Posts Tagged ‘Digital Nation’

5371v1076If you are looking to review media literacy analytical resources that might be useful for the upcoming school year, this hour-long Frontline piece from this past semester can provide useful perspectives on the generation in our classrooms today, christened “Generation Like” in the title to this PBS documentary.  Hosted by author and mediamaker Douglas Rushkoff who writes, “Generation Like explores how the perennial teen quest for identity and connection has migrated to social media — and exposes the game of cat-and-mouse that corporations are playing with these young consumers.”  Also take a look at my earlier post which includes a lesson plan created for the Frontline exposés Merchants of Cool and Digital Nation and may provide guidance or ideas for similar lessons with Generation Like.  

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dark knight baneFor decades, debates have raged about the relationships of media and violence.  For discussion in media literacy or psychology classrooms, I would like to point out a highly useful and relevant new op-ed in the New York Times by a group of physicians who established an initiative titled Broadcast Thought to provide expertise on depictions of mental health matters in entertainment and news media.  Doctors H. Eric Bender, Praveen Kambam, and Vasilis Pozios highlight recent scholarship that indicates that the most common popular opinions on violence and media – essentially, that watching lots of violence in entertainment does not lead to being violent in real life, as reflected in recent comments by Mark Millar, creator of the Kick-Ass franchise, about the widely scrutinized movie Kick-Ass 2 – are not supported by research or sound reasoning.  The authors state, “There is now consensus that exposure to media violence is linked to actual violent behavior,” and they provide examples of case studies that show exposure to violent imagery to be a strong risk factor in demonstrating violent behavior.  Meanwhile, much of the critical reaction to Kick-Ass 2 can be summed up in the opening quote from Manohla Dargis’s review of the movie: “There isn’t anything good to say about Kick-Ass 2, the even more witless, mirthless follow-up to Kick-Ass.”  Or listen to Cinefantastique.

Earlier, I wrote about Tackling Difficult Topics Through the Lens of Media Literacy, and this new op-ed piece also made me think of a unit in one of my media literacy and production classes, linked to Chapter 5 of Moving Images, in which students investigate questions of who creates media? / why do they create media? / how is media created? and how do messages reach audiences?  For this investigative unit, we look at the FrontLine pieces Digital Nation and The Merchants of Cool, as well as other sources.  As one component of their work, students have a task that implicates them more fully in the learning objective: They must work in collaborative groups to develop a proposal for a documentary, television series, or interactive moving image-based website that explores a selected theme or issues from one of these research pieces.  Each student must individually develop one part of the portfolio that will be presented to the class in a pitch session.  Among topics explored have been ones including issues related to teens (societal roles, driving, peer pressures, etc.), various impacts of digital communications, and violence and the media.

Media antidotes to glorified or flippant depiction of the impact of violence: recent Ken Loach films such as "The Angel's Share" and "Sweet Sixteen"

Media antidotes to glorified or flippant depiction of violence: contemporary Ken Loach films such as “The Angel’s Share” and “Sweet Sixteen”

In one example of a pitch related to media depictions of violence, four students presented examples of how there is “violence in the media” and the presentation initiated by the first two students generally consisted of showing YouTube links to “Jackass”-type viral videos.  In the second half of the pitch by the other two members, the concept itself became less vague and unconvincing to their peers as one group member showed a prezi with research and graphs depicting the influence and pervasiveness of violence in the media, as well as a resource list including the documentaries The Mean World Syndrome and The Bro Code.  The last group member showed a storyboard for the opening of their proposed piece in which they would dramatize a violent incident in a school linked to various popular media, including a current hit song.  Meanwhile, it is what can happen next that is vital to consider: The most important parts of the learning experience can be the follow-up discussions and further inquiry from research and the investigation of reliable, competent resources such as those presented in the “Does Media Violence Lead to the Real Thing?” op-ed.

