empowering learners with digital and media literacy

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empowering learners with digital and media literacyFeATuRe12 Knowledge Quest | Turning the Page in MinneapolisRenee Hobbsrenee.hobbs@temple.eduEversincemychildhood,Iveneverbeenabletodistinguishbetweenschoollibrariansandteachers.WhenIwasgrowingup,thetermsweresynonymous.Thatsbecausemymother,RosemarieShilcusky,wasasixth-gradeEnglishandsocialstudiesteacherwhoalsobecamethefoundingschoollibrarianatOurLadyofGoodCounselSchoolinPlymouth,Michigan.Intheprocessofgettinghergraduatedegreein1966,shecametorealizethatherstudentsandcolleaguesneededaschoollibrary,soshelobbiedhardforone,petitioningthepriestsinthedioceseandsweet-talkingtheschoolprincipal.Inthegrandlow-budgetRomanCatholictradition,sheeventuallyearnedtherighttobuildthelibraryherself,rightthereinthebasementoftheschool,applyingherownspecialbrandofsweatequitytotheprocessoflearninglibrarianshipwiththehelpoflocalvolunteersandmembersoftheMichiganchapteroftheCatholicLibraryAssociation.Iremembermanysummersspentprocessingandshelvingandreadingbooks,delightingintheopportunitytobethefirstonetocrackopenthemanytreasuresofchildrensliteraturethatmymotherwasacquiringfortheschool.Therewerescadsofmagazinesandaudiocassettes,ofcourse.AndwhenVHStapeswereinvented,theybecamepartofthelibrarycollection,too;later,thereweredesktopcomputerswithsoftwareongiantfloppydisks.13Volume 39, No. 5 | May/June 2011mailto:renee.hobbs@temple.eduToday,schoollibrariansandteachersareworkingtogetherinanationalmovementtobringdigitalandmedialiteracytoallcitizens.Whenpeoplethinkofthetermliteracy,whatgenerallyspringstomindisreadingandwriting,speakingandlistening.Theseareindeedfoundationalelementsofliteracy.Butbecausepeopleusesomanydifferenttypesofexpressionandcommunicationindailylife,theconceptofliteracyisbeginningtobedefinedastheabilitytosharemeaningthroughsymbolsystemstofullyparticipateinsociety.Similarly,thetermtextisbeginningtobeunderstoodasanyformofexpressionorcommunicationinfixedandtangibleformthatusessymbolsystems,includinglanguage,stillandmovingimages,graphicdesign,sound,music,andinteractivity.Newtypesoftextsandnewtypesofliteracieshavebeenemergingoveraperiodofmorethanfiftyyears,andschoollibrariansandteachershavebeencontinuallymovingforwardwiththeseculturalshifts.Weveusedmanycloselyinterrelatedtermstodescribethenewsetofcompetenciesrequiredforsuccessincontemporarysociety.Inthe1960s,whenarteducatorsandothersstartedtoexplorehowtousephotographytopromotenewwaysofseeing,theycalleditvisualliteracy.Whenlibrarydatabaseswerefirstestablished,andpeopleneedednewskillstousekeywordstofindandevaluatesources,wecalleditinformationliteracy.Inthe1980s,whencabletelevisionbroughtafive-hundred-channeluniverseintoourhomes,werecognizedtheneedtoteachcriticalanalysisofpopularcultureandmassmedia,callingitmedialiteracy.Whencomputersfirstbecamecommonplace,weunderstoodcomputerliteracyaslearningtodistinguishbetweenhardwareandsoftware.Todaythetermdigitalcitizenshipmaybeusedtorefertothenewsocialcompetenciesneededtoaddresscyberbullying,privacypreservation,identityprotection,andrespectforauthorship.Thesemanydifferenttermsref lectavarietyofdisciplinaryperspectivesaswellasthetrulywidescopeoftheknowledgeandskillsdemandedbyourincreasinglymediatedsociety.WhenIusethephrasedigitalandmedialiteracy,Iseektocapturetheessentialfeaturesofallthesenewliteracies.Idefinedigitalandmedialiteracycompetenciesthatinclude(1)theuseoftexts,tools,andtechnologiestoaccessbothinformationandentertainment;(2)theskillsofcriticalthinking,analysis,andevaluation;(3)thepracticeofmessagecompositionandcreativity;(4)theabilitytoengageinref lectionandethicalthinking;aswellas(5)activeparticipationinsocialactionthroughindividualandcollaborativeefforts(seefigure1).Digital and Media literacy as elements of