Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Why Social Media Curriculum is Critical in Schools

The writer, a presenter at an upcoming Twitter Conference, argues for schools to rethink their closed door policies.

Helping Students Evaluate News, Online Information

Students can be inundated with information online, and should be taught how to determine fact from fiction when searching for news and information online. The News Literacy Project offers tips to help students evaluate what they read. Students should consider whether they are reading an opinion column, news article or blog post, think critically about what they are reading, recognize bias, use Wikipedia with caution and double-check information using reliable Web sites, such as or More from Edutopia online.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Education Week Special Issue

The March 18 issue of Ed Week has a number of articles profiling media and technology use in the classroom.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Understanding Media Literacy: New online course

Understanding Media Literacy: Inside Plato’s Cave

An online course, available July 2010

A breakthrough course fills a gap in media education

Finally, an online credit course for teachers, teachers in training, and students interested in communications studies and media education. Understanding Media Literacy: Inside Plato’s Cave is a breakthrough online three credit course written, tested and endorsed by teachers and delivered in partnership with Athabasca University. (visit the website at
for more information about the course and its authors)

Leaders aim for good media for youth

Two members of Congress have just introduced the Healthy Media for Youth Act (H.R. 4925), a bill to improve media literacy for youth and to encourage the promotion of healthier media messages about girls and women.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Can Classroom Games Improve Student Achievement?

Before anyone passes off this resource as too frivilous in a standards-driven school climate, we hasten to note it's authored by "What Works" guru Robert Marzano. "I have been involved in more than 60 studies conducted by classroom teachers on the effects of games on student achievement," Marzano writes in this recent ASCD "Educational Leadership" article. "These studies showed that, on average, using academic games in the classroom is associated with a 20 percentile point gain in student achievement." We're not talking Nintendo here, but games modeled on popular shows like Jeopardy, Family Feud or Pyramid. Before you don your Alex Trebek mask: Marzano found teachers get much higher gains from games by following four key practices.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Your Assistance Needed: Core Standards Omissions

Dear friends and colleagues:
Time is running out. If you agree with our petition below, you need to go to the SUBMIT FEEDBACK section of the COMMON CORE STANDARDS documents (online) at this week.
Please share this with your colleagues today.
Frank Baker (Media Literacy Clearinghouse), Richard Beach (University of Minnesota)

Whereas in 1996, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) passed a resolution urging language arts teachers to consider the importance of bringing visual texts into the classroom. The resolution said: "Viewing and visually representing (defined in the NCTE/IRA Standards for the English Language Arts) are a part of our growing consciousness of how people gather and share information. Teachers and students need to expand their appreciation of the power of print and nonprint texts. Teachers should guide students in constructing meaning through creating and viewing nonprint texts."

Whereas in 2000, the National Association of Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) defined
media literacy as: (empowering) “people to be both critical thinkers and creative producers of an increasingly wide range of messages using image, language, and sound. It is the skillful application of literacy skills to media and technology messages. As communication technologies transform society, they impact our understanding of ourselves, our communities, and our diverse cultures, making media literacy an essential life skill for the 21st century.”

Whereas the 2009 K-12 Horizon Report (, declared the number one critical challenge for schools in the 21st century is: "a growing need for formal instruction in key new skills, including information literacy, visual literacy, and technological literacy."

Whereas the 2010 K-12 Horizon Report continues to include this critical challenge when it says:
“Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession.;

Whereas media/digital literacy has become central to life and work in society;

Whereas, today’s educators recognize that the words “text” and “literacy” are not confined to the words on page;

Whereas the Common Core Standards only refer in general terms to media as “nonprint texts in media forms old and new. The need to research and to consume and produce media is embedded into every element of today’s curriculum;”

Whereas media/digital literacy are now well articulated in much more detail in most state standards, often under the category of “viewing” or “visually representing,” resulting in a strong media literacy curriculum focus;

Whereas if media/digital literacy is not explicitly articulated “in the standards,” many teachers many not focus on media/digital instruction;

We, the undersigned urge that more specific media/digital literacy standards related to critical analysis of media/digital consumption/use, production, representations, social/cultural analysis, ownership, and influence on society be explicitly stated in the Common Core Standards.

