Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Literature at the Center (2 parts)

Writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Emory University professor Mark Bauerlein examines the recent Modern Language Association and Teagle Foundation white paper that lays out a set of guidelines and principles for literature and language curricula. He says: " It’s a remarkable document, and everyone involved in curricular projects in secondary and higher education should read it." Here is a link to Part 2.

Blogs helping some Texas teachers engage students

Some Texas educators, reports the Fort Worth Star Telegram, have started communicating with their students via Internet blogs and say that students are responding. "A lot of teachers don't realize how many ways they can use blogging," said Julie Holland, a Texas district's instructional technology coordinator. "Teenagers now have become so expressive with blogs that they're really open to teachers who let them use that."

NC teacher receives national teaching award

Public education in Wilkes County (North Carolina) gained the national spotlight when a local educator recently won a nationwide award for innovative teaching. Jim Brooks of Millers Creek won the Commission On Media's annual Media Literacy Award for 2008 in November. Details here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Language Arts Educators Map Out 21st-Century Skills

Education Week's "Digital Directions" publication makes note of the new Partnership for 21st Century Skills announcement: A new resource created by the National Council of Teachers of English and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills provides English teachers with practical tips for how to infuse their classes with 21st-century skills. The resource offers many examples, such as encouraging students to produce movie trailers for classic novels, having them start a thread on an online forum about a local issue, or showing students how they can collaborate with members of the community in a digital-storytelling workshop.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Comics In The Classroom

Publishers Weekly reports: Thanks to a new generation of educators, the school and library markets keep on growing. NCTE Commission on Media member Peter Gutierrez is quoted.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Call for Proposals: Media Literacy in / and the Arts: a special double issue of AFTERIMAGE

Afterimage, the Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism, in print since 1972, is seeking unpublished scholarly research, pedagogy, experiential narratives and coverage of all media literacy practices and applications in any media and in relation to all educational, artistic, and professional disciplines. Submit proposals for the following: feature articles (3,000-4,000 words); essays and narratives (1,500-2,500 words); portraits (850 words); artist portfolios; reviews (850-1,500 words) of exhibitions, books, films, videos, and educational materials. Include cv/resume with all submissions. Deadline for proposals: February 15, 2009. Notification by March 1, 2009. Final copy deadline: June 2, 2009. Authors reserve all future reprint rights. Email Karen vanMeenen, Editor, at with proposals and questions. ** We are also seeking sponsors and advertisers for this special issue. Please contact

Thursday, December 18, 2008

21st-Century Skills Are Not a New Education Trend but Could Be a Fad

From the December 15 issue of US News & World Report: Critical thinking and problem solving, for example, have been a component of human progress throughout history, from early tools and agricultural advancements to gunpowder, vaccinations, or exploration. And while "global awareness" has historically been as much a martial talent as an economic one, interconnectedness is not new nor is information literacy among elites. Likewise, the idea that there is a hierarchy of knowledge from facts to complex analysis is not a new one. Plato, for example, wrote about four distinct levels of intellect. Perhaps these were considered "3rd-century B.C. skills"?

What's new today is the degree to which economic competitiveness and educational equity mean these skills can no longer be the province of the few. This distinction is not a mere debating point. It has important implications for how schools approach teaching, curriculum, and content.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Conference & Call for Papers: Visual Literacies: Exploring Critical Issues

3rd Global Conference: Visual Literacies: Exploring Critical Issues; 14 to 16 July 2009 Oxford, United Kingdom; click website for details.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Study on Digital Inclusion and Civic Engagement

Scholars of contemporary poverty tell us that the central aspect of impoverished communities is their political and civic demobilization. This study is an examination of how new technologies and the possibility of community media can offer new venues for those same communities to speak, engage in the democratic process and create the vision for a city which speaks to their concerns.

For Teachers Who Blog -- Or Might

Teachers who blog in public places should know the basics of media law and their employment contracts in order to avoid lawsuits, employer disciplinary action, and other problems, says this article from Edutopia magazine. It includes tips from popular blogger Bud Hunt (Bud the Teacher), who recommends that educators use their real names in public web spaces to promote personal accountability and "lessen the likelihood of launching online character assaults." Hunt makes no secret of who or where he is, but makes it clear that the views expressed on the site are his own and not those of his employer.

Monday, December 15, 2008

New Facebook Applications to Engage Youth in News

University of Minnesota researcher Christine Greenhow and Seattle-based news aggregator News Cloud will test new ways to engage youth in news and information by launching two social media publications on the popular social networking site Facebook. The project is being made possible by a $249,529 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Details here.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Media Literacy Teachable Moment: Those Holiday Toy Commercials

You may already know about Frank Baker's media literacy/toy ad website. Now, he wants to alert you to a new addition to the site: last week the group which oversees toy advertising (CARU) cited a child's toy manufacturer for deceptive advertising practices. The toy in question is called Kick N Go. On his media literacy/toy page, he has just uploaded a link to the toy commercial in question, as well as CARU's official compliant AND a behind-the-scenes short showing the making of the ad. Go directly to the new page. It is his hope that you or your teachers can find time to help teach students the "techniques of persuasion" as well as "techniques of production," both a big part of the standards.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Teachers question use of video games to boost reading

ABC News reports--some teachers say they are worried that new books that combine video games, the Internet and reading will become substitutes for imagination and creativity that come from reading traditional books. "If students rely just on using games and online tools, and they believe that is the only way they're going to learn or have fun, then they will be less inclined to pick up a book," said Becky Pringle, of the National Education Association.