CitizenshipEasyaccesstosomanyinformationandentertainmentchoicesnowrequiresthatpeopleacquirenewknowledgeandskillstomakewiseandresponsibledecisions.Forpeopletoachievethepersonal,professional,andsocialbenefitsofthrivinginadigitalage,theseskillsarenotjustoptionalordesirabletheyaretheessentialelementsofdigitalcitizenship.TheKnightCommissionsreportInformingCommunities:SustainingDemocracyintheDigitalAgerecognizedthatpeopleneednewsandinformationtotakeadvantageoflifesopportunitiesforthemselvesandtheirfamilies.Tobeeffectiveparticipantsincontemporarysociety,peopleneedtobeengagedinthepubliclifeofthecommunity,thenation,andtheworld.Theyneedaccesstorelevantandcredibleinformationthathelpsthemmakedecisions.Asaresult,itwillbenecessarytostrengthenthecapacityofindividualstoparticipateasbothproducersandconsumersinpublicconversationsabouteventsandissuesthatmatter.MediaandAct AccesscreAtereflectAnAlyze & evAluAteFigure1Digitalandmedialiteracycompetencies.14 Knowledge Quest | Turning the Page in Minneapolisdigitalliteracyeducationisnowfundamentallyimplicatedinthepracticeofcitizenship.ThatswhytheKnightCommissionmadethreerecommendationsthatdirectlyaddresstheissueofdigitalandmedialiteracyeducationinthecontextofformalandinformalpubliceducationsectors:recommendation 6:Integratedigitalandmedialiteracyascriticalelementsforeducationatalllevelsthroughcollaborationamongfederal,state,andlocaleducationofficials.recommendation 7: Fundandsupportpubliclibrariesandothercommunityinstitutionsascentersofdigitalandmediatraining,especiallyforadults.recommendation 12: Engageyoungpeopleindevelopingthedigitalinformationandcommunicationcapacitiesoflocalcommunities(2009,XVIIXVIII).Toturntheserecommendationsintoconcreteactionsteps,IwasdelightedtobeinvitedtoauthorDigitalandMediaLiteracy:APlanofAction,apolicypaperreleasedbyTheAspenInstituteCommunicationsandSocietyProgram,andtheJohnS.andJamesL.KnightFoundation.Teachersandschoollibrarianseverywherearerecognizingtheseskillsasfundamental.AstheCommonCoreStateStandardsInitiativepointsout,Tobereadyforcollege,workforcetraining,andlifeinatechnologicalsociety,studentsneedtheabilitytogather,comprehend,evaluate,synthesize,reporton,andcreateahighvolumeandextensiverangeofprintandnonprinttextsinmediaformsoldandnew.Theneedtoresearchandtoconsumeandproducemediaisembeddedintoeveryelementoftodayscurriculum(2010).Buttransformationalchangedoesnotcomeaboutsimplybygeneratingdocumentsordevelopingwrittenstandards.IndevelopingaplanofactiontobringdigitalandmedialiteracytoallAmericans,Ifirstidentifysomechallengesthateducatorsandlibrariansmustaddresswhenimplementingprogramsandservices.Thesechallengesincludethosepresentedbelow.Moving Beyond a Tool-Focused orientationAlthoughinvestmentsintechnologyhaveincreasedsignificantlyinrecentyears,simplypurchasingthelatestdigitaltechnologiesdoesnotnecessarilyleadtotheacquisitionofdigitalandmedialiteracycompetencies.Unfortunately,manyschoolleadersmistakenlybelievethatsimplyprovidingchildrenandyoungpeoplewithaccesstodigitaltechnologywillautomaticallyenhancelearning.Schoollibrarians,teachers,andeducationaltechnologyleaderscanhelpshiftthefocustoemphasizehowdigitaltoolsareusedtopromotecriticalthinking,creativity,andcommunicationandcollaborationskills.addressing Digital risksDigitalandmedialiteracycompetenciesarenotonlyneededtostrengthenpeoplescapacityforengagingwithinformationbutalsoforaddressingthemanypotentialrisksassociatedwithexposuretomassmedia,popularculture,anddigitalmedia.Forexample,theFederalTradeCommissionreportsthattenmillionAmericanswerevictimizedin2009bywillinglygivingpersonalinformationtorobbers,oftenbecausevictimscouldntdistinguishane-mailfromtheirbanksfromane-mailfromapredator(Rothkopf2009).Asignificantnumberofchildrenandyoungpeoplehavebeenvictimsofpornographyandelectronicaggression.Sextingandcyberbullyingareexamplesofhowhumanneedsforpower,intimacy,trust,andrespectintersectwiththeethicalchallengesembeddedinsocialparticipationinadigitalenvironment.Thatiswhybothempowermentandprotectionarebothneededtoaddresstherealitiesofthecurrentmultimedialandscape.strengthening Peoples Capacity to access Message Credibility and QualityLibrariansandresearcherstellusthat,whenAlthough investments in technology have increased significantly in recent years, simply purchasing the latest digital technologies does not necessarily lead to the acquisition of digital and media literacy