If you are searching for an educational media literacy initiative that focuses on the mechanics of fact-checking, take a few minutes to learn about MediaWise, a project of the Poynter Institute.
Eighteen teenagers from around the United States are part of a MediaWise fact-checking network, learning about strategies and techniques that can help them identify misinformation. They participate in training that helps them understand how to determine what’s true and what’s not, and then the teens can set about investigating on their own. Finally, and this is the cool part, after the students decide whether the information is true or false, they create videos that illustrate the process they used to evaluate the information.
Twenty-first Century learners are great when it comes to intrinsically understanding how to easily use resources and share information in the digital world, but they often need assistance making careful judgements about what is appropriate to share (and what is not). When a problem occurs, it’s often because a child makes an instantaneous decision to send off an image — and it turns out to be the wrong decision. It’s just so easy to share!
Check out this terrific poster, with questions to ask before sharing a photo, easily used when you discuss social media and digital common sense issues at home or in a classroom. We all make digital errors from time to time, but this graphic can help us develop a visual memory that assists with decision-making.
The image is available at Common Sense Media, and I discovered it on the Edudemicblog. It will serve as a great jumping off point anytime image-sharing issues arise.
Many years ago my early elementary school aged daughter met author Daniel Pinkwater in a bookstore. After listening to him read and getting his autograph, she offered him a suggestion about a picture in one of his books. My husband and I were shocked at first, but then we congratulated ourselves — our daughter was so experienced and comfortable with picture books that she felt right at home giving a suggestion to a noted author.
Ensuring that picture books — lots of them — play a significant role in a child’s life is a required task for digital world parents, because all children in the connected need the skills to evaluate the images — especially the digital pictures — that saturate their lives. The Google Answers site points out that an average American is exposed to huge numbers of commercial messages each day (note the wide range of estimates at this site). Unfortunately children probably encounter these messages as well, so they need sound media literacy skills that help them interpret what they see. Picture books help.
“There’s more to these books than meets the eye,” writes Appalachian State University Professor David Considine in a document, MEDIA MATTERS: Here’s How One College Professor Puts the ‘Me’ in Media. Dr. Considine describes how he wants to demonstrate that students can “…develop critical-viewing skills by using something they already work with – picture books…” The process of reading picture books contributes mightily to the development of sound media literacy skills, building strong foundations that help children become astute image consumers.
Several recent articles have addressed picture books and young readers.
In today’s world an advertisement focuses on a specific demographic and gender — kids, boys, girls, adolescents, tweens, young adults, seniors, and more. This post, How Advertisers Target Kids, at the Media Awareness Network, a Canadian organization, provides much more background information. This PBS site, Don’t Buy It, Get Media Smart, explains how companies make advertisements, and then goes on to help children deconstruct (take apart and examine) them, and the images on this site are excellent.
Advertisers seek to combine images and music or sound with at least one or more strategies below, aiming to attract people, connect them to a product, and then encourage a purchase.
So your child has a new digital camera or phone, a birthday or holiday present, or a just-for-fun gift, and photos are now speeding through the virtual world in every direction — via e-mail to friends, in a Flickr album, attached to a text message, and highlighting social networking comments. Before too many pictures find they way to these and other locations, take some time for a digital photo-taking orientation — a review of guidelines and expectations. Today’s world is a vastly different place, nothing like the photo-taking environment that most adults remember from their younger days, and photos can end up in unanticipated places or cause unforseen problems.
Photography in the last ten years or so has undergone extraordinary changes. No longer do we buy and load film. Nor do we wait a few days for processing to look at our pictures. Today instant access, in terms of speed and range of circulation, defines photography. Pair this speed with the occasional child or adolescent misjudgment, and an image becomes public in moments. This impulsive image sharing can cause hurt feelings, anger, and even accusations of cyber-bullying.