Transform the Way You Teach with PBS Media Literacy Certification

Susan Lehman started the process of becoming a PBS Media Literacy Certified Educator last summer. A 20-year veteran English teacher, she initially viewed certification as a way to bring more digital learning tools to her classroom. Instead, the process transformed her teaching in ways she’d never imagined.

“I saw that certification offered a method of instruction that was more far-reaching,” said Lehman, who teaches juniors at Novato High School in the San Francisco Bay Area.

This certification builds upon educators' existing strengths to reach a new level of practice.

That’s because PBS Media Literacy Certification by KQED was designed to reflect an educator’s current instructional practice and stretch it in new directions. Instead of sitting through a prescribed training series, educators earn a stack of eight micro-credentials by submitting evidence of their own learning and classroom teaching, such as lesson plans, assessment tools, student work samples and instructional media they create. Each micro-credential adds a piece to the total media literacy puzzle, demonstrating that the educator can analyze, evaluate, create or share media and effectively teach students to do the same.

Once educators earn all eight micro-credentials via the Digital Promise platform, they become PBS Media Literacy Certified.

“The process of becoming certified changed the way I taught science and engineering,” said Merek Chang, who teaches chemistry and biology at William Workman High School near Los Angeles. “One of the micro-credentials I earned was "Evaluating Online Information.” The micro-credential helped walk me through the process of teaching students how to evaluate resources online.”

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Chang then asked students to evaluate two online articles on the origins of Covid-19. The results reinforced the importance of bringing source evaluation into his science classes.

“I was surprised to see what little experience students had in evaluating online sources, and how they struggled to identify the evidence-based article over the other,” said Chang. “It showed me that media literacy is not only important in English classes but in all subjects.”

And all grade levels, too. Traci Piltz, a district technology integration specialist in Billings, Montana, found that the first and second graders she worked with while earning PBS Media Literacy Certification were eager to analyze media as viewers and producers.

“As a part of the (certification) process, we discovered that young learners can understand and apply these concepts as they view and produce media,” Piltz said. “Students utilized safe search engines for inquiry and copyright-free images to create original videos to showcase their learning.”

Amy Westrope, who teaches second grade in the same district as Piltz, agrees that younger learners need media literacy support. But so do teachers, especially as they guide students through the challenges of a global pandemic.

“In a normal year, we know how much our students are surrounded by technology and media, but during this pandemic, students are interacting with technology more than ever. It is imperative that we as teachers give them skills to use and understand media in a positive and productive way!”

“Becoming PBS Media Literacy Certified makes sense for any teacher who is teaching right now!” Westrope said. “In a normal year, we know how much our students are surrounded by technology and media, but during this pandemic, students are interacting with technology more than ever. It is imperative that we as teachers give them skills to use and understand media in a positive and productive way!”

Having students produce media is a key part of PBS Media Literacy Certification. All the PBS Media Literacy Certified Educators described how empowering it is for their students to create media to demonstrate learning and share their voice beyond the classroom.

“I had some of my students talk about climate change in KQED's most recent youth media challenge, Let’s Talk About Election 2020,” Chang said. “It inspired me to find more lessons in which students can share information through infographics or video. This not only demonstrates student understanding of content but also helps them share what they learned with an authentic audience.” (The Let’s Talk About Election 2020 challenge is open through January 2021.)

Educators can start earning PBS Media Literacy Certification today. It is free with no seat time required in order to get started. Educators submit their own teaching materials, reflections and instructional media to earn micro-credentials via the Digital Promise platform. Professional learning support for strengthening media literacy skills as an educator is available through free online courses in KQED Teach’s Media Academy for Educators.

Learn more about how to become a PBS Media Literacy Certified Educator.