If you agree with our petition below, you need to go to the SUBMIT FEEDBACK section of the COMMON CORE STANDARDS documents (online) at this week.
Please share this with your colleagues today.
Frank Baker (Media Literacy Clearinghouse) Richard Beach (University of Minnesota)

Game Guides Teens Through Social Networking Dangers

from the UK: a new game has been developed called SMOKESCREEN which is designed to engage young people in understanding the dangers of giving out too much information during their social networking connections. Covered in the game are issues such as identity theft and cyber stalking. Read this news story here.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Students who use wikipedia don't want their professors to know

Surprise! Most students use Wikipedia at some point during their research on a paper or project, and they usually do so early on in the process. Online peer-reviewed journal First Monday recently published the findings of its research on student Wikipedia use and said that the service often serves as a starting point for the students who use it, allowing them to gather information for further investigation elsewhere. This is despite the fact that their professors still frown on Wikipedia use—but it seems that students believe what their profs don't know won't hurt them.

Future of Teaching & Technology: A Look at the National Ed Tech Plan

A computing device for every teacher and student so they can access the Internet at school or at home? That, along with an embrace of cloud computing, Creative Commons, and open-source technologies is part of a new set of recommendations from the U.S. Department of Education.

High tech multitasking slows you down

Multitasking is certainly a part of modern life. But studies show that media multitasking in particular takes a toll on the brain. You might think you're accomplishing a lot — updating a spreadsheet while text messaging and catching up on TiVo — but a 2009 Stanford University study shows otherwise. People who juggle multiple forms of electronic media have trouble controlling their memory, paying attention or switching from one task to another as effectively as those who complete one task at a time, says Eyal Ophir, a cognitive scientist and one of three Stanford researchers on the study.

Students, educators not on the same digital page, survey says

A national survey (2009 Speak Up) of more than 368,000 K-12 students, parents, teachers and administrators documents the increasingly significant digital disconnect between students' beliefs about how technology can improve the learning process and the practices of educators who are less comfortable with using technology in the classroom.

Visual technology aids students in learning math, studies find

Animation is helping students grasp abstract math concepts, two studies are reporting. A Lancaster University study found that interactive whiteboards that use animations, visual imagery and videos helped students in the U.K. understand math concepts, and teachers reported that the technology created a more collaborative classroom. In a study from the MIND Research Institute, California students who used math software to solve problems presented as puzzles and games raised their test scores on state exams by more than 12 percentage points.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Digital access, collaboration a must for students

In a national survey that reveals K-12 students’ use of technology at home and at school, students overwhelmingly agreed that access to digital media tools and the ability to collaborate with peers both inside and outside of school can greatly enhance education. “Speak Up 2009: Creating Our Future: Students Speak Up about their Vision for 21st Century Schools,” the latest education technology survey from the nonprofit group Project Tomorrow, identifies the emergence of “free agent learners”—students who increasingly take learning into their own hands and use technology to create personalized learning experiences. Details from eSchool News.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

CFP: Special Issue- Journal of Media Literacy Education

For more info, please contact Paul Mihailidis ( who is spearheading this special issue.

The Journal of Media Literacy Education invites submissions for a special theme issue exploring the relationship between media literacy and digital media and learning. Children and young people are growing up with new forms of media and communication technology that are unfamiliar to many parents and teachers. Scholars are making significant efforts to document the way young people play and socialize online. New norms of online participation are emerging as part of child and adolescent socialization. However, some scholars with interests in digital media and learning position their work at a distance from the practice of media literacy education, privileging the study of user behavior, social connectivity and participation and dismissing practices associated with message interpretation, critical analysis and inquiry, and communication skill development. In this issue, we are interested in exploring both the areas of disjuncture and areas of overlap, aiming to conceptualize new ideas that may fuel the development of both fields.

