March 2020: M-Passioned Member Lara Burton

What do you do?
I work at University of Louvain (Belgium) as a teaching assistant. This means I am teaching students part time at the School of Communication and conducting research part time in the Knowledge Mediation Research Group (GReMS). My PhD is about media practices of young adults (aged 25-30) who participate in a civically minded group. I study the way they use media and technologies to cultivate their knowledge and to inform themselves, to collaborate within their group and among other civic groups, and to mediate their activities and actions.

Lara Burton

Tell me about your latest work or project in media literacy.
My latest theoretical work about media literacy aims to clarify its link to the concept of participation through the comparison of Renee Hobbs’ digital and media literacy model with Fastrez & De Smedt’s media literacy model.

At a more practical level, I am in discussion with the mediation and media education section of RTBF (Belgian Public-Service Broadcasting Organization) to organize a master thesis and internship about their media education activities (embracing teacher trainings, and visits and workshops aimed at pupils and students in compulsory education).

Why is media literacy important to you?
Media literacy emphasizes the importance of media and technologies within our societies. I grew up watching cartoons and TV series, experimenting with visuals and audio using Windows Paint and Sound Recorder, and asking for ADSL Internet access to my parents so that I could chat with my friends. Nowadays, as for many people, media and technologies are an unavoidable aspect of my everyday life. Media literacy helps us to better understand the many ways in which people, learners, teachers, and citizens are taking part in our highly mediated society, and how they can benefit from these media and technologies.

What are you most excited about in the media literacy field?
The media environment and practices are changing very quickly, making it sometimes stressful to study, but also captivating! Media literacy asks ourselves – researchers and teachers – to be curious, adapting our methods and contents to these never stopping evolutions. I am particularly interested in practices serving the common good and the proper functioning of democracy, integrating the actors’ perspective in the definition of the competencies.

Why did you become a NAMLE member, what benefits do you see to membership, and how will it support your work?
I presented a paper at NAMLE’s Conference in 2017 in Chicago. There, I have been warmly welcomed by many members of the association and attended very interesting presentations. Since then, I followed the newsletters, projects, and educational devices mediated through NAMLE’s channels. This organization is an inspiration for my own country, being a broad national association aimed at promoting media education. There are so many themes to develop, educational approaches to discover, opportunities to take, and media literacy experts to work with! NAMLE brings all of it together.

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