So What’s Media Literacy?

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Media and news literacy skills are critical for people who seek to become strong citizens. The above definition aptly describes the meaning of media literacy. Unfortunately the Media Literacy Project, where this graphic came from, closed its doors in 2015.

Three organizations and websites that actively focus on media literacy issues are the Center for Media Literacy and the National Association for Media Literacy Education in the United States and Media Smarts in Canada. You can also follow the top ten news literacy Twitter accounts.described in a blog post by Samantha Stanley.

Consider reading these media literacy posts from MediaTechParenting.

Digital World Research-What It Tells Us About Causation vs. Association

On a fairly regular basis I hear presenters and parents cite research results about technology and 21st Century kids. Often they justify their points by making comments such as “According to research,” or “Research demonstrates that…”

causationassociationSome time ago, for instance, I heard a presenter comment that too much use of digital devices causes students’ lack of concentration, and she cited a university research study. Trouble is, when I subsequently checked out the research, it was based on 25 participants — a small number on which to form a conclusion and make assumptions about a dramatic outcome. After I read the abstract, I discovered that the researchers who conducted the study concluded that the outcome is an association with kids’ lack of concentration and not a cause. The data did not indicate that too much technology causes a lack of concentration.

The difference between association and causation is significant, and parents as well as those of us in the educational technology community need to recognize the difference. Much of our accumulated data about technology outcomes are collected over a short-term, and in many areas we have no data collected long-term. Television statistics are the exception, because after years and years of well-designed, science-based studies, the causal connection between television viewing and childhood behaviors is only now being firmly established. That’s because enough data exist to enable researchers to draw firmer conclusions about how TV screen time affects certain childhood problems.

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When Digital and Social Media Combine With Crisis

Moderation. Even with the best intentions, the decisions we make each day about what to do and how to live become more complex as our digital lives expand. Yet making choices about when and how long to stay connected could not be more important for us, and during times when a tragedy grips the country or the world, our connection choices become even more important.

moderationNow I spend a considerable time on my blogs and at my job encouraging parents, kids, and teachers to embrace digital life while also choosing to pursue plenty of offline activities. Making choices about what to do and not to do is especially critical when children live in the house, but all of us should pay attention to the length of time we spend in the digital world.

Choosing does not necessarily mean avoiding long periods of connected time if we are learning or accomplishing something significant (and yes, a game can count). Good choices, however, keep us from wasting time and from missing valuable face-to-face interactions.

I am usually pretty good at moderating my time online — at least I was until the bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon. After that tragic event, and for the ensuing six days I’ve not been able to disconnect myself for very long. My husband is a lifelong runner who loves the Marathon, though he’s never run it, but two friend were in this race, so we immediately tried to find more information about them. Moreover, my daughter works at one of the teaching hospitals in Boston.

Digital Mod

So all week-long I could not disconnect from the digital coverage. I checked three newspapers (Washington Post, New York Times, Boston.com) several times a day, added a slew of new Twitter feeds (#BostonMarathon #Marathon #CambridgePolice @Boston_Police, #Boston), and used Public Radio apps on my phone and iPad to listen to Boston radio programs, especially WBUR. (Note: One of my middle school students, a confident 21st Century learner, asked me why I wasn’t using the Public Radio app to listen everywhere I went.) Every day this week I’ve made a final iPhone news check just before going to bed and grabbed my mobile again as soon as I have awakened. I even listened during exercise.

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Inauguration 2013: Digitally Connected All Day Long

Maureen's inauguration pic

Inauguration Day photo taken by my friend and colleague, Maureen Boucher.

Events like today’s inauguration offer teachers and parents unique opportunities to demonstrate what connected learning is all about in the 21st Century. In my house inauguration Day 2013 was filled with digital connections.

We turned on the television around 10:30 this morning and did not turn it off until mid-evening — unusual for us. We also tuned our radios to NPR. A laptop, iPad, and iPhone finished out our Inauguration Day 2013 connections.

When we had things to do around the house we listened to our radios, though I kept my iPhone nearby to check on Facebook friends at the Capitol and along the parade route. When we sat in front of the television, I also used my laptop and iPhone, and my husband used his iPad.

Throughout the day we heard and responded to Facebook pictures and comments, and I often used my iPhone to respond to text messages from friends who shared observations from the Mall. While I thought about tweeting, the tweets were coming in so fast and furiously under the inauguration hashtags that I could not possibly read many of them while multi-tasking on my other devices, so I skipped Twitter for the day.

As we watched television, I opened a laptop window to the live blogging at the New York Times website. At  the same time I used another window to look up things when I wanted to learn more — interesting historical  inauguration facts, for instance. I also searched for poet Richard Blanco’s bio to find more about his work, and another discovery was a terrific PBS News Hour interview with Richard Blanco. After President Obama finished speaking, I also looked for and found a link to the text of his speech at the White House website. Continue reading

7 Questions to Ask Before Sharing Hurricane Sandy Media With Kids

The Pier Before the Storm
Photo by Marti Weston, 2008

Parents and teachers of digital kids should make it a habit to evaluate media for authenticity and reliability rather than automatically sharing dramatic images with children. Evaluating media is a critical 21st Century skill — for adults and children

The other day a friend sent me a link to a storm picture. The image featured a familiar ocean pier with huge waves about to crash onto its farthest end. (The photo at left is the pier long before the storm). While the drama of the image intrigued me, on reflection I was bothered because I could not learn anything about the website that hosted the image. Other than labeling the town and the storm, the photograph offered no other identifying narrative.

With its etherial quality, the image looked as if the pier was superimposed over a dramatic ocean scene — the waves and spray crashing at one end while the rest of the structure was clear without any water or spray obstructions. Moreover, since I was familiar with the location, I could not figure out where the photographer stood to take the picture. Perhaps I was wrong, but since I could not discover anything more about the picture, I decided not to send it to anyone else, and I am not even posting it here.

When a huge emergency like Hurricane Sandy occurs, digital pictures and videos circulate all over the web and via social media. A fair amount of these digital materials mis-represent the situation. To avoid focusing too much on the misrepresentations we need to apply some 21st Century common sense. Continue reading

Campaign Advertising — Media at Its Worst for Kids

The tenor of the political advertising in this election season is appalling, and it will get worse. Because no code of best practices exists when it comes to campaign advertising, the current presidential election cycle media will feature unending ads  that stretch the truth or make up the facts outright and deliver them straight into the lives of kids. While it’s a fine opportunity to help citizens, young and old, strengthen their media literacy skills, television is over-exposing all of us to some unfortunate and distressing content.

Click to visit.

To Learn a lot more listen to recently broadcast Diane Rehm Show about the non-candidate SuperPACs that are spending enormous sums on political advertisements. Jane Mayer’s recent New Yorker article, Attack Dog, is another comprehensive article. Talking to children about what they are seeing on television is critical, especially during an election cycle.

In a February 26, 2012 piece published at the USA Today Teachers’ Lounge (link no longer available), media lit guru, Frank Baker pithily describes the situation. He writes:

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Quiz: How Much do You Know About Social Media?

Take the quiz!

To get a sense of how much you really know about the social networking world and the movers and shakers who are actively developing and tweaking it, take a social media quiz. The Big Social Media Quiz over at the Liberate Media website.

A user needs 70% to pass this quiz, and though I know all sorts of minutia about social media, I only answered 50% of the questions correctly. Sigh!

Liberate Media is a PR firm with social media expertise.