Tag Archives: media education

Jenkins, H., Purushotma, R. Weigel, M., Clinton, K., and Robison, A.J. (2009). _Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century_. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press.

In this white paper, Jenkins and collaborators argue for participatory culture as a tool against youth apathy (Buckingham, 2000) and the digital divide. Per Livingstone and Bober (2005), the digital divide isn’t about access, but speed, site, quality, support — the extent to which the Net is engaging and rich. Per Wartella, O’Keefe and Scantlin (2000), we should emphasize technologies less, and skills and content access more to undermine the current class distinction.

The authors see three challenges, thus reasons, for policy and education interventions:

  1. the participation gap: it’s not just about access to the technologies, it’s about the human capital necessary to effectively articulate their capabilities
  2. the transparency problem: the world is layered with layers of media — critical reflection is necessary for youth to see through and to media’s often warped messaging
  3. the ethics challenge: without training, young people are hindered from assuming public roles in community engagement and media production

As remedy, book advocates for an ecological approach to media technologies and communities, and for youth media education that develops skills, knowledge, moral frameworks, and self-confidence. Defined, “participatory culture” has (1) relatively low limits to creative expression and civic engagement, (2) a strong creative and sharing support, (3) informal mentoring of the uninitiated, (4) participants who believe their input matters, and (5) that they share social connections with others. Participatory culture education shifts literacy emphasis from the individual and to the collective. They are also interested in the terms affiliations, expressions, collaborative problem solving, and circulations.

Per Jenkins et al., we need new media education, the literacies of which, “a set of cultural competencies and social skills that young people need in the new media landscape” (xiii). These skills build on and complement the traditional literacy, critical thinking, and technical training already learned in the classroom.

These new media literacies are:

  • play: experimenting offers a new way into problem solving
  • performance: assuming other identities fosters improvisation and learning
  • simulation: evaluating and reconstructing real-world operations
  • appropriation: making something one’s own through remixing and reinterpretation
  • multitasking: zeroing in on primary concerns
  • distributed cognition: interacting with tools so as to augment current cognitive capabilities
  • collective intelligence: pooling and sharing knowledge for common purpose
  • judgment: assessing and determining information sources for their merit
  • transmedia navigation: following information across various modalities
  • networking: searching, synthesizing, and sharing intelligence
  • negotiation: traveling through various communities, respecting their viewpoints, and comprehending other norms
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Jenkins, H. (2006). _Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide_. New York and London: New York University Press.

Henry Jenkins, PhD, Communications Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is Provost Professor of Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Arts, a joint professorship at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Before this position, he was the Peter de Florez Professor of Humanities and Co-Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies program. He sees four forms of participatory culture: affiliations, expressions, collaborative problem-solving, and circulations.

This book is about three concepts and their interrelations: media convergence, participatory culture, and collective intelligence. Jenkins’ goal: to share with the public convergence’s impact on the media and to show policymakers and industry executives consumer viewpoints. Jenkins does not “put forward popular culture or fan communities as a panacea for what ails American democracy” (250), but he does argue that convergence bespeaks a cultural shift as now consumers seek out what they want, making discrete connections among the scattered media. The implications aren’t just technological — interpersonal, social relationships change, as do the processes by which media are produced and consumed. Convergence is a process of change.

The HOPEFUL: Convergence is top-down and bottom-up. People are no longer passive media spectators but participate at three levels: production, selection, and distribution. Their participatory culture is a wholly new communication framework that harnesses collective intelligence (Lévy, 1997) and underscores their roles as empowered consumers. The Internet’s cultural economy provides a meeting ground for a diverse set of grassroots communities and a media archive for “amateur creators” (275). They have agency:

“Extension, synergy, and franchising are pushing media industries to embrace convergence” (19).

The PROBLEMATIC: For one, the digital divide is real. Jenkins admits that not everyone has access to the digital technologies (or the related skills) he’s describing, and recognizes the early adopters weren’t marginalized, but “disproportionately white, male, middle class, and college educated” (23). His concern with the digital divide is less about access and more about the “participation gap” (23), and “as soon as we being to talk about participation, the emphasis shifts [from technologies] to cultural protocols and practices” (ibid). For another, not all content is socially progressive. Jenkins notes that many political parodies on YouTube uphold traditional gender, race, and class hierarchies, and assume late capitalism-backed American hegemony is the only and best possible world order. “For better and for worse, this is what digital democracy looks like in the era of convergence culture” (293).

The NECESSARY: Media literacy programs are essential.

“We need to rethinking the goals of media education so that young people can come to think of themselves as cultural producers and to achieve this goal, we also need media education for adults” (270).

