EDC 534 Reflective Essay 2
Building Competencies in Digital and Media Literacy
Please forgive my “cheesy” analogy to Field of Dreams, but I have to admit at first I struggled with the content for this essay. As I began to reflect upon what we have read, viewed, tweeted, posted and discussed since our last essay, I was a bit overwhelmed because it seems that in the past few weeks we have dug deeper into the more pedagogical aspects of digital literacy. Deciding to review some of the readings and presentations Dr. Renee Hobbs has shared with us for inspiration, I was taken to week 8, Pedagogies of Authorship. During this week’s synchronous session, Renee gave a mini-lecture on How Classroom Teachers Approach Transgression in Media Production Classrooms. I opened it in hopes of finding thoughts about where to begin. Well, it helped because sitting in the right hand column of the page, within the “Recommended” presentations, was Digital Authorship: A Pedagogy of Learning. This was the presentation given by Renee during last July’s Summer Institute in Digital Literacy, which I attended. Remembering this as a lecture that literally brought me to tears, I opened it in order to watch again the embedded video by Nathan Zed, Watch This Video if I Die (Or Till That Happens). Scrolling through the other slides to get to the video, I had one of those AHA moments.
Within this Slideshare, Renee presented the competencies of digital and media literacy, broken into the categories of Act, Access, Create, Reflect and Analyze. For the past 10 weeks, with each new tool, each LEAP project, each virtual dialogue, each reflection, Dr. Hobbs has been taking us through the process of building our own competencies so that we may help build those of our students and colleagues. So I’ll take the liberty of using these as reference points to the connections I’ve made that are most relevant to my process of becoming a more experienced digital author.
Digital Authorship as a Form of Social Power
“Digital authorship is a form of social power. Digital authors enter into conversation with others in the culture when they choose to share their creative work” (Hobbs, 2016). During the first week of this course I was asked to create a Twitter account and begin to participate within this social community. Please don’t judge me by my next comment but….., I have actually had an account since 2009. In the past 8 years I have only used this a handful of times. I did not look at it as a source for learning in the way that I should. It wasn’t until this course that I found that it could be used to “participate in communities of shared interest to advance an issue” (Hobbs, 2010). Understanding better the ideas of hashtags and participating in Twitter chats has opened numerous ideas of its value for classroom use. I’ve entered into conversations with others that have proven to me that ideas I have about social issues and those that surround my work do have value. Seeing the retweets and likes of my posts brings validation to these. I believe I’m also better prepared to justify this tool’s relevant use in the classroom. “The potential gap in literacies and participation skills creates new challenges for educators who struggle to bridge media engagement inside and outside the classroom” (Bennett, 2008). Why not use Twitter to bridge that gap!
I have built upon many of the competencies within the category of “Act.” Understanding how my role may change with the new knowledge I have acquired, “we should see it as a paradigm shift, one which, like multiculturalism or globalization, reshapes how we teach every existing subject. Media change is impacting every aspect of our contemporary experience and as a consequence, every school discipline needs to take responsibility for helping students to master the skills and knowledge they need to function in a hypermediated environment” (Howard Rheingold, 2008). I find myself better prepared to reach out to my students and colleagues in order to bring about this shift. Considering that each of us enrolled in EDC534 may teach from different disciplines is proof to the necessity of digital literacy skills integration across the curriculum. Serving each other as agents of change is proof of concept.
“When we access information and ideas we enter into a conversation” (Hobbs, 2016). And my, the conversations we’ve had! The competencies of “Access” have been proven over and over with each new tool I have used. From our weekly Zoom synchronous sessions to the video annotation tool of ANT, I have been in conversations with each of my fellow students from miles apart. We even have helped each other “learn how to learn” as we delved into the world of “Learning Through Dialogue.” Each dyad seemed to stretch a bit out of their comfort zone, as Renee suggested, using tools with which they may not have been as familiar thus gaining more competence in their access skills. As I learned in my work with Nada, Storify can be used as tool to aggregate Twitter posts in order create stories from these and other social media posts. This proved to be a beautiful and successful collaborative project that allowed us both to take risks in trying something new.
