Tie And Jeans

Why are you using this stuff anyway?

The question, when genuine**, can be difficult to answer succinctly and without your langauge slipping into the fancy pants ethereal. So lets keep this simple, tied to the hour by hour reality of helping kids develop as 21st century humans.

Communicating with rich media is a fundamental form for contemporary communication. This isn’t a Science Fiction premise, but the basic process of learning things right now. While most students who have access to the tools will eventually pick up the mechanics of the process, we make those tools a part of our academic culture for the same way reason we include language exposure or mathematical problem solving. Some kids might live in multilingual households or travel extensively, and some kids who might fall in love with a Martin Gardner book in the library. But we view certain experiences as crucial and essential to intellectual and social development, we don’t make students’ exposure to them a matter of chance encounters. I feel pretty confident in suggesting that learning through media will be a necessary part of every persons life from now through 2025, regardless of subject or age.

Play is practice is performance.

Like any form of literacy, there’s no single-exposure instant process. There’s also a whole host of variations in how students will develop their literacy. Assuming that students “learned iMovie last week/year,” and therefore have universal and identical proficiency, is equivalent to putting hitting the checkbox after single phonics lesson calling that done. Students will always need multiple, scaffolding experiences along with the opportunity for freeform expression in order to develop their own skills and understanding. Saying that we can skip over media literacy because “most students won’t make movies” is like suggesting that because most students won’t write for The New Yorker, that text literacy is a dead-end.

Without the video, I never would have believed the size of that pineapple!

That said, I’m really frustrated by the unconscious use of the word “movie” to refer to the wide panoply of video and media forms. Look at the majesty of ds106! Huge piles of story, incredible media creation and curation, and not a simple “movie” to be found. At this point, the “movie” (much less the “iMovie”) makes as much sense as the introductory project for media literacy as the “thesis paper” makes for text literacy.

Don’t be satisfied with having students watch web video!

Students need to learn how to make statements, ask questions, and tell stories with media. Before you even think of choosing a tool or a media type, give a moment to think about how those skills can be changed and enhanced by the media component.

** There’s a distinction between genuine questions about how and what students learn through media-rich projects, and a pre-set belief that they simply don’t.


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