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MediaEd Forum

MediaEd Forum

Interdisciplinary Challenges: A Forum for Dialogue and Discussion 

In this strand, we will foster collaborative opportunities to address the social, cultural, economic, and practical questions we face. We start with why scholars, teachers, librarians, and media practitioners aim to improve media literacy education in different ways. We then consider how we sometimes find ourselves in institutional or community-based settings where we need to explain, define, defend, advocate, and/or apply our knowledge and talents. The various interdisciplinary ‚Äúhomes‚ÄĚ of media literacy provide us with both opportunities and challenges.¬†

The purpose of this strand is to bring us together to discuss our interests and to find ways to learn from each other.  Through presentations and discussions with the speakers and conference-attendees, you will be invited to reflect on your work. You will consider the motivations, strategies, and activities of local and global colleagues. We raise questions about the nature of knowledge, the skills needed to be media literate; the ways we can support empowering students in interdisciplinary/ extra-disciplinary settings; ways to promote engaged and community scholarship; and then share expert advice regarding strategies and opportunities for obtaining funding to achieve our collective goals

Session 1: Engaged Research Friday, January 12, 12pm EST | 5pm GMT | 10:30PM IST.  

Session 2: Games for Media Education Friday, January 12, 1pm EST | 6pm GMT | 11:30PM IST.  

Session 3: Empowering Students through Media Creation Friday, January 12, 2pm EST | 7pm GMT | (Sun 01.13.2023) 0:30PM IST. 

Session 4: The Role of Knowledge in Media Literacy Education Saturday, January 13, 7am EST | 12pm GMT | 5:30PM IST. 

Session 5: Scaling Media Literacy in Challenging Contexts Saturday, January 13, 8am EST | 1pm GMT | 6:30PM IST.

Session 6: Grants & Funding Saturday, January 13, 9am EST | 2pm GMT | 7:30PM IST. 


View a detailed conference schedule


Strand Facilitator: Barbara Burke

Barbara BurkeBarbara is an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota Morris. Her research explores online community building, and the reciprocal nature of media messages and ideas about identity. She earned her MA in Telecommunication Arts from the University of Michigan, and her MA and PhD in American Studies from Purdue University. In addition to working in mass media, she has taught at Ivy Tech Community College (Indiana), has been a Guest Instructor at the University of Iceland, and a Fulbright Scholar at Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences (Latvia).


Session 1: Engaged Research 

Friday, January 12, 12pm EST | 5pm GMT | 10:30PM IST.  

According to Campus Compact: Engaged scholarship (ES) can be defined as scholarly activities focused on the social, civic, economic, educational, artistic, scientific, environmental, and cultural well-being of people and places beyond the academy. It involves the creation and dissemination of new knowledge to address social issues through collaborative relationships and shared activity between those in the university and those outside the university. What does Engaged Research mean for Media Literacy scholars?  How might we start to do it?  What are successful examples/ models we can consider? What areas of social life might be appropriate to address?

Michael A. Spikes Dr. Michael A. Spikes serves as a lecturer and program director of the Teach for Chicago Journalism program in the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Michael's experience is focused on news media literacy, both its teaching and its use in various classrooms and learning environments.


Sisanda Nkoala Dr. Sisanda Nkoala is a senior lecturer in the Department of Communication Science at the University of South Africa. Dr. Nkoala holds a PhD in Rhetoric Studies from the University of Cape Town, where her research focused on the persuasive aspects of television news reports about crime and justice. She currently serves as an appeals tribunal member of the Film & Publication Board, is a former Board Trustee of Brand South Africa, a public representative on the South African Press Council, the Vice President South African Communication Association (SACOMM), the Vice Chair of the International Association of Media and Communications Research (IAMCR) Media Education Research Section and an Associate Editor for the Journal of Communication Technology. She is a former award winning journalist and a multi-award winning researcher.


Alison TropeDr. Trope is a Founder and Director of the Critical Media Project (a free media literacy web resource designed to raise critical awareness about media representations of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, socio-economic class, religion, ability and age). (See and also a past Board member of NAMLE (the National Association of Media Literacy Educators Professor Trope is the author of Stardust Monuments: The Saving and Selling of Hollywood (Dartmouth, 2012).


