ML, DI, & Education - transcript

Program or Be Programmed - Douglas Rushkoff

ML: Media Literacy - DI: Digital Immigrant (Prensky 2001) - 



transcription of podcast

INTRO: Hi – we're gonna give a alittle discussion today  about Media Literacy – find out what it is in educationese and, more importantly, what it is in our lives, and why – WHY – we as digital immigrants need to give a toss about this issue – alright? so, sit back, relax, apologies for the profanity – it's a little early in the morning or late at night – however you want to take it – whatever time of day you're sharing with me, I just really appreciate being here – thank you so much – alright – coffee or cocktail in hand – let's get this jam goin' -  

First ML  - Definition from NAMLE: "Media literacy is the ability to ACCESSANALYZEEVALUATECREATE, and ACT using all forms of communication. In its simplest terms, media literacy builds upon the foundation of traditional literacy and offers new forms of reading and writing. Media literacy empowers people to be critical thinkers and makers, effective communicators and active citizens'" – National Association Media Literacy Education definition

in other words, it's about looking at stuff critically – about being able to decode the content and reassemble it in anyway we want  - with purpose –

So what? Who cares?  Right? Well, we all should – why?  because we are constantly being manipulated by the tech we have voluntarily submerged ourselves in – if you're nodding, you know, if you're not – then think about it – even now, you've got my voice in your ear, telling you what I think is important – maybe you're listening because you're curious about the content, maybe my voice intreagues so you'll stay with me for the next ten minutes, but here I am, talking to you about media literacy, urging you to think about how tech has the power to manipulate and how we, those of us who are digital immigrants, (a term by presky to describe those of us old enough to have witnessed Video killing the radio star).  {in case you're wondering - 12:01a.m. August 1 1981 –(Guerrasino, 2015)  I was in Augusta Georgia – I remember seeing it – or at least I think I did – it was so long ago} – how we unthinkingly turned to technology as a way to make the world smaller, to connect with others from differing cities, states, countries – on a deeper level – and are we?  Perhaps, perhaps not – new media is only a tool after all – but one I suggest we learn to analyze – to critique – to produce – skills we should teach the next generation. And if Twenge is to be believed – and I think she should be – then we have no time to waste as the digital natives (generations born into the digital age, raised with cell phones and the internet) are more solitary and suicidal, less happy, than our generation.

So is ML hard? Not really – I mean, think about, it's only asking us to understand, deconstruct, and reconstruct the media – and if you've

ever had a film lesson, then you know exactly what i'm talking about – I mean, it may be a bit difficult to start and take a little practice, but then we have the tools to use if we want - –I mean we all love a good story, a little escapism - but we should be able to counter how the story, say manipulates our emotions and determines our reactions if we want.  It's that ability that gives us power over the medium and allows us to decide, truly, if we want to continue believing what we're being told.

A quick example? Think of a horror film – perhaps a Hitchcock's North by Northwest or Psycho – or even Mel Brooks's parody – Young Frankenstien – almost every scene where  the audience is supposed to feel fear, the angle is low. Why? Because it makes the monster appear larger and puts us, the audience, in a powerless position, forcing us to look up at the big threat – add a bit of scary music – a little duhna duhna duhna – and we can feel the fear rising and know we're going to jump when that horror appears on screen – even if it is just  a mechanical shark.–

Marshal McLuhan in the 60s proclaimed that the medium is the message – but in the 80s, Neil Postman took to the NY Times best seller list telling all of us that we are "Amusing Ourselves to Death" and then proceeded to tell us exactly how we were going to go the way of other countries whose governments and industries distracted its citizens from the issues in their community by offering up games – think rome at its end with more holidays than work days – with mass executions for entertainment while countrymen starved in the streets – think sport seasons that overlap – baseball bleeding into football running into basketball – and hockey layering over them all – 24/7, 365 entertainment – but I digress -

What I want to share is Postman's view of television -

That "in the age of Television, our information environment is completely different from what it was [before] that we have less to fear from goverment restraints than from televison glut; that, in fact, we have no way of protecting ourselves form information disseminated by corporate America; and that, therefore, the battles for liberty must be fought on differen terrains than they once were" (p.140).  He continues to observe that tv "does everything possible to encourage us to watch coninuously. But what we watch is a medium which presents infomaton in a form that renders it simplistic, nonsubstantive, nonhisotrical and noncontextual; that is to say, information packaged as entertainment. In america we are never denied the opportunity to amuse ourselves" (p. 141).  And that was in 1984. What about now – how many of us have apps on our phones in our pockets where we can stream the latest episode of our favorite show – or pull up some social media and think we're connecting with others by hitting a "like" button shaped like a little heart – an icon meant to bring up all the feelings of love associated with that symbol so somewhere we feel really connected without having to do much – a few seconds for a button versus making the time to carry on a conversation and really listen to another –

And our children were raised in this – they live on it – and we encourage them – I'm not suggesting we pull their tech away – but what I am suggesting is we become more aware of how that media manipulates, how to critically think about it, and how to teach our children to counter it -

So, what can we do between our coffees and our cocktails? Well, if we're a parent, we can teach our children how to critically engage in media – we can watch Peter Komendowski's 8 min TEDx talk on ML – Mind v. Mindful before wathcing Gil Borromeo's 3 minute flick on ML with our kids –

We can look at NAMLE's resources NAMLE Parent Resource – for parents and find out what Renee Hobbs (big name in ML research) is saying on it - Her most recent work on propoganda and 7 key techniques used – we know them innately, we need to know them overtly too – and look for them – teach them to our young – yes, a bit like a momma bear protecting her cubs – that's how we need to be with our relation to media – protective of ourselves and those we love –

If our kids are in school, then we need to ask their teachers, their administration, their school board, where and how ML is being taught – and if the response is "Oh, that's handled in the English classrooms" as is currently shown in Common Core requirements, then we need to be loudly advocating for its instruction in every other content area because the techniques used may cross subject borders, but the purposes and interpretations can be different & our students, Digital Natives all, born into an atmosphere of digital air, need to be aware so they can choose, as much as possible, how to interpret what they see around them. 

A place to start? How about five little points which are the foundation of ML inquiry – what a word – Inquiry – too stuff – let's look at these points as ways to not be manipulated? So, things to know:

Talk about these things with digital natives – teach them to be savvy consumers – critical thinkers – practice with them what it's like to go a day, two days, a week, without a cell phone or t.v.  – use the resources already out there – the aforementioned  – NAMLE Parent ResourceBuilding Healthy Relationships with Media: A Parent's Guide to Media Literacy

 or Google's "Be Internet Awesome" program – with four games that help teach digital natives how to use the internet wisely.  Talk to teachers, to other parents, to your peeps both digital immigrants and digital natives – tallk to librarians – an amazing resource for all things and usually on the cutting edge of literacies.  And then talk to your children – practice creating media  with them –and add your voice, if you choose, to the discussion.  I suggest reading – or at least glancing through – Rushkoff's Program or Be Programmed while you do – his advice is solid- solid enough to have be added to my list for the next set of students I teach to read -

Well, that's iit - more than enough for now.  Finish your coffee – enjoy the rest of that cocktail, and think about it – about media literacy and you and your kids and our community – and let me know what you think –

till next time – cheers -