You are invited to submit manuscripts that explore the topic of digital media and learning in ways that connect with the practice and pedagogy of media literacy education. Your work may be framed around scholarship and practice in education, media studies, cultural studies, or other fields. Some issues we hope the manuscripts may consider: How do media literacy’s structured, formal and critical practices of reading texts/contexts/cultures map onto new forms of participation and engagement in social media environments? How do those who explore digital media and learning conceptualize the various protectionist-empowerment positions? How does learning about young peoples’ out-of-school literacy practices with digital media support the development of in-school programs? Why are aspects of mass media and popular culture generally absent from discussion about digital media and learning? How are new online tools (including those for remix, screen capture, commenting, and collaborative writing) shifting the role of media production practices both in and out of the classroom? Is the focus on digital “tool competence” contributing to another kind of “technicist trap?” How does scholarship in digital media and learning address issues of representation and cultural difference? Is digital citizenship a new set of life skills or a form of moral education which frames media and technology use in terms of middle-class values and cultural norms? How are issues of political economy get learned and taught in relation to social media tools like YouTube and Facebook? How do messages about media literacy and about the value of digital media and learning resonate with journalists, policymakers, school leaders, teacher, parents and children and young people themselves?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Changing Pedagogy for the Net Generation

At the recent ASCD conference, Don Tapscott (author of Wikinomics and Grown Up Digital) challenged his audience to begin thinking about how to reach and teach this new generation of learners.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Can't Read, Can't Watch, Can't Comprehend

A New York professor argues that today's post-literate students don't read movies any better than they read books.

Are you computer literate?

As jobs, finances, communications, and health become digitized, computer literacy is poised to become as fundamental to daily life as going to the ATM or reading the label on a bottle of medicine. Run through this list of computer literacy basics to see how you stack up.

FCC Chair Advocates for Digital & Media Literacy

Digital literacy, according to FCC Chairman Genachowski, isn't just about learning to use technology but "teaching kids to think analytically, critically and creatively, so that they can find relevant information, assess the accuracy and reliability of that information, distinguish fact from opinion, and create and share new content." He also said we "have to teach our children to become media literate so that they can evaluate media content and recognize advertising for what it is."
Details from CNET.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Schools should be teaching, not blocking, social media

Author and school-technology facilitator Steve Johnson believes that schools should no longer be blocking social media because of fears of possible misuse. In this blog post, Johnson argues that more widespread access to social-media tools is inevitable and that educators should be proactive in teaching students how to use social media in positive, creative ways that take advantage of collaborative, community-based learning and help them establish a record of positive use that can and will be tracked by colleges and potential employers.

iPods In The Classroom

According to Robert Craven, education technology coordinator for the Orange County Department of Education in California, iPods offer astounding possibilities for education. Read this interview with him in which he explains the various ways iPods are helping teachers teach, and students learn.

New Issue: Journal of Media Literacy Education--Now Online

The National Association of Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) has just posted the second issue of its free, online Journal of Media Literacy Education (JMLE). This is some of the best writing about media literacy in the US. If you're not already a member of NAMLE, I hope you will consider joining AND mark your calendar, when NAMLE hosts its bi-annual conference: "Global Visions/Local Connections: Voices in Media Literacy Education," July 22-25, 2011 in Philadelphia PA.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Model 'Newspapers in Education' Program

Can in-home delivery of the newspaper tied to classroom activities improve the reading comprehension of students in at-risk communities? Read how The Patriot-News (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania)developed their successful program, and find suggestions for newspapers and schools interested in launching similar efforts. See page 4 in this document.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Draft of national academic standards released

A draft of common national standards for English and math was released today by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers. The proposal includes specific benchmarks that students should achieve at each grade level. For example, by the end of eighth grade, students should be able to "informally explain why the square root of 2 is irrational." The effort -- endorsed by 48 states -- is being praised for its attempt to bring an "ambitious and coherent" curriculum nationwide, while others are critical of a "one-size-fits-all" approach.