Session 2: Games for Media Education 

Friday, January 12, 1pm EST | 6pm GMT | 11:30PM IST.  

This session engages participants  in a dialogue on the use of games to address social issues concerning youth. This War of Mine is the first educational game to be implemented in the Polish national core curriculum for language, ethics or social studies lessons. Developed by the Polish commercial video game studio 11 bit, this immersive experience is putting players in the shoes of war survivors. The game can be used inside and outside the classroom. It has been played in museums as part of an educational exhibition. One of the developers of This War of Mine, Pawel Miechowski will describe the different design stages, its impact, and potential of utilizing video games in the classroom. 

Konstantina Yaneva, data science student at Harvard Extension School will describe her project to develop a game to fight disinformation and how data science can help us better design games for educational purposes. The Misinformation Game is an immersive narrative-style game for children aged 9-12. It is part of an educational program designed to foster scientific reasoning and enhance media literacy. By merging entertainment and education, we aim to develop impactful in-class learning tools.

During the session, participants will be provoked to think and reflect on the unique benefits of this interactive game and its unique storytelling techniques. By the end of this interactive dialogue, participants will be able to better understand how research-based gamification can benefit educators and learners addressing concerning social issues.  

Pawel MiechowskiPawel Miechowski has been in Polish games industry for over 20 years, worked on around 30 titles, including This War of Mine, Frostpunk, Anomaly series and more. He's been taking part in different roles: development, writing, communication and marketing. Largely to be blamed for expanding 11 bit studios' mission in supporting educational institutions.


Konstantina Yaneva


Konstantina Yaneva is a Columbia University graduate in Political Science and Human Rights, currently pursuing data science studies at Harvard Extension School. With a diverse range of interests, she specializes in freedom of expression research, disinformation, and big data analysis. Her passion lies in facilitating knowledge access and promoting digital literacy for others, recognizing the crucial role of information in shaping a connected and informed global community.


Session 3: Empowering Students through Media Creation 

Friday, January 12, 2pm EST | 7pm GMT | (Sun 01.13.2023) 0:30PM IST. 

From climate change to race and gender, from abortion rights to ideological division, we live in difficult times. In my recent university textbook, ‚ÄúStudent-Created Media: Designing Research, Learning, and Skill-Building Experiences,‚ÄĚ I describe how student-created media assignments can be a catalyst for engaging with complex issues in the classroom, but the ultimate benefits are the long-term transformative effects from these projects. Is there a role for the educator in preparing students interested in being change agents to consider actionable steps beyond the classroom? If so, what are the limitations of the educators' role in inspiring post-classroom student activism within organizational and societal constructs? What are some effective approaches (e.g., positive propaganda, social media savvy, social entrepreneurship, etc...)?


Scott SpicerScott Spicer is the Media Outreach Librarian (Associate Librarian) for the University of Minnesota Libraries. In this role, he serves as head of Library Media Services, a program dedicated to the support of course integrated student media projects and media resources, with an emphasis on media literacy skill set development and authentic learning experiences. Scott Spicer is the author of Student-Created Media: Designing Research, Learning, and Skill-Building Experiences (2022). He holds an MLIS from Dominican University & an MA in Curriculum and Instruction (Learning Technologies) from the University of Minnesota.


Session 4: The Role of Knowledge in Media Literacy Education 

Saturday, January 13, 7am EST | 12pm GMT | 5:30PM IST. 

Raising questions about knowledge in a conference presentation about media literacy may seem needless to the majority of scholars engaged in a field. It would seem to be self-evident that young people need to "know" a range of things in order to be considered media literate. However, in some parts of the world, most notably those with nationalized curricula, the relationship between knowledge and media literacy is a complex and highly politicized one. This session raises questions about the nature of knowledge  and skills needed to be media literate, and the way that we characterize these phenomena within media education. Rather than this being a purely academic or philosophical debate, I want to argue that these questions are fundamental for thinking about the way that  curricula might be developed in schools , particularly in jurisdictions  such as Australia, New Zealand, Scotland and Northern Ireland which have chosen to build media literacy into their National Curricula. 
Key questions for the session will include:

  • What do we want students to know if we want them to be media literate?
  • How is this different (if at all) from what we want them to do when they are media literate?
  • What kinds of theoretical perspectives might help us think about the status of knowledge in media literacy curricula?