Digital Authorship as a Creative and Collaborative Process
“Creating with digital tools involves a process of messy engagement,” (Hobbs, 2016). As I touched upon many of the competencies of “Create” through my exploration of the site HitRecord identifying my own creativity, its purpose and with whom I’d like to share, became both a messy and invigorating endeavor. This site proved to be a space that no matter your form of expression, there was a niche for it. Putting my very personal work out there in a community for its sharing and critiquing by others took a leap of faith. This is a place I find myself returning just to see who has viewed the photos I’ve posted. I looked, as well, at the work of those who have “liked” or recommended mine to see if I find similarities or differences in their work to mine. Often, I do see likenesses in the way they post, but I also can find inspiration in their work that is not like mine. It helps to spark ideas for my future photos.
As we tackled the concept of creative control, I learned, that more often than not, student media creation is a balance between creative control by the teacher and creative freedom on the part of the student. Finding that balance can be delicate. “Nevertheless, production is an arena in which teachers necessarily cede some control to students, and what the students choose to do with that control is not always to teachers’ liking” (Buckingham, 2003). As I facilitate students’ growth through these creative competencies, there will be points of transgression. My students will challenge my authority over their decisions of appropriateness. As teachers we need to be mindful of our attempts of colonizing student ideas to ours. “Teachers’ attempts to impose cultural, moral, or political authority over the media that children experience in their daily lives are unlikely to be taken seriously. They are often based on a paternalistic contempt for children’s tastes and pleasures and are bound to be rejected. The notion that students might be somehow weaned off what they perceive as their own popular culture in favor of the teacher’s cultural or political values would seem to be increasingly impossible” (Buckingham, 2003).
Making Better Digital Authors Through Critical Thinking
The process into the “Reflect” competencies began with the first blog post where we were asked to create a “media memoir” that chronicled an early life experience that shaped our ideas of media making. This assignment helped me better understand, within myself, how these experiences shaped my views of personal creativity and it is interpreted. Moving through the course to each of the other reflective pieces I created, including this one, I recognize how the process of synthesizing what we have learned assists me with evaluating my own growth as a digital author which in turn will help me to better evaluate the media I consume.
Having choices throughout this course of the form in which my work would take allowed me “Analyze” which tools worked best for which purpose. It gave me creative freedom to decide how best to represent my ideas. These competencies of analysis were also developed through our comparison of texts, which evaluated the watch ability of youth created video. Compare and contrast is often a task I ask of students, but rarely practice myself. This task gave me the opportunity to struggle with this idea in relation to the problem students have in sharing video to audiences other than their peers. It makes me wonder who may be best in helping students critically evaluate their work, teachers or students like themselves? Whose opinions will help them to become better creators of media?
As I explain to my colleagues the course work I’ve completed on my path toward the Certificate in Digital Literacy, some tend to think it a bit crazy. They ask why would you want to do this? What’s in it for you? In response to them I say that it is for my own knowledge and experience while also for the benefit of the district. How can I take students and colleagues on a road that I have not first traveled? Unlike Ray Kinsella, I am not hearing voices in my head, but I am hearing the voices of students who are wanting more opportunities to create and share their voice. Like Ray who felt “I have just created something totally illogical” (Robinson, 1989), my creations during this semester took me out of my comfort zone, at times, and made me feel a bit “off the wall.” Knowing that my work may take others to a place where they find their own sense of creativity, I realize this is a place I want to be! Just like Ray says, “Well, sir, there’s a place where things like that happen, and if you want to go, I can take you” (Robinson, 1989). Here’s to building that field of creativity!
Bennett, W. L. (2008). Civic life online: learning how digital media can engage youth. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
Buckingham, D. (2003). Media Education and the End of the Critical Consumer. Harvard Educational Review 73(3)
Hobbs, R. (2016, July 26). Digital Authorship: A Pedagogy of Learning. Retrieved April 8, 2017, from https://www.slideshare.net/reneehobbs/digital-authorship-a-pedagogy-of-learning/2
Hobbs, R. (2016, November 11). How Classroom Teachers Approach Transgression in Media Production Cl… Retrieved April 8, 2017, from https://www.slideshare.net/reneehobbs/how-classroom-teachers-approach-transgression-in-media-production-classrooms?qid=e88d1a80-6444-4993-bd1f-058472b656b1&v=&b=&from_search=2
Hobbs, R. (2013, August 14). Messy Engagement: The Heart of the Common Core. Retrieved April 8, 2017, from https://www.slideshare.net/reneehobbs/keynote-messy-engagement-common-core
Rheingold, Howard. (2008). Using participatory media and public voice to encourage civic engagement. In W. Bennett (Ed), Civic life online: Learning how digital media can engage youth (pp. 97 -118). The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press
Robinson, P. A. (Director). (1989). Field of dreams [Motion picture].