Making Connections

Haven’t posted for awhile. I took a vacation last week and mostly just read including Margaret Mackey’s Literacies Across Media. It was a report of her research into how children interact with various media from printed texts to video to computer games. One of her conclusions is that students don’t seem to prefer one medium over another. Instead, they have ideas about how media and content relate to each other. For instance, they don’t like the e-books, feeling instead that books are a more appropriate format for printed text. (Can’t curl up with a computer, they suggest.)

I am particularly interested in her work with video games. How are students learning when they play a game? What kind of critical thinking skills are at work? Do they use/learn content knowledge?

I think in terms of research I am also interested in trying to define media literacy skills and see if/how they are being implemented in contemporary classrooms.

So, the connection that I made was that media literacy is really just an updated term for rhetoric, both studying the “texts” that others have created as well as creating on your own. Media replaces printed text, a broader word that takes into account the new ways in which we can share and archive information. But this new media rhetoric also takes into account a widening of access so creators can become as prevelant as consumers. We can speak up, speak back, speak out, in ways that simply weren’t available even a decade ago. It is a new rhetorical universe–postmodern, postdisciplinary, postelitist–in which we learn to question every word and image, learn to look for manipulation even from journalists and scientists, who claim objectivity. Because we all have access to the tools of representation, we understand how these tools can be used to misrepresent. Yet, the irony is that everything we see, hear, read are representations. There is nothing pure, nothing sacred, nothing that can escape representation. And with that representation must, in this subjective world in which we live, come interpretation from both creator and viewer. There is no single message that exists beyond those interpretations.

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