Many of these ideas are amplified in the presenter's forthcoming book "Knowing and Knowledge in Media and Film Studies" which will be published by UCL press in 2024.

Steve ConnollyDr. Steve Connolly worked in a range of London secondary schools for almost twenty years, teaching English, Media and Creative Arts subjects and occupying a number of roles as a middle and senior leader. For much of this time, he was also an active researcher, completing both his MA and PhD in Media Education at the Institute of Education, UCL.  Dr. Connolly currently works at the School of Education and Social Care at Anglia Ruskin University, where he does research in Media Literacy, Curriculum and Learning processes in Secondary Education. Current projects include "Knowledge and Knowing in Media and Film Studies" and "Curriculum Theories in Media Education".


Session 5: Scaling Media Literacy in Challenging Contexts

Saturday, January 13, 8am EST | 1pm GMT | 6:30PM IST. 

IREX works to promote more just, prosperous, and inclusive societies around the world, including
through media literacy efforts that aim to build resilience to manipulative information across all levels of society. This panel will introduce participants to IREX’s Learn to Discern (L2D) approach to media literacy and how we foster information integrity and resilience in various global contexts through innovative, localized engagement with citizens, communities, and organizations. This session will showcase IREX projects from around the world that are working to scale media literacy initiatives and civic participation. Teams from Ukraine and North Macedonia will share their perspectives, approaches, and unique challenges for scaling media literacy in times of war and democratic uncertainty. Specifically, we will focus on our efforts to scale media literacy education at a national level in both Ukraine (L2D-Ed) and North Macedonia (YouThink) through curricular integration, teacher training, network development, and bridging formal and informal education. Panelists will discuss the opportunities and challenges of strengthening and socializing media literacy education on a national scale, while developing the capacities of local partners and navigating conflict and instability.

Jocelyn Young

Jocelyn Young is a volunteer team member with the Media Education Lab. She also works with the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX) supporting global programs that focus on media literacy and civic participation. She has previously worked in strategic communications for several nonprofits and holds a B.A. in Communication from the University of California, Davis, as well as an M.A. in Statecraft and International Affairs from the Institute of World Politics. Her graduate research included topics such as digital political communication and the history of extremist movements around the globe. Jocelyn also has a special interest in countering polarization, violent extremism, and democratic backsliding through media literacy and civic education.


Alan BerryR. Alan Berry is technical advisor for media and information literacy at IREX and a doctoral candidate at the University of Maine. Mr. Berry also serves as the Pennsylvania state advocacy leader for Media Literacy Now and on the editorial advisory board of the Journal of Media Literacy Education. His work has been published in JMLE, The Media Education Research Journal, Javnost- The Public, and Teaching Media Quarterly, and he is the co-author of a chapter on critical race news literacy education in Critical Race Media Literacy: Themes and Strategies for Media Education (Routledge, 2022) and author of a chapter on media literacy through community partnerships in Power Lines: Connecting with Teens in Urban Communities Through Media Literacy (ALA, 2022).


Olena TaranenkoOlena Taranenko ¬†is a capacity-building manager of the IREX Learn to Discern (L2D) in Ukraine program. She is responsible for the development and adaptation of L2D training materials and curricula for pre- and in-service instructors, teachers, decision makers, journalists, IDPs, refugees and the general public. Olena is an experienced media expert, trainer on media literacy and interactive teaching methodology, the editor and co-author of curricula, interactive guides, online courses on media literacy integrated in education, journalism, professional development, which were developed in L2D during 2019-2023. She is a Ph.D. in Philology, an associate professor in journalism, and the author of more than 60 scientific articles on communicative and media studies. Participant of the working groups of the Ministries, on the development of the National Media Literacy Strategy, moderator of professional discussions. She is the author and the host of the podcast ‚ÄúLife in a cupboard‚ÄĚ (¬ę–Ė–ł—ā—ā—Ź –≤ —Ā–Ķ—Ä–≤–į–Ĺ—ā—Ė¬Ľ, 2023) that analyses the Soviet propaganda rituals and attributes enshrined in the everyday life and holidays of the Ukrainians. Prior to joining IREX, Olena worked as the head of the journalism department in Vasyl‚Äô Stus Donetsk National University.¬†