competencies. unfor tunately, many school leaders mistakenly believe that simply providing children and young people with access to digital technology will automatically enhance learning.15Volume 39, No. 5 | May/June 2011http://www.knightcomm.org/recommendation6http://www.knightcomm.org/recommendation7http://www.knightcomm.org/recommendation12lookingforinformationonline,manypeoplegiveupbeforetheyfindwhattheyneed.Peopleuseasmallnumberofsearchstrategiesinarepetitivewayevenwhensearchersdonotgettheinformationtheyareseeking.Theydonottakethetimetodigestandevaluatewhattheyencounter.Inmanycases,studentstypicallyuseinformationthatfindsthem,ratherthandecidingwhatinformationtheyneed(Cheney2010,1).Fewpeopleverifytheinformationtheyfindonlinebothadultsandchildrentendtouncriticallytrustinformationtheyfind,fromwhateversource.Tojudgethecredibilityofinformation,itisimportanttobeginbyansweringthesethreebasicquestions:Whostheauthor?Whatsthepurposeofthismessage?Howwasthismessageconstructed?Thesesimplebutpowerfulquestionsenablepeopletoassesstherelativecredibilityofamediamessage.Infact,forthesavvyuser,skillfuluseofdigitalinformationcansubstantiallyenhancetheprocessoffactcheckingandsourcecomparison.Bringing news and Current events into K12 educationForoverfiftyyearscivics-orientededucation,withitsuseofeverydaynewsandjournalismresources,hasbeendecliningasacomponentoftheAmericaneducationsystem.Manyteachersareuncomfortablebringingnewsintotheclassroom.RememberwhenPresidentObamastelevisedback-to-schoolspeechtothenationsschoolchildrenwasblastedbyconservativecriticswhoaccusedthepresidentoftryingtospreadpropaganda?Inaneraofcompetitionforandfragmentationofthenewsaudience,nosimplisticassumptionscanbemadeaboutthenatureofwhatinformationsourcescountastrustworthyandauthoritative.Today,youngpeopletellusthatthenewsisasignificantsourceofstressbecauseitremindsthemoftheperiltheworldisin,andmakesthemfeelunsafeandthreatened.Althoughteensreadthenewsonlyincidentally,whentheydo,theyprefernewsaboutmusic,entertainment,celebrities,andsports(Vahlberg,Peer,andNesbit2008).Still,effortsareunderwaytoexplorethedevelopmentofcurriculumandresourcestoengagestudentsasactiveparticipantsintheprocessofcreatingjournalism.Whiletheseeffortsaremoredevelopedattheuniversitylevel,programsarespringingupatthehighschoollevelandevenatlowerlevels.Butmuchlessisknownabouthowreading,viewing,anddiscussionofnewsandcurrenteventsaffectthedevelopmentofstudentsknowledgeandskills.Regularengagementwithnewsandcurrenteventsmaysupportthedevelopmentoflearnersbackgroundknowledge.Thisengagementmayhelpbuildconnectionsbetweentheclassroomandtheculture.Thisengagementmayalsohelplearnersseehownewsandcurrenteventsareconstructedbythosewitheconomic,political,andculturalinterestsatstake.Thisengagementmayalsohelppeopleappreciatehowaudiencesunderstandandinterpretmessagesdifferentlybasedontheirlifeexperiences,priorknowledge,andattitudes.Building a Community education MovementTosupportthedevelopmentofdigitalandmedialiteracycompetenciesforallAmericans,weneedacomprehensivecommunityeducationmovement.Local,regional,state,andnationalinitiativesareessential.Itwilltaketimetobuildtheinfrastructurecapacityandhumanresourcesnecessarytobringdigitalandmedialiteracyeducationtoallcitizens.Schoollibrarianssupportdigitalandmedialiteracycompetenciesbyservingasleadersintheirschoolsandcommunities,workingasinstructionalpartnerstosupportcolleagues,providingtheservicesofaninformationspecialistandprogramadministratortomanageprograms,aswellasofferingJ u d g e t h e C r e d i b i lt i y o f a M e d i a M e s s a g e b y a n s w e r i n g 3 b a s i C Q u e s t i o n s :1 . w h o i s t h e a u t h o r ? 2 . w h at ' s t h e p u r p o s e o f t h i s M e s s a g e ?3 . h o w w a s t h i s M e s s a g e C o n s t r u C t e d ? 