The Association for Media Literacy is made up of teachers, librarians, consultants, parents, cultural workers, and media professionals interested in the impact of the media on contemporary culture.
Media literacy is an educational initiative that aims to increase peoples’ understanding and enjoyment of how media work, how they produce meaning, how they are organized, and how media construct reality. AML is concerned with helping people develop an informed and critical understanding of the nature of media, the techniques used by media industries, and the impact of these techniques. Media literacy also aims to provide people with the ability to create their own media products.
The AML has members from across Canada, throughout the United States, and from around the world. Our international membership is particularly strong in those English-speaking countries where the educational system has given some priority to media literacy, notably England, Australia and Scotland as well as the U.S. Our members and guest speakers at AML events include internationally renowned media educators such as John Pungente, SJ, of Canada, Len Masterman and David Buckingham of Great Britain, and Robyn Quin and Barrie McMahon of Australia.
Founded in 1978, The Association for Media Literacy was the first comprehensive organization for media literacy teachers in Canada. AML Ontario has helped establish several other provincial media literacy organizations, all members of the CAMEO national network (Canadian Association of Media Education Organizations).
The AML serves the needs of its members through a variety of services:
• AML provides a network for media literacy teachers throughout the world.
• Several of our executive members have published student textbooks widely used in Ontario and throughout Canada.
• AML publishes an online newsletter for its members.
• AML organizes workshops and conferences.
• AML publishes support material for teachers.
• AML lobbies and communicates with government, school boards and the media industry about mutual concerns.
Among its initiatives, the AML:
• was involved in planning the first ever National Media Literacy Week, along with the Canadian Teachers Federation, Media Awareness Network (now MediaSmarts) and CAMEO. Media Literacy week is a follow-up initiative to the CTF 2003 survey Kids’ Take on Media.
• offers Additional Qualifications courses in Media at York University.
• supported the genesis of sister organizations in most Canadian provinces and their umbrella organization, CAMEO
• originated the concept and purpose of the Media Awareness Network, now Media Smarts (http://www.mediasmarts.ca/)
• hosted national and international media education conferences and created several resources
• developed Think Literacy documents for the Ministry of Education, which provide teachers with strategies for teaching media literacy in Language Arts and English classrooms.
• consults with the Ministry of Education on curriculum development and revision for the elementary and secondary panels.
Ontario was the first educational jurisdiction in the world to mandate media literacy as part of the English curriculum, largely as a result of AML lobbying.
In the back-to-basics climate of educational reform in Ontario, the AML has successfully lobbied for a media studies component in the elementary language curriculum, as well as a media studies strand in every English course at the secondary level. Ontario elementary teachers now report separately on students’ media literacy learning and there is a stand-alone Media Studies credit at the grade 11 level. Several Toronto District Schools also offer Media Studies at the grade 12 level, also as a result of AML efforts.
The AML has also been involved in lobbying against draconian copyright legislation being proposed by the federal government that would have a chilling effect on teacher and student access to media texts in the classroom. This legislation was successfully stalled for many years, but passed in May of 2012. AML is monitoring its reception and ramifications.