, Brian and MLI National Coordinator Martina Chapman facilitated a discussion about the future priorities for MLI, finishing up a busy day with a call for all MLI members to email or with any ideas or suggestions.If you attended the conference either online or in-person we would really appreciate if you could take a couple of minutes to give us your feedback by completing this very short online survey.