16 Knowledge Quest | Turning the Page in Minneapolisdirectinstructiontolearners.Toachievethebuy-innecessaryforsuccess,initiativesmustcapitalizeonexistinglocalprogramsandresources,andenrollnewstakeholders,includingeducationalleaders,membersofthebusinesscommunity,andmembersofprofessionalassociationswhoaremotivatedtodevelopandsustainprograms.Toaccomplishthis,Ispecificallycallfortheactionstepsdescribedbelow.Community level initiativesWemustgarnersupportforcommunity-leveldigitalandmedialiteracyinitiatives,includingpromotingcommunitypartnershipsandcreatingaDigitalandMediaLiteracy(DML)YouthCorpstobringdigitalandmedialiteracytounderservedcommunitiesandspecialpopulationsviapubliclibraries,museums,andothercommunitycenters.Partnerships for Teacher educationWemustencouragethedevelopmentofuniversity-communitypartnershipsforteachereducationsoteacherscanbebetterpreparedtoactivatedigitalandmedialiteracycompetenciesinavarietyofeducationalcontexts.research and assessmentWemustassesslearningprogressionthroughonlineassessmenttoolsandcarefulvideodocumentationofbestpracticesfordigitalandmedialiteracyinstructionalstrategies.stakeholder engagement and VisibilityWemustincreasevisibilityfordigitalandmedialiteracyeducationthroughpublicserviceannouncements,entertainment-educationinitiatives,andanannualeducatorconference.Allacrossthenationandtheworld,schoollibrariansandteachersaretakingstepstoensurethatdigitalandmedialiteracyeducationoffersthepotentialtomaximizewhatwevaluemostaboutthetrulyempoweringcharacteristicsofmediaandtechnology,whileminimizingitsnegativedimensions.AstheKnightCommissionreportInformingCommunities:SustainingDemocracyintheDigitalAgeexplains,informedandengagedcommunitiesneedcitizenswhoappreciatethevaluesoftransparency,inclusion,participation,empowerment,andthecommonpursuitofthepublicinterest.Works Cited:Cheney,Debora.2010.WhyStudentsNeedNewsandInformationLiteracySkills.YouthMediaReporter(June24).(accessedFebruary26,2011).CommonCoreStateStandardsInitiative.2010.EnglishLanguageArtsStandards.(accessedFebruary26,2011).Hobbs,Renee.2010.DigitalandMediaLiteracy:APlanofAction.Washington,DC:AspenInstitute.KnightCommissionontheInformationNeedsofCommunitiesinaDemocracy.2009.InformingCommunities:SustainingDemocracyintheDigitalAge.Washington,DC:AspenInstitute.renee hobbs isaprofessorofcommunicationatTempleUniversitysSchoolofCommunicationsandTheater,whereshefoundedtheMediaEducationLab.SheistheauthorofDigitalandMediaLiteracyinGrades712:ConnectingCultureandClassroom(Corwin2011),CopyrightClarity:HowFairUseSupportsDigitalLearning(Corwin2010),andReadingtheMedia:MediaLiteracyinHighSchoolEnglish(TeachersCollegePress,ColumbiaUniversity2007).Rothkopf,Arthur.2009.KeynoteAddress.NationalForumonInformationLiteracyEmpoweringFutureGenerations:InformationLiteracy.October1516.Washington,DC.Vahlberg,Vivian,LimorPeer,andMaryNesbit.2008.IfItCatchesMyEye:AnExplorationofOnlineNewsExperiencesofTeenagers.Evanston,IL:MediaManagementCenter,NorthwesternUniversity.(accessedFebruary26,2011).all aCross the nation and the world, sChool librarians and teaChers are taking steps to ensure that digital and Media literaCy eduCation offers the potential to MaxiMize what we value Most about the truly eMpowering CharaCteristiCs of Media and teChnology, while MiniMizing its negative diMensions. 17Volume 39, No. 5 | May/June 2011http://www.knightcomm.org/read-the-report-and-comment/http://www.knightcomm.org/read-the-report-and-comment/http://www.knightcomm.org/read-the-report-and-comment/http://www.mediamanagementcenter.org/research/teeninternet.pdfhttp://www.mediamanagementcenter.org/research/teeninternet.pdfhttp://www.youthmediareporter.org/2010/06/fuzzy_logic_why_students_need.htmlhttp://www.youthmediareporter.org/2010/06/fuzzy_logic_why_students_need.htmlhttp://www.youthmediareporter.org/2010/06/fuzzy_logic_why_students_need.htmlhttp://www.youthmediareporter.org/2010/06/fuzzy_logic_why_students_need.htmlhttp://www.corestandards.org/the-standards/english-language-arts-standardshttp://www.corestandards.org/the-standards/english-language-arts-standardshttp://www.corestandards.org/the-standards/english-language-arts-standardshttp://www.corestandards.org/the-standards/english-language-arts-standardshttp://www.mediaeducationlab.comhttp://mediamanagementcenter.org/research/teeninternet.pdfhttp://mediamanagementcenter.org/research/teeninternet.pdfhttp://mediamanagementcenter.org/research/teeninternet.pdf