British Columbia

This section comprises a curricular overview of digital media literacy in British Columbia’s curriculum.

The left menu contains curriculum charts for Grades K-12 that feature media education outcomes for BC Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies, Arts Education, Career Education, Français langue première, Français langue seconde – immersion, English Language Arts, Mathematics, Physical and Health Education, Science, and Social Studiescurricula, with links to supporting MediaSmarts resources and lessons.

Last updated January 2024

Curricular overview

British Columbia rolled out an entirely new curriculum framework in 2016, with changes impacting every subject and every grade. The new curriculum acknowledges the fast-paced changes of our digital age and the importance of explicitly teaching appropriate, safe, and responsible use of information and communication technologies. To prepare students for this reality, the Ministry consulted with experts to design a curriculum that “maintains a focus on sound foundations of literacy and numeracy while supporting the development of citizens who are competent thinkers and communicators, who are personally and socially competent in all areas of their lives. British Columbia’s redesigned curriculum honours the ways in which students think, learn, and grow, and prepares them for a successful lifetime of learning where ongoing change is constant.”

The curriculum framework for Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies, English Language Arts, and Social Studies contains particularly strong media education components.

Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies “is an experiential, hands-on program of learning through design and creation that includes skills and concepts from traditional and First Peoples practice; from the existing disciplines of Business Education, Home Economics and Culinary Arts, Information and Communications Technology, and Technology Education; and from new and emerging fields. It fosters the development of the skills and knowledge that will support students in developing practical, creative, and innovative responses to everyday needs and challenges.” In particular, the grades 6-9 curriculum emphasizes digital literacy, including safety, citizenship, law, and ethics.British Columbia's English Language Arts curriculum was also redesigned in 2015, with the K-9 curriculum rolled out in 2016 and the 10-12 curriculum from 2017 and 2019. The aim of the curriculum is “to empower students by providing them with strong communication skills, an understanding and appreciation of language and literature, and the capacity to engage fully as literate and responsible citizens in a digital age. Students are guided in their learning to think critically, creatively, and reflectively; to construct a sense of personal and cultural identity; and to be respectful of a range of perspectives and worldviews.”  To this end, media education outcomes have been included throughout the curriculum’s curricular competencies and overall Big Ideas.

The Social Studies curriculum recognizes that students can access information on nearly any topic from all around the world, and that “this access to information of uncertain quality and accuracy makes it more important than ever to teach students the skills needed to gather, assess, analyze, and synthesize information and ideas from multiple sources. Once students have gathered and analyzed information, they will use it to solve problems, make decisions, and communicate their ideas effectively.”  To this end, media education outcomes have been integrated into the curricular competencies, particularly in the major historical and geographical thinking concept of Evidence, and in the Big Ideas. Overall, there is an explicit emphasis on how to “ask questions, corroborate inferences, and draw conclusions about the content and origins of a variety of sources, including mass media”.

Media Education in the Core Competencies

In 2016, British Columbia replaced its cross-curricular guide with three Core Competencies – Thinking, Personal and Social, and Communication – and media education continues to be foundational to cross-curricular learning developed through these competencies.Defined by the BC Ministry of Education as “sets of intellectual, personal, and social and emotional proficiencies that all students need in order to engage in deep, lifelong learning,” media education is also foundational to the Core Competencies. Media education is of particular relevance to the Thinking competency through Critical and Reflective Thinking, and the Personal and Social Competency through Personal Awareness and Responsibility and Social Awareness and Responsibility.

BC’s Digital literacy framework

In 2015, the British Columbia Ministry of Education drafted the BC Digital Literacy Framework for use alongside its revised curriculum. The framework acknowledges that our technology-based world necessitates digital literacy, which it defines as “the interest, attitude and ability of individuals to use digital technology and communication tools appropriately to access, manage, integrate, analyze and evaluate information, construct new knowledge, and create and communicate with others.” Grounded in the 2007 International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standards for Students, the framework includes six characteristics:

  1. “Research and Information Literacy: Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information
  2. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making: Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources.
  3. Creativity and Innovation: Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology
  4. Digital Citizenship: Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior
  5. Communication and Collaboration: Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others
  6. Technology Operations and Concepts: Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.”

BC’s Digital Literacy Framework offers a specific and explicit idea of the knowledge and skills that digitally literate students possess. It outlines the expectations for students at different grade levels, providing guidance regarding the specific outcomes that students should master at each state of their educational development.


Introduction to British Columbia’s Redesigned Curriculum

Core Competencies

BC’s Digital Literacy Framework