TMC7 Brooks Kirkland

Advocating for Digital Media Literacy: A Comprehensive Approach 

by Anita Brooks Kirkland

This article was written for publication in Synergy, the journal of the School Library Association of Victoria, Australia. Published on the TMCanada blog for TMC7 with permission.

This article summarizes key points in the recent research report published by MediaSmarts (Brisson-Boivin, K. & McAleese, S., 2022), From Access to Engagement: A Digital Media Literacy Strategy for Canada. Representing Canadian School Libraries, Anita attended the MediaSmarts stakeholder symposium that informed this report. Participants in the stakeholder symposium emphasized the importance of supporting community-based programs for all ages and audiences, but we were also reminded that students’ right to education means they also have a right to digital media literacy instruction in school. At the same time, data from MediaSmarts’ Young Canadians in a Wired World studies indicate that students feel they do not receive this instruction consistently. Anita’s article takes up that point, and proposes strategies for school library learning commons programs to address the inequities highlighted by MediaSmarts’ research. 

MediaSmarts Report Key Points and Takeaways

Full Report: Brisson-Boivin, K. & McAleese, S. (2022). From Access to Engagement: A Digital Media Literacy Strategy for Canada. MediaSmarts. Ottawa.

MediaSmarts’ Director of Education Matthew Johnson will be presenting this report at TMC7.

Anita Brooks Kirkland is the Chair of Canadian School Libraries and co-editor of CSL Journal. She is a past president of the Ontario Library Association and the Ontario School Library Association. Professional interests focus on information literacy, the virtual library, action research, and the role of the library learning commons. Anita draws on her extensive experience as a teacher-librarian and as a teacher educator, both in her previous roles as the library consultant for the Waterloo Region DSB and as an instructor in teacher-librarianship for the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto.

Read the Paper.


  1. Anita (and MediaSmarts),
    Thanks for producing this report. As both someone who has participated in collecting research for the YCWW inquiry, and as a member of the Association for Media Literacy, I have a particular interest in this topic.

    The Digital Media Core Competencies diagram on page 3 is good. Where is the portion where production is included in addition to use? In this interactive age, people are "prosumers" (producers and consumers) and I have found as a media literacy teacher that it is often when students are actively creating media texts that they can access and understand the messages and codes/conventions they employ. Further along in the paper, it's mentioned that students produce but often for social purposes. With modeling and prompts by school library professionals, they can extend this creation beyond social goals.

    It's ironic, Anita, that on page 4, you rhetorically ask "If we do not attempt to understand the impact of algorithms on how we receive information, for example, how can we teach information literacy?" This is the focus of my instruction for this term (fall 2022) with the hope of producing documentation for the Media Education Summit (hosted by Bournemouth University [UK] in Vancouver, BC in March 2023). I'd love to chat with Matthew about this further!

    I must have been channeling your thoughts when I responded to David's TMC7 paper when you said on page 5 "Internet technology has changed radically since the days when we relied on the CRAAP
    method (Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose) for example, to check sources."

    Thanks again for bringing digital literacy / media literacy to the forefront.
    Diana M

  2. Hi Diana, so sorry I took so long to reply. I've been very busy getting everyone else's papers up on the blog - now I'm able to participate!

    I'll start with your question about MediaSmarts' core competencies. They have included production under Engage. "Engage is the ability to make and use media tools to express yourself and participate in online and offline communities. Engaging with digital media is more than knowing how to use a word processor or write an email: it includes being able to adapt what we produce for various contexts and audiences; create and communicate using rich media such as images, video and sound; reflect on the social and political implications of media and use media tools for community engagement and social activism; and effectively and responsibly engage with Web 2.0 user-generated content. The ability to engage using digital media ensures that Canadians are active contributors to digital society.[3]" ( I agree with you, that TLs can model such engagement, and integrate the use of media for academic and personal expression into learning.

    LOVE that you are working on algorithmic literacy - would love to learn more about the program you're involved in.

    I can't tell you how pleased I am to see David's STIC model, and am about to join that conversation!

  3. This one is worthy challenge. Just before lunch, let's all probe STICs and mirrors. it should be lots of fun.

  4. Hi Diana, "Create" was actually one of the core competencies in the previous iteration of our model. When we moved to an integrated digital media literacy framework (rather than focusing just on digital literacy) we decided it made more sense to integrate Create into the Use and Engage categories (to reflect that creation is one of the most common uses of media tools, and that much creation is done as a form of civic or community engagement.) However Making & Remixing is still one of the essential topics we cover from K-12:

    1. Matthew, thanks for answering and elaborating. If I have any more questions, what's the easiest way to reach you?

    2. Hi Molly, sorry I missed this post! You can reach me at .

  5. Hi Anita and Matthew, I'm very much looking forward to hearing about the report in person. I absolutely agree with the need for a nationwide digital media literacy strategy. It is crucial that we understand that as a nation we are on the same page when it being a digital citizen. It is increasingly clear that adults, as well as kids, need this as the technologies and information have changed so rapidly. As Canada investigates regulations of the tech industry, it also has to recognize that an educator piece is needed because technology will always be bypassed!


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