I’m reading a dissertation called, “MEDIA CREATION AND THE NET GENERATION: COMPARING FACULTY AND STUDENT BELIEFS AND COMPETENCIES REGARDING MEDIA LITERACY WITHIN HIGHER EDUCATION” by Hans Schmidt. It’s pretty fascinating to me because much of it confirms what I have personally experienced and have long suspected about so-called “Digital Natives” who are supposed to be experts in communicating with technology. He writes:
Despite the perception that today’s college students are digital natives, individuals of this generation typically lack the media creation competencies that are an important dimension of overall media literacy. Additionally, data suggest that, despite the perception that students should be learning about media creation, they currently rarely learn about this aspect of media literacy at the college level.” (Schmidt, H. 2010)
A year or so ago, I remember discussing this very phenomenon with Michael Wesch and we both agreed that it’s a mistake to assume that all young people are competent communicators in digital media. The ones that we take note of are indeed adept in their media savviness, but they are outliers, not truly representative of the entire population of the millenial or net-generation. Some young people are doing amazing things with technology, but most are picking the low-hanging fruit of social media tools like Facebook.
I remember Mike emphasizing how important these digital media skills are to people living immersed in a digital environment, yet we continue leaving them to specialists. We don’t teach video-making as a necessary skill to all college students. Only certain majors are likely to ever have a video project required, yet digital online video is a huge part of almost every college student’s life.
I’m sure that our conversation came shortly on the heels of my first reading Elizabeth Daley’s paper on Expanding the Concept of Literacy, and I suddenly realized how these new media tools that I’ve long been fascinated with are actually the new tools of literacy. I was glad to see in this dissertation that Schmidt agrees with us.
Competencies associated with media literacy need to be possessed by everyone today, just as competencies associated with print literacy should be held, not just by professional writers and editors, but rather by the entire population. (Schmidt, H. 2010)
I decided to take a little break and jot down this blog post while I’m thinking about these things. Also during my break, I found this little animation, obviously made by a “digital native” who does have some skill in video-making through animation. I had to watch it several times, it made me laugh so hard.
So are the majority of your students making videos? Are they skillful at photography, graphics software, or other digital media? Or are they like what others and myself have experienced, with a few being extremely talented but the majority limited in what they can do? I think it’s really critical that we teach this stuff to all students, so I have digital media projects in all of my classes, including the non-digital media courses I teach.
***Edit*** Not two minutes after I posted this, a google alert came in telling me about a new HuffPo article entitled, “College Students and the Cacophony of Noise“.
Media and Technology Literacy must become a major part of every, single elementary-age curriculum. Teachers, parents, and politicians have to make an extra effort to explain that these machines are supposed to clarify information and not act as the prime movers and shakers for critical thinking.
I sense a new movement for media literacy forming!