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Admongo: Deconstructing Commercial Messages

As mentioned earlier in this blog, at the 11th Annual Northeast Media Literacy Conference at UConn I am presenting a talk titled “CCSS and Media Literacy in the Classroom: Communications and Critical Thinking through Promotional and Public Service Messages.”  As a service to those attending the conference and to followers of this blog and the Moving Images textbook, here are notes and links included in my presentation.

First, it is important to review principles of media literacy: here are the essentials at the NAMLE website.

Then, on to what educators face as principal challenges in curriculum development today: the Common Core State Standards.  For media literacy professionals, the following descriptions are the essentials.  For Reading Literature:  Analyze the representation of a subject or key scene in two different artistic mediums (RL/9-10:7); Analyze multiple interpretations of a story, drama, or poem (RL/11-12:7).  For Reading Informational Texts:  Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (incl. multimedia).. (RI/9-10:7); also, integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g. visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem (RI/11-12:7).  For Speaking and Listening, students must make strategic use of digital media (incl. audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.  (SL/9-12:5)  Finally, in History/Social Studies and Science/Technical Subjects, learners have to make strategic use of digital media (incl. audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.  (SL/9-12:5)

MerchantsCoverFor resources specific to the investigation of commercials, one of the best places to begin is at Frank Baker’s Media Literacy Clearinghouse, where there is a homepage for materials on critical thinking about advertising.  For educators of elementary and middle grades, there is the Federal Trade Commission resource Admongo, which features many exercises and lessons.  From my own materials related to Moving Images, there is an extended interview on this blog with advertising copywriter Kevin Goff, and links to commercials can be found.  These can be evaluated using such models as those of the Instructor’s Resources with Moving Images or this lesson from the MLC pages: Deconstructing a TV ad.  Recent ads have come under quite a bit of scrutiny, such as the commercials during this year’s Super Bowl.

Other examples used during the presentation are for investigative work done by students using such exposes as PBS’s Merchants of Cool and Digital Nation and Media Education Foundation’s Killing Us Softly and The Bro Code .   Using selected parts of these media reports as a basis, students must research topics offered by their teachers and create presentations based on the media questions that are most appropriate.  The attached Unit Activity GuideCritical Analysis 5b Lesson Plan – was drafted for work with Merchants of Cool and Digital Nation in conjunction with Chapter 5 of Moving Images.

As for examples from my classes that are shared during the presentation, those are for attendees – so I look forward to seeing some of you media literacy educators there!

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Program or Be Programmed by Douglas Rushkoff

Douglas Rushkoff, primarily known as the media theorist who has written some of the most important books on digital media and the Internet, and who coined phrases such as “viral media,” “digital native,” and “social currency,” has created some of the most interesting and thought-provoking materials for classroom lessons about contemporary media, including the documentaries The Merchants of Cool (which I have used many times in conjunction with my teaching with Moving Images) and Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier, and his most recent book Program or Be Programmed (this Laughing Squid blog page features videos and an excellent intro to the book).  Last summer, Rushkoff was a keynote speaker at the 2011 NAMLE conference in Philadelphia at which I presented a workshop on integrating media literacy and digital production in the classroom.  Rushkoff’s speech was engrossing and quite funny; moreover, I was impressed by his participation in the conference – he paid close attention to the people and events over the course of the weekend and was clearly connected to what others had to say and do.

A.D.D.: by Rushkoff and illustrator Goran Sudzuka

At the end of this month, a graphic novel he has written with illustrator Goran Sudzuka, A.D.D.: Adolescent Demo Division, is being released by Vertigo.  What a perfect concept for Rushkoff – a cyber-driven story composed of text and visuals about adolescent gamers who are being manipulated by a future society and must uncover the secret agendas and codes of their world!  Graphic novels continue to be one of the most dynamic media around – one of the nice surprises that as the world goes digital, drawing continues to make a comeback in innovation and inspiration – and the relationship between comics and moving images offers boundless potential for visual storytellers and learning scenarios.  There is an excellent interview with Rushkoff  about the book on his website.

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