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Buckingham, D. (2003). _Media education: Literacy, learning, and contemporary culture_. Cambridge and London: Polity.

Here Buckingham writes an urgent call for media education. He cites his frustrations with the lack of progress in policy; the enduring and misplaced association of media education with creative curricula, rather than being linked with education more generally; and an already low and diminishing regard for teachers. The book has four parts: the essential objectives of media education, a “state of the art” address about media education, a more detailed view of media education pedagogy, and the challenges/opportunities.

For Buckingham, childhood (just like everything else) is not homogeneous. Meaning and experience are contingent upon other social factors, such as gender, race/ethnicity, social class, geographic location, etc. Likewise, blockages to media democratization are political and economic, not just technological. We experience all these things at unique positions in our social terrain, social field (Bourdieu, 1989). Buckingham’s research suggests “there is a widening gap between children’s worlds outside school and the emphases of many education systems” (32) and laments we “may see the emergence of an educational ‘underclass’ that is effectively excluded from access, not merely to economic capital but to social and cultural capital as well” (203). An late 90s UK study determined that middle-class kids, the “technology rich” (181) were about three times more likely to use multimedia computers at home than their working-class counterparts, the “technology poor” (ibid). Lacking access to technologies, these children suffer insufficient access “to cultural forms of expression and communication” (183).

The “so-called ‘creative industries’ (193) benefits extend beyond the economic. Consider the self esteem, the uncovering of unknown gifts that can “bring about the social and economic regeneration of disadvantaged communities” (ibid). Still, the differences between those who already have social and educational capital and those who do not is stark from the start, and this has become all the more dire since education is now perceived primarily as a consumer commodity, with its agonizing and useless standardized examinations.

“…key point here is that…potential benefits of digital technologies will not be realized without informed intervention on the part of teachers and…of peers… [There is a] need for reflection, deliberation, and dialogue” (187).

Buckingham advocates for multiliteracy, noting it’s not just about the plurality of modes of communication — and to be sure, there is a plurality — but the “inherently social nature of literacy” (38). Media education is the process of instruction and media literacy is the outcome. Media literacy comprises: reading, writing, the study of production, of representation, of audiences, and language. Media “intervene” — they provide the mode of communication, the context, and the content — and media production requires collaboration. For Buckingham, creative production’s distinct “social, collaborative” (Becker, 1984) function, hence, instruction, is more important than the “Romantic” (137) arguments for self-expression. He cares more about the social.

In the classroom, Buckingham finds: (1) Contextual analysis allows us to recognize the interconnections between forms of media language, as well as production and audience. (2) Simulations putting students in the role of media producer results not in a parroting of mainstream media but a critical distancing.

This is more than just “functional literacy…. For want of a better term, media literacy is a form of critical literacy) (37-38).

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Buckingham, D. (2000). _The making of citizens: Young people, news and politics_. London and New York: Routledge.

David Buckingham, PGCE, MA, PhD, ACSS, is Professor of Media and Communications in the School of Social Sciences at Loughborough University. Prior, he was Professor of Education at the Institute of Education, London University, where he directed the Centre for the Study of Children, Youth, and  Media. He researches children’s and young people’s interactions with electronic media, and on media education.

“Rather than attempting to measure the effectiveness of the news communicating political information, we should be asking how it enables viewers to construct and define their relationship with the public sphere…. How, ultimately do [news programs] establish what it means to be a ‘citizen’?” (18)

In this book Buckingham tries to address why children are reading news less. “Increasing cynicism can…be seen as a result of young people’s growing awareness of their own powerlessness” (202). Therefore, we should replace cynicism with criticism, a very important distinction. Regrettably, Buckingham contends that much media literacy discourse assumes a gullible other, forgetting how meaningful social context is, when what we need now is a social theory for analysis. Explicit in Buckingham’s research were age, gender, and the very significant ethnicity, while social class was implicit. Buckingham calls for a social theory of political understanding because research suggests that while news consumption is linked with greater political participation, the influence of parents, peers, and community factors is more significant.

So how to fix the news for kids and engage them as citizens? One way to do this is move beyond the classical, extremely conservative model for the news. Buckingham joins Fraser’s (1992) by enjoining readers to remember ours is a world with multiple public spheres, and so we should create “other possible networks for exchanging information or means of cultural expression” (24) that better engages youth. It’s still important to be realistic about what news for young people can achieve, but we should move towards making their news programs more exciting. “As we move into a more competitive, multi-channel era, in which television will have to struggle against less linear, more interactive media forms, innovation of this kind may not be only desirable but unavoidable” (58).

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