The Media Literacy Online Project (MLOP) is an ongoing research and development activity from the University of Oregon's College of Education. The project is coordinated by faculty member Gary Ferrington. Bill Walsh, an MLOP contributor, defines media literacy as "an attempt to make each of us more comfortable, more critical, and more conversant in various methods of communication." MLOP's goal is to "make available to educators, producers, students, and parents, information and resources related to the influence of media in the lives of children, youth, and adults."
The "Gateway to Media Literacy" menu divides the site into sections A - D and highlights their resources. Section A includes the Teachers' Desk, Media Literacy Organizations, Professional Collaborations, and Events. Section B is a database of Readings in Media Literacy. Section C covers Media Industry and topical Media Literacy Issues (e.g., media violence, advertising and children, media ethics, etc.) Section D features the Parents Corner. This menu simplifies access to the materials by providing a thorough site overview while focusing browsing on the sections. An AltaVista search engine option is available, but it is not readily apparent what is being searched and how.
MLOP offers original content through contributing writers, but the primary focus is its comprehensive collection of resource links. The resources are useful for both teaching and learning about the media. For example, Teachers Desk caters to media educators with information on lesson plans, guides, instructional materials, standards, assessment and research, media production, educational web sites, and professional development. Media Literacy Issues, on the other hand, has broader appeal, covering topics like advertising in schools, censorship and regulation, teen health and media, and gender in media. As a clearinghouse, the MLOP claims no responsibility for the content or currency of external resources. Suggestions for additions to the lists are encouraged.
Although media education is well-established in European countries and Canada, it has been slower to gain acceptance in the United States. The MLOP was created several years ago in an effort to move media literacy into the mainstream of U.S. education. With its broad coverage and vast number of resource links, the MLOP is a valuable source for students and faculty in education and communication/mass media, as well as anyone with an interest in media literacy.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
September 29, 1999