Confession. During winter break, the kids and I were home from school and I spent an extreme amount of time online. “Going down the rabbit hole,” as my husband likes to call it. I was satisfying the FOMO (fear of missing out) monster, along with releasing that feel-good chemical, dopamine, that whispers “what else can I find online today? Any funny videos? Memes?” And the common thought, “How many Facebook likes did my photo received?” During this time, I noticed a lot of New Year’s resolutions posts--which included the usual suspects: weight loss, exercise, money management, and getting organized in 2018. I felt pressured to create my own list of resolutions for 2018. While many of us return to our old habits by the end of January, I am determined to create a list of achievable resolutions. Being a media literacy advocate, what better way to sharpen my skills than to make a media literacy resolution list?
1. Sourcing and Fact Checking
It is easy to look at a tweet or a blurb from a newscast and avoid getting into the nitty gritty of a topic. It may seem laborious or overwhelming to do a round of fact checking on a topic, however in the day of “fake news” or “alternative facts,” it will be important to routinely exercise my mental muscle, learn all of the facts, and venture outside my comfort zone. In order to better identify partial or untruths, I routinely use the following resources to fact check and source stories: FactCheck.org, NPR Politics Fact Check, Snopes and Propublica.
2. Diversify My Media.
For many of us, it’s easier to head straight to news sources who share our personal ideologies. We need to start asking how this behavior is educating or broadening our views? (Spoiler: it’s not!) As a media educator, I strive to be balanced in my consumption. If I have a balanced media diet, I will gain more insights and become a better informed citizen, educator, and have the ability to participate intelligently in discussions on various topics with my students and peers. I suggest adding diverse sources to all of your social media feeds. For example, like or follow pages for both the New York Times and the Conservative Review and then analyze how each covers the same event or story differently.
3. Practice Digital Citizenship Strategies.
Digital Citizenship covers a wide range of topics within media literacy such as internet safety, digital footprints, privacy, and copyright to name a few. My personal goal is to work on being aware of oversharing. Every thought and experience does not need to be shared, but if I do share, not everyone will agree and it could even lead to a heated debate. Additionally, I will ask before sharing and tagging folks on my social media accounts, especially if there are children in the photos. It’s always wise to have a clear understanding of what I can and cannot post of others. I use a Facebook setting which allows me to review tagged items before it is posted to my timeline--however, not everyone is aware of, or uses, this feature. If you are interested in using this strategy on your Facebook account go to Settings > Timeline and Tagging > Review and select “on” for “Review posts you are tagged in before the posts appears on your timeline.” You may also select “on” for tags.
4. Follow Public Interest Media Trends.
The potential merger of Sinclair Broadcast Group purchasing Tribune Media has prompted a lot of concern from the public. The acquisition could result in a decrease in the choice of content for consumers in many states. Three local stations in St. Louis will be affected and as a media literate audience, we need to be aware of media ownership. At the moment, it appears the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will overturn its’ National TV Ownership Rules which states the following:
“The National TV Ownership rule does not limit the number of TV stations a single entity may own nationwide so long as the station group collectively reaches no more than 39 percent of all U.S. TV households.”
In St. Louis, this decision will result in Sinclair having a collective reach to approximately reach 72 percent of viewers. For more detail regarding this FCC’s ruling on the Sinclair Broadcast Group check out the following article by Don Corrigan: Local News, Fake News, No News – Read All About It!
As we turn the page on 2017, let’s be mindful of the media we consume. Take time for entertainment but if there are serious topics at hand, exercise due diligence and become better educated citizens. Going down the rabbit hole may benefit us a little more if we use media literacy tools to access, analyze, and evaluate the media we consume.
Happy New Year!
Marteana Davidson, President
Gateway Media Literacy Partners
“Media literacy seeks to empower citizens and transform their passive relationship to media into an active, critical engagement- capable of challenging the traditions and structures of a privatized, commercial media culture, and finding new avenues of citizen speech and discourse.”
(Source: Wally Bowen, 1996, Citizens for Media Literacy, Asheville, NC, U.S.A.)
