In addition to reading, writing and computing, media technology skills counts as the fourth 'cultural skill', and is an integral part of day-to-day living. The ability to communicate effectively and navigate a world pervaded by media has become a mandatory part of one's general education. At ZESS, the acquisition of media skills denotes more than learning how to operate various gadgets (so-called 'press-the-button skills'), but rather being able to comprehend and assume a critical stance towards media communication.
The term 'media skills' has been in use since the mid-90s and finds usage particularly in the academic sphere. Since the introduction of 'media skills', however, society has come a long way from CD-roms and 56k-modems and has rather found itself engulfed in an incredible cloud of information and technology saturated with the likes of DSL, bluetooth and WLAN. Most notably, a large amount of communication takes place over the internet or through mobile communication. In the process, the ability to actively and consciously utilize the most modern forms of 'new media' has developed into a fourth cultural technique that has little to do with specialized IT skills or the mere ability to utilize various forms of technology. Technological possiblities increased with the birth of Web 2.0, as technical barriers decreased to such a large degree that almost every individual was able to actively be a part of the World Wide Web. Over time, society has seen the birth and development of such indispensable media platforms as Wikipedia, YouTube and social networking sites.
While the web seems to be growing at a slower pace now, a huge amount of critique, doubts and questions with regards to its ever-expanding boundaries still persists. Where the previous decade saw Google as the main player of the internet, the present seems to be hallmarked by Facebook's presence. Data collection and storage are now the features that characterize the development of the Web 3.0 .
The State of Niedersachsen intends to bolster and fortify the development of media skills, particularly since they have become an essential prerequisite to being a part of the information and knowledge economy that has become an integral part of today's society. In addition, it is imperative to the autonomous processes of forming one's opinion.
This notion of the importance of media skills is geared towards Dieter Baacke's theories, which postulate an inter-relationship between four spheres: