Media literacy

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Media literacy describes the ability to use media and its content in an expert manner in accordance with one's own goals and needs.


Operationalization of media competence according to Dieter Baacke

Since the 1990s, Dieter Baacke's definition of media competence has gained particular importance; he divided the term into four dimensions: media criticism, media studies, media use and media design. In order to make Baacke's complex system of terms clearer, his description of the differentiation of the term media competence is shown here schematically (see graphic).

Media criticism
should adequately capture analytically problematic social processes. Everyone should reflexively be able to apply analytical knowledge to themselves and their actions. The ethical sub-dimension of media criticism describes the ability to take into account the social consequences of media development.
Media studies
encompasses knowledge of today's media systems. The informative sub-dimension of media studies includes classic knowledge. The instrumental-qualification sub-dimension means the ability to operate new devices. The two aspects of media criticism and media studies comprise the sub-dimension of communication. The sub-dimension of goal orientation lies in people's actions. The use of media plays an important role here.
Media usage
is to be understood twofold: media should be used receptively (program usage competence) and interactive offers should be used.
Media design
represents the fourth area of ​​media competence in Baacke's differentiation. The area of ​​media design includes the innovative changes and developments of the media system and the creative aesthetic variants that go beyond the limits of everyday communication routines.

Baacke theoretically extends the term media competence to the supra-individual, social level. With this goal of differentiation, the term becomes the “discourse of the information society”. Such a discourse includes all economic, technical, social, cultural and aesthetic problems so that it can and must be constantly updated. Baacke's pedagogically justified concept of media competence permanently inspires science , practice and politics .

This overview of the term media competence and the possibilities of conveying it shows that a main aspect emerges: through active (use) use of the media, a critical ability should develop, which can be used to select different media offers. In short: Your own active work with a medium enables its critical use in everyday professional and private life. Dealing with media (both in production and in reception) can be used to critically examine the subject with himself ( raising awareness ) (Schwinger 2005) and thus enable him to new forms of autonomous action.

Media literacy includes:

  1. Know and be able to use media ( books , magazines , radio , television , Internet , etc.) - for example, looking for a book in the library and borrowing it.
  2. Being able to orientate yourself in the media world - for example, find a news program among the various television offers.
  3. be able to participate in media-mediated communication - for example, write a letter to the editor, write in a school newspaper, contribute to an open channel , participate in the Wikisphere .
  4. keep a critical distance from the media - for example, be able to identify commercial or political interests in journalistic articles, cf. Media criticism .
  5. Be creative yourself in the media world - for example, write a blog , design your own homepage , publish a newsletter , organize a demonstration , write a book, organize an exhibition , give a concert , create graffiti , start a wiki , or one Initiate flash mob.

Concept history

The history of the term media competence and its mediation authority media education is shaped by temporarily dominating but not mutually exclusive currents and cycles. These cycles are always an expression of a socio-political context. Originally, the “ mass media ” was the main subject of discussion. As early as the 1920s, Bertolt Brecht (1898–1956) made very specific and pragmatic demands to enable ordinary citizens to use the media. In 1927 he called for the democratization of broadcasting . It was not until the end of the 1960s, in a “socio-politically different time”, that the term “media competence” came up. Hans Magnus Enzensberger demanded, following Brecht, that the population should be there everywhere, including the production of media. In a central point of his theory of the media, he postulates :

“A revolutionary design does not have to make the manipulators disappear;
on the contrary, he has to make everyone a manipulator. "(Hans Magnus Enzensberger)

Enzensberger's publications on the specification of Brecht's demand for the democratization of the media also changed the meaning of the term media competence at the end of the 1960s. The media was seen as a threat many times in the 1950s and 60s; many experts and educators, including Martin Keilhacker , took a basic pedagogical approach. This cautious, skeptical or negative attitude towards television and new media in general was based on the assumption of many educators that the book was the more valuable medium. The aim was therefore to preserve the old cultural values ​​through educational measures; In this context, media competence was understood as the ability to distinguish valuable content from inferior content and to select the right and beneficial content for oneself.