Beyond The Textbook: Documentaries As Tools For Teaching

This essay was originally published in the Spring 2010 issue of POV Magazine. Excerpt: “Documentary has a critical role to play in education. The rapid advances in media technology have forced educators like myself to rethink notions of literacy and adapt our curricula accordingly. If students are watching, listening, and producing even more than they are reading, we must ensure they have critical frameworks for analysis. We can use documentaries to raise questions around voice, truth, ethics, and a range of themes relevant to the shifting literacies of the 21st Century.”

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Social networking: Twitter, YouTube boost lessons, communication

A Louisville Kentucky newspaper reports: Social networking is a practice that Jefferson County Public Schools has only recently begun to embrace. Until just a couple of weeks ago, the district had blocked such sites as Twitter and Facebook because of the district's participation in the federal Children's Internet Protection Act, which addresses concerns about access to potentially offensive content over the Internet on school and library computers. But now, JCPS and other nearby districts, including Oldham and Bullitt, are allowing teachers to use some social-media sites such as YouTube and Twitter to enhance their lessons.

Digital Citizenship: more than just digital literacy

Digital citizenship involves more than just digital literacy, write Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay, cofounders of the Flat Classroom Project. Educators must be able to effectively research tech trends, monitor the use of technology in their schools and districts, and empower student-centered learning mechanisms.

Has Blogging Peaked?

Today, there is increasing evidence that the art of blog writing is losing ground to even faster forms of communication, from 140-character Twitter blasts to one-sentence status updates on Facebook and MySpace. Nielsen Media Research estimates that of the 126 million blogs counted by its crawlers, the vast majority are rarely – if ever – updated. Details here.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Plan outlines new vision for digital learning in K-12 schools

From Education Week: The Obama administration released its National Educational Technology Plan, which focuses on raising the country's college completion rate by using technology to customize learning, taking advantage of online learning to increase instructional time and moving toward one-to-one computing for all students. The plan encourages school districts and educators to leverage technology tools that students are already using outside the classroom to better prepare them for the professional world, but some critics say it does not go far enough to provide funding for these efforts. (read these other stories about the plan from THE Journal and eSchool News)

The Power of Story: Improving Student Writing Through Movies

Story and Film is a new, innovative curriculum for high school students. Created by John Warren, it uses screenwriting as an accessible and innovative approach to teaching English, Literature and Media Studies. Warren will hold a three-day institute for high school teachers June 8-June 10 at the Governor's School for the Arts & Humanities in Greenville SC. Here is a link to a flyer with details and registration information.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Newspapers are used as teaching tools in Kentucky classrooms

A Kentucky elementary-school teacher uses newspapers to teach her students math, literacy and current events. Teacher Ruthie Miller says her students "buy" advertised items in the paper to learn math, write stories based on news photos and point out articles that are relevant to them. Miller receives the newspaper as part of the Newspapers in Education program, which distributes close to 10,000 papers to area classrooms each week to use as a teaching tool.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What the iPad Means to Higher Learning

AV Technology magazine's writer poses the question in the current (February/March 2010) issue: will Apple's iPad do to textbooks what the iPod did to music?

More educators seeking guidance on social-media contact with students

The Orlando Sentinel reports that some educators are finding themselves treading into a virtual minefield when using social media to interact with students. The communication tools can be a valuable way for teachers to connect with students but can also lead to situations where words are misinterpreted. Many teachers say they need clear guidelines, and education leaders nationwide are struggling to determine the appropriate use of text messaging and social-networking sites such as Facebook.

Monday, March 1, 2010

New Research on Digital Literacy Among Young Children

Authored by early childhood education experts, Arizona State University's Jay Blanchard and Terry Moore, the white paper examines the latest research on how young children learn using increasingly personalized and mobile media, including cell phones, television, video games, smart devices, and computers. The report focuses on the impact of these new ways of learning and highlights the degree to which these emergent literacies are rooted in young people's use of common-place mobile devices - especially in developing and least-developed nations.