My nine year old daughter, Madison wants a guinea pig. My husband and I want her to have a guinea pig like we want more bills to pay. One day while driving her to school she began stating some random facts about what to feed guinea pigs, how to clean them and asked me did I know guinea pigs could swim. Curious, I asked if she learned these facts from a friend at school or the school library. She said “No. I learned about them from watching videos on YouTube.”
Research is different nowadays. When I think about how I investigated things that interested me or did research for a school paper, it was usually from either polling my sisters and friends or multiple trips to the library. I would pour over content sitting in the library with multiple books open, using index cards to jot down notes.
Information can be received quickly and without much effort these days.This phenomenon leads to a host of issues that need to be addressed, such as, how do we glean content to make sure it is reliable?
Media literacy training would solve the problem of content curation and analyzing all types of media. As defined by NAMLE (National Association of Media Literacy Education) “Media literacy is the “The ability to ACCESS, ANALYZE, EVALUATE, and COMMUNICATE information in a variety of forms....” Media literacy is a very important concept to teach our students and children.
According to the article YouTube is Crushing Cable TV, According to Google, “For younger audiences in particular, the video-sharing website has become a platform to discover new content, thanks to new features such as video suggestions and auto-play.”
There are billions of videos on YouTube, so how should you analyze and evaluate the content? To start, use a few of this these basic media literacy principles found on NAMLE (NAMLE (National Association of Media Literacy Education) website:
Today, everyone is an “expert”. More access to information online means the need for media/digital literacy skills in education.
If you want to learn about media literacy feel free to peruse my Media Literacy Symbaloo page. There are a lot of resources to assist with encoding and decoding media messages.
Well, along with researching guinea pigs, Madison loves to draw and she has found yet another YouTube channel, Draw So Cute which shows the audience how to draw different objects from cute penguins to cute cupcakes. Madison continues to do research on guinea pigs, however the possibility of getting a guinea pig, or any pet, is contingent upon her doing basic things without the constant reminders. You know, things like, make her bed, clean her room and eat her vegetables. I suppose, while some things change, others do stay the same.
I love learning new things. When I discover new technology, whether it’s for video production
(my background), or any type of gadget or app that may serve me, my family or teachers
(I’m a Video Technology Coordinator) I get giddy and want to share with everyone. I hope that
by sharing my ideas, one will stick, especially for my colleagues, who may not have time to
research technology for their classes.
The other day I participated in a technology ambassador meeting hosted by MsEdtechie,
Patricia Brown, Technology Integration Coach extraordinaire. She had six stations set up for
staff to learn about different educational technology resources. For me, the top of the list was
the virtual reality app. I immediately downloaded the DiscoveryVR app onto my iPhone. Next
I placed my iPhone into the I Am Cardboard viewfinder (I Am is the brand of viewfinder there
are other options to choose from such as Google Cardboard). The viewfinders remind me of
the ViewMaster from yesteryear-- but on steroids. Am I dating myself? I chose the
SharksEverywhere! virtual reality experience. “WOW!,” I said as I looked through the viewfinder.
I walked around, looked up to the left and right and saw sharks, other sea life, and a scuba diver
waving at me! This 360 degree virtual reality was a trip in more ways than one. A trip I may not
be able to afford on my own, nevertheless I could take students on virtually.
I could see this as an introduction to a Science class in elementary school or an Environmental
class in high school to pique student interest. For an English class, it could visually prompt a
writing assignment. Maybe a Technology class could use it as a springboard to compare the
technology advances from the time of the old View-Master and today’s new viewfinder.
Teachers are extremely busy, and while they are open to suggestions, sometime find little time
to research new tech tips and applications which would enhance their lessons. Technology
support staff want to enhance your curriculum, not to add to or annoy, so ask for their help!
So to all lifelong learners, try out a new technology for you and your students. Give them
exposure to new technologies. Who knows, maybe that tech addition may spark interest in
one of your students to pursue as a career. If it flops, move on to the next
technology, and at least you know what works, and what may not. If you need a hand to hold,
consult your Technology Integration Coach, or the teacher tech guru in your building. Spread
the technology cheer! Who knows, you may become the next technology expert in your building.
By the way, when I researched View-Master,I found they have virtual reality options also. So cool. Good luck!