Through action-oriented pedagogy and cultural work in the 1970s and 80s, an attitude that was no longer just defensive towards the media gained the upper hand. The media were perceived in their creative potential for educational socialization. The main concepts that dominated were communicative competence, everyday life , everyday life, authentic experience, active learning and, above all, competence and media competence. Through acting learning in the subject area of ​​social reality, the connection between reflection and action should both acquire and help shape and change reality.

The term media literacy seems problematic because its ambiguity leads to misuse as a description of a set of skills that one must acquire in order to use media properly. According to Vollbrecht, however, it should not be about the acquisition of certain skills, such as the use of a certain computer program, but rather about learning how to acquire any program yourself - that is, about " learning to learn ". Vollbrecht understands media literacy to mean schemes (cognitive structures) that enable people to use media at will (creatively) and not specify a specific action. It is only through such learning processes that the “schemas” can ultimately change themselves and thus further develop media competence.

Since the 1990s, Dieter Baacke's definition of media competence has gained particular importance; he divided the term into four dimensions:

  • Media criticism,
  • Media customer,
  • Media usage and
  • Media design.

In the early 1970s, he made a decisive contribution to the coining of the term media literacy. In earlier writings he used the more general term communicative competence and was critical of the term media competence because he found it to be “empty”. He criticized the fact that the term does not say what media literacy should be concretely imagined and how it should be conveyed.

Baacke basically regards media competence as a variant of communicative competence, since competence is assumed to be innate for every type of communication and thus also for media communication, in the sense of an “ability to appropriately adapt to the world also all types of media for the communication and action repertoire to be used by people “As a successor to Baacke, Peter Lokk has expanded the term in particular to include participation, media criticism and imparting practical usage skills in relation to the new media .

Schiersmann et al. (2002, 19) tried to “specify the concept of media literacy, to clarify its dimensions and to relate central content-related discourse strands to one another”. For them, media competence is made up of "three complementary components:

  • Competence in handling and using (media, ICT ) technology
  • Competence in the design of socio-technical systems with the help of (media, ICT) technology
  • Competence to knowledgeable criticism of (media, ICT) technology. "(Op. Cit., 64)

On the basis of key questions ("What, ie which subject area is being discussed in more detail?", "Why media competence?" And "How do you prove competence?") You then position the different conceptual assignments in a conceptual space.

Bernward Hoffmann divides media literacy into four further sub-aspects:

  • The personal reference describes the sensual and affective perception and the experience of media influences on the individual. Its maturity towards the media should be trained in order to understand the nature and conditionality of media, as well as to see through them.
  • As a second key competence in today's information society, Hoffmann presents the social reference. Media competence must not only be projected subjectively onto the individual, but must be seen in the context of society and its groups (economic, social, cultural).
  • Hoffmann mentions the inclusion of information from the media and thus the usage aspect - receptive - as the third important aspect. Media are an important social reference system for people, with the help of which the comprehension and understanding of the world can be simplified. It is therefore necessary to find one's way around the diversity of the media in order to make use of it.
  • This is achieved by the subject through actively participating in everyday media life. This aspect of action should be taken up by the subject in order to make the media usable as a tool for their own social interests.

In an analysis of over one hundred definitions of media competence, Gapski (2001) shows that in the examined word clarifications, different dimensions or levels are usually differentiated in order to make the complex term describable. For example, Aufenanger (1997) defines six dimensions of media competence, while Groeben (2002) names seven dimensions of media competence “which offer an optimization of the degree of differentiation and integration value” and are intended to “integratively” cover previous media pedagogical models.

On the basis of an analysis, summary and structuring of relevant definitions and developments of the term media competence, Bernd Schorb defines media competence as "the ability to acquire media on the basis of structured, comprehensive knowledge and an ethically sound assessment of the media appearance and content, with them critical, enjoyable and to deal reflexively and to shape them according to their own content and aesthetic ideas, in social responsibility as well as in creative and collective action ”. This definition describes the essential content areas of media literacy that need to be promoted in order to “shape the comprehensive process of media acquisition as a conscious and reflective action”, namely

  • Media knowledge,
  • Media rating and
  • Media dealings

- Dimensions, which in turn are further differentiated by him. Schorb thus establishes a connection between media competence, which is central to media education, and the concept of media appropriation, which is relevant for communication studies, and closes a gap between these two concepts. Furthermore, in this development of Schorb, the pedagogical concept of reflexive-practical media acquisition and the method of active media work are applied, which expands the spectrum of media pedagogical practice.


