For more than twenty-five years, Canadian teachers have been at the forefront of getting students online and preparing them to use the Internet in safe, wise and responsible ways. Thanks to the SchoolNet program in the 1990s, many young Canadians had their first experiences with networked technologies in their classrooms and school libraries. However, MediaSmarts’ recent Young Canadians in a Wired World, Phase III study shows that even now, our so-called “digital natives” still need guidance from their teachers.
Making Your Voice Heard: A Media Toolkit for Youth is designed to help young people understand how the news industry works, why youth stereotyping happens and how they can access media to get positive youth voices and stories heard.
In this lesson, students are introduced to Earth Day and the theme of “Green Cities”. After listening to a short presentation on the concept of a “green city” and elements that constitute a green city (e.g. renewable energy sources such as solar panels, more energy-efficient buildings, recycling programs, cleaner air and water) students participate in an activity where they count the number of parks on a map of their city or neighbourhood. Maps are then analyzed as a medium as students discuss how they are created, things they can and can’t show, and their effectiveness at communicating environmental information.
It’s been almost fifteen years since Mark Prensky coined the term “digital native” to describe young people who have grown up with the Internet and digital media. In fact, the children who were born the year Prensky’s book was published are now in high school. While for many, the public perception of young people taking to digital platforms like ducks to water persists – accompanied by the image of adults, particularly parents, who are seen (often by themselves) as hopelessly out of their depth – the question remains how close that image is to reality. Are Canadian youth truly digitally literate? And if they are not “digital natives” who effortlessly acquire their skills on their own or from peers, are students learning what they need from their parents or teachers?
In this lesson, students examine the visual codes used on television and in movies through an exploration of various camera techniques. Students begin with a discussion about camera-subject distance, and review various film techniques that are used to create visual meaning.
I was recently asked by Jane Tallim to write a guest blog and seriously wondered what suggestions I could offer that would appeal to high school English and Media Studies teachers. We all know that teaching media is like trying to hit a moving target, and education lags behind revolutionary changes in new media forms. However, over the past decade of teaching both Media Studies and high school English, I have spent much time considering the intersection of new media forms with traditional English forms and have tried to build a bridge of understanding across time for my students regardless of the target. By focusing on the skills of deconstruction and construction, I believe the form of the text, or the new medium, becomes less relevant to comprehension.