From Set to Screen: Online Film Study Guide/Podcasts to "Australia"

Great movies are full of adventure, and Australia, the next film from Oscar-nominated director Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!, William Shakespeare’s Romeo+Juliet), is no exception. But making a movie is an even bigger adventure—an adventure in creativity—and with the Apple Set to Screen Series, you can be a part of it.

Podcasts from Baz and his production team introduce you to all aspects of moviemaking, starting with on-set still photography, then moving on to costume design, cinematography, scoring, and more. You’ll get insights from the artists at work on Australia, watch them in action, view footage the rest of the world hasn’t seen yet, and follow along as the movie comes together.

‘Textese’ - mobility and the evolution of language

Dr. Nenagh Kemp of Australia’s University of Tasmania has been engaged in various areas of research oriented around ‘the acquisition, development and use of spoken and written language, inevitably leading to an exploration of ‘textese’ - slang driven and created by technological limitations of communications media. Details here.

Gmail preferred by students, but nothing beats texting

Today's high-school and college students got their first email account at an average age of 13. Most students have had one of their email addresses for 8 years and have an average of about 2.4 addresses each. But if you really want to reach these students, you should forget email. Send a text message instead. Details in this ReadWriteWeb story.

Teens send 10,000 text messages per year, study finds

The average teenager sends almost 10,000 text messages per year, and is so worried about missing an important call that they leave their mobile phone switched on overnight, according to the latest survey into the digital habits of young people.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

If u cn rd this quickly, gd 4 u

Reuters reports that text-message abbreviations and simplifications are not ruining our spelling, but they do take much longer to read and understand than conventional English, a small Australian study has shown.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Journal of Global Mass Comm., Inaugural issue

The Inaugural Issue of the Journal of Global Mass Communication is now available (full text, open access) at . This first issue, focusing on news flow research and guest-edited by Festus Eribo and H. Dennis Wu, is dedicated to Robert L. Stevenson. Details at this blog:

This fair-use guide offers copyright shelter

Hoping to clear up the confusion over the "fair use" of digital materials in teaching and learning, a panel of university professors has developed a "Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education." Details in the new edition of eSchool news:

Friday, December 5, 2008

Matrix helps students weigh internet research--Two professors develop tool to aid students in assessing research and resources -- both online and off

For anyone doing research online, the abundance of information available can be overwhelming--and so can the task of sifting out unreliable information. Now, a pair of researchers hopes to give students a method for assessing the reliability of material they find on the internet, whether it's in Wikipedia articles, YouTube videos, or blogs. Details in this eSchool News story:

Web Literacy: Creating Student Editors

Will Richardson writes about the importance of "information literacy" in the current issue of the periodical "District Administration" (December 2008):
My only quibble with this piece is that he confuses "information literacy" with "media literacy."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Expanded Film Center Teaches Digital Literacy

The New York Times reports on the Jacob Burns Film Center whose tenacles reach far and wide. One of the center's consultants justifies its mission: without the skills to view media critically, “you are less of a good citizen, and less able to defend yourself against the powers of advertising and political persuasion.” Details from
This press release about center has additional details:

Teachers count on multimedia program to grab kids' attention

Lessons from an iPod? A video quiz on the Bill of Rights, with questions posed by rapping teachers? Online discussions of class lessons spontaneously popping up at night? Creative uses of technology are becoming the norm in Michigan's Southgate Community Schools, reports the Detroit Free Press, where a new computer-assisted teaching system hasn't replaced regular instruction -- but its ease of use has increased teachers' reliance on the technology. Details here:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Educators urged to adapt to students' tech lifestyles

Many students are bored and are not engaged in their education, because schools largely are not adapting to their students' digital lifestyles, Microsoft executive Martin Bean told a group of educators gathered Dec. 2 for Microsoft's School of the Future World Summit in Seattle. Click here for the full story

Call For Papers: Communication Pedagogy in the Age of Social Media

The Electronic Journal of Communication (EJC) has issued a Call for Papers for a special issue entitled "Communication Pedagogy In The Age of Social Media": this special issue (scheduled for publication in the first half of 2010)seeks to examine the pedagogical applications of social media technologies, especially with regard to the communication classroom. Details about the call can be found here:

New Book Examines Media Literacy in Elementary Schools

Commission on Media member Jeff Share announces the publication of his new book: Media Literacy is Elementary Teaching Youth to Critically Read and Create Media (Peter Lang, 2009) Knowing Jeff's previous work with elementary teachers and students, I know this text will be a welcome addition in current college-level media literacy courses as well as in elementary school library professional collections. Read more about his book (and others) on my web page for media literacy book recommendations