Taking into account Gerhard Tulodziecki's ideas for schools, the operationalization of the concept of media competence by Dieter Baacke and media aesthetic standards, practical media competence for the important audiovisual area is defined according to a triadic model with the following communication goals :

  • Ability to communicate actively
    Learning and applying specific means of expression and design and journalistic methods; Ability to actively communicate with audiovisual media from planning and research through production and design to the ability to distribute own audiovisual products.
  • Knowledge of the technical and organizational conditions
    Ability to deal with the technical conditions ( camera , sound , light , editing , dubbing, broadcasting of contributions) and the organizational conditions from the written definition to public relations and the organization for the distribution of one's own media products.
  • Competent reception
    Sensitization of one's own perception and the ability to filter and competently analyze audiovisual information with the intention of critical and emotionally distant perception; Communication of format and genre knowledge.


According to Gapski, “media competence” has long ceased to be an exclusive term in the specialist media-pedagogical discussion, but a social construct with certain functions in the media society that are conveyed through the media. In the game of political, legal, educational, technical or economic discourse, a different understanding of media competence prevails depending on the actor and context. In this respect, different discourses of media competence can be traced, some of which interpenetrate or refer to one another and in which the term is formed, adapted and framed. Depending on the context, the term fulfills different communicative connection functions. Positioning media competence as a key concept in the knowledge society, however, means reflecting on delimitations: on those with regard to the frames of reference and carriers, the social target group areas, the diverse media and forms of use, the discourses and the observation perspectives.

Bleckmann and Hübner consider the concept of media competence as a media-educational target variable because of its arbitrariness as a plastic word. It would like to replace it with media maturity as the goal of a media pedagogy that starts with the person developing to autonomy and examines when the media encourage him and when they hinder him.

Media literacy and school

According to Vollbrecht, media competence is also understood as competence to act , which means that the medium itself is no longer necessarily the focus of consideration. As educational media, media retain their importance as a mediation aid , the adequate use and selection of which are an essential part of lesson planning.

Concrete learning objectives:

  1. to recognize the interaction of differentiated media design means, to integrate diverse media experiences into one's own lifestyle in a socially compatible way, to theoretically reflect on the possible effects of media offers and to classify them in life contexts.
  2. To independently include media offers in solving complex teaching-related tasks, to develop the aesthetic experience using different media offers, to recognize and apply effective media research as the basis for scientific work,
  3. To be able to plan, realize and present media production independently, to find and use individual means of expression in the production of media
  4. to recognize and assess the role of the media as an economic factor, to understand media as an indispensable, constitutive element of modern society and to reflect in a complex and critical manner the function and significance of the media in society.

These conclusions have implications for media education .

The use of smartphones and the like in schools is controversial. For example, the media reported in November 2017 that the Bavarian Ministry of Culture regards its ban on smartphones, laptops and cameras, provided they are not used for teaching, as an effective protection against cyberbullying, but many teachers, parents and pupils call it derogatory "Stone Age education" .

Media literacy and new media

The term media literacy is used in common parlance for many different competencies and is often not used in a sufficiently differentiated manner. The "competencies in a digital society" can be divided into:

  • Information and knowledge
  • Communication and cooperation
  • Identity search and orientation
  • Digital realities and productive action

In these areas, a variety of competence discussions to impart individual IT skills overlap. As early as 2005, a proposal was made in Austria to include IT skills with dimensions of media competence under the term e-skills .

With regard to Anja C. Wagner's dissertation UeberFlow, Philippe Wampfler describes three areas of competence:

  1. Self-regulation, self-organization and self-reflection enable informal learning in the context of Web 2.0; they lead to »curiosity and creativity, initiative and autonomy, the ability to learn, a sense of responsibility, tolerance of frustration, improvisational skills and a willingness to take risks«.
  2. Internet competence that is made up of media literacy or media literacy, »media-specific analysis, evaluation and content development skills« and the ability to contextualize information.
  3. The skills listed under 1. and 2. are used in heterogeneous social contexts. The decisive factor is therefore the competence to be able to communicate problem-related in flexible environments without giving up one's own autonomy.