Yuliia MarhasovaYuliia Marhasova is a legal professional with a strong academic background in public international law, and a passionate advocate for media literacy and critical thinking. Her interest in these fields stems from her belief in the power of reliable and accurate information, critical thinking, and effective communication to address complex challenges. During her internship for the United Nations in Geneva, Yuliia gained valuable experience that reinforced her belief in the importance of media literacy and critical thinking. This experience, combined with her passion, led Yuliia to join IREX Ukraine‚Äôs Learn to Discern program in July 2021, where she has been working to improve media literacy skills among higher education instructors and volunteers who work with displaced people. Currently, Yuliia is actively leading the coordination of a pioneering project‚ÄĒan online course dedicated to the integration of media and information literacy into school education. In her capacity as coordinator, she participates in the strategic development and implementation of this initiative. Her focus on empowering educators underscores her dedication to equipping the next generation with essential media literacy skills.


Maryna DoroshMaryna Dorosh is a Senior Technical Advisor of the Learn to Discern project at IREX in Ukraine. Maryna leads the implementation of a media literacy program that has to date reached more than 80,000 school students, as well as supporting journalists, civil servants, and the public in countering disinformation. Also, Maryna focuses on curriculum development and integrating media literacy into educational materials and designing trainings for educators and the public. She is experienced in the journalism and NGO sectors. She worked as an editor of the Ukrainian website MediaSapiens (2014-2018) and is a co-creator of Media Driver, an online media literacy manual for teenagers (Detector Media, 2016), in addition to working on Detector Media’s News Literacy e-course (2017). Ms. Dorosh has a master’s degree in journalism from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv and a master’s with distinction in Strategic Communications from King’s College London.


Dejan DokuzovskiDejan Dokuzovski is the project director for the USAID-funded media literacy project YouThink in North Macedonia. Dejan has 10 years of development experience in civic engagement, youth, and good governance. He specializes in providing support, guidance, and mentorship for vulnerable and excluded groups, specifically young people and the LGBTI community. From 2012 to 2017, Dejan worked with government institutions and civil society to provide capacity development and technical support as part of the United Nations Development Programme. He has served as a senior grants officer, and then deputy chief of party on different USAID-funded programs. Dejan holds a bachelor’s degree in international law and a master’s degree in humanitarian affairs. He is passionate about strengthening the interconnections between humanitarian relief and development aid and supporting efforts to build resilient communities using local resources.


Session 6: Grants & Funding

Saturday, January 13, 9am EST | 2pm GMT | 7:30PM IST. 

Applying for grants and securing funding is increasingly an essential part of conducting research and engaged scholarship.Panelists in this session will discuss: some sources of grants related to media literacy/digital literacy/ information literacies, media studies and/or journalism: how to go about the process of finding and applying for international project support; and ways to articulate your goals (matching your goals to those of funding sources) when applying for grants.


Keegan Scott Keegan Scott is an Outreach and Recruitment Officer with the Fulbright U.S. Scholar program. As a Fulbright U.S. Student alumni to Bulgaria (2017-2020) and a former EducationUSA Turkey intern, he is passionate about international exchange and education. Keegan holds an MA in Eurasian, Russian, and East European studies with a Diplomatic Studies certificate from Georgetown University, and speaks Bulgarian and Turkish.


Karen MarkinKaren M. Markin is the director of research development at the University of Rhode Island. She is an authority on obtaining federal grants, has presented sessions on grant writing to national scholarly societies, and published columns on grant writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education. She holds an MA in Journalism from The Ohio State University and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.


Melissa SpirekMelissa Spirek is a Full Professor at Wright State University (Ohio), and has received over 36 national and international awards for research on affective responses to mediated messages. To date, she has generated over 16 million (US) dollars in grants, including an American Experience grant and a million dollar grant with PBS. She received her MA in CommunicationTheory and Methodology from Bowling State University and her PhD in Communication and Media Studies from Purdue University.