The European Union is taking up the topic as part of the Safer Internet initiative and the Insafe network that was initiated .

See also


  • Katja Bett, Joachim Wedekind, Peter Zentel: Media skills for university teaching . Waxmann, Münster 2004, ISBN 3-8309-1372-9 .
  • Matthias Bickenbach, Harun Maye: Metaphor Internet. Literary education and surfing. Kadmos, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-86599-089-1 .
  • Heinz Bonfadelli (ed.): Media competence and media services in the information society. Pestalozzianum Publishing House, Zurich 2004, ISBN 3-03755-027-9 .
  • Harald Gapski: media literacy. An inventory and preliminary considerations for a system-theoretical framework concept. Wiesbaden 2001, ISBN 3-531-13606-2 .
  • Norbert Groeben (ed.): Media competence. Requirements, dimensions, functions. Juventa-Verlag, Weinheim 2002, ISBN 3-7799-1350-X .
  • Bernward Hoffmann: Media Education. An introduction to theory and practice. Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn 2003, ISBN 3-8252-2421-X .
  • Franz Josef Röll: Pedagogy of Navigation . Kopäd-Verlag, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-935686-51-X .
  • Christiane Schiersmann, Johannes Busse, Detlev Krause: Media competence - competence for new media . Study commissioned by the Education Forum, 2002. (Download as PDF; 965 kB)
  • Annette Schriefers, Sandra Bischoff: Media Competence - A task takes shape . Kopäd-Verlag, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-935686-56-0 .
  • Philip Scherenberg: Critical Media Perception. Foundation of a practical media ethics. LIT Verlag, Hamburg 2006, ISBN 3-8258-9448-7 .
  • Michael Schwinger: “You can even be a photographer.” Media educational work with Brazilian street children . IKO, Frankfurt 2006, ISBN 3-88939-785-9 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Baacke 1997, pp. 98f.
  2. ^ Franz Josef Röll: Pedagogy of Navigation. 2003.
  3. Schwinger 2005.
  4. Vollbrecht 2001, p. 57f.
  5. Vollbrecht 2001, p. 58.
  6. Baacke, quoted in Vollbrecht 2001, p. 56
  7. Peter Lokk: Using computers: writing, designing, organizing and communicating with the PC. Bonn 1996.
  8. Bernd Schorb: media competence. In: Jürgen Hüther, Bernd Schorb (Ed.): Basic concepts of media education. kopaed, Munich 2005, p. 262.
  9. Bernd Schorb: On the importance and realization of media competence. In: Bernd Schorb, Niels Brüggen, Anke Dommaschk (eds.): With eLearning on media competence. Models for curriculum design. Didactics and cooperation. kopaed, Munich 2007, p. 19.
  10. H. Gapski: media literacy. An inventory and preliminary considerations for a system-theoretical framework concept. Wiesbaden 2001, ISBN 3-531-13606-2 .
  11. ^ P. Bleckmann: Medienmündig . Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2012, ISBN 978-3-608-94626-0 .
  12. ^ E. Hübner: Media and Pedagogy. Aspects of understanding the media, basics of an anthroposophical-anthropological media pedagogy . DRUCKtuell, Stuttgart 2015, ISBN 978-3-944911-16-8 .
  13. ^ U. Poerksen: Plastic words. The language of an international dictatorship. 7th edition. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2011, ISBN 978-3-608-93614-8 .
  14. Vollbrecht, 2001, p. 79.
  15. Paul Detlev Bartsch, 1999, pp. 259f.
  16. ^ Moritz Baumann: Cell phone ban at Bavaria's schools on the brink. In: Spiegel Online. November 23, 2017. Retrieved November 25, 2017 .
  17. BMBF 2010
  19. Anja C. Wagner: UeberFlow, User Experience in User-Generated, Digital Learning Environments - Scope for Global Education. Dissertation at the University of Kassel, p. 108ff.
  20. Philippe Wampfler: How Schoolchildren Use Social Media. In: Facebook, Blogs, and Wikis at School: A Social Media Guide. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2013, ISBN 978-3-525-70165-2 , p. 78ff.