what is media and what's it doing to us?
January 14, 2019
implications for education/discussion
break (by 7:00)
seminar prep time
questions before we get started?
may be either
analog: continuous signal, record linearly usually by altering physical surface of medium
e.g., print media, records, tapes, paintings requiring canvases or other surface
digital: electronic media, information recorded by code and stored electronically.
e.g., USB keys, MP3s, MP4s, cloud-based media
media (sing. medium): channels, devices, or tools that store and/or transmit information
for example, visual literacies, cultural competences, ethics, critical thinking and competent content creation
see MediaSmarts for more details
looking at "digital media" means talking about:
critically engaging with mass media (media)
the personal and intellectual skills needed to engage in a digital society (digital)
for example, security, online relationships, collaboration, privacy, and safety
our definitions of media still largely let us assume that they are simply tools for us to use
media theorists debate this notion
two schools of though: technological determinism and technology as a catalyst for social invention
what is media doing to us?
an understanding of technology that views technology as determining social structures and cultural values
influential Canadian media scholars Marshall McLuhan and Harold Innis responsible for the idea "the medium is the message" (McLuhan, 1964):
recently more mild conceptualizations have viewed it as "the technological shaping of society" (Dafoe, 2015, p. 1051)
Dafoe, A. (2015). On technological determinism: A typology, scope, conditions, and a mechanism. Science, Technology, and Human Values, 40(6), 1047-1076.
technology as a cultural form
perhaps unsurprisingly, critiques to determinist approaches question the place of human agency
if the medium is the message, then what is there left to say?
the medium may impact the message and presentation, but we also have to think about the broader social, political, and economic context
influential thinker here is Raymond Williams who critiques some points of determinism
media, and their effects, must be tied to the contexts of their use (Williams, 1975, p. 10), it is a symptom of change not necessarily a cause
uses television as an example and writes that to understand technological developments, we must understand broader communicative contexts
emphasis on the idea that media never works by itself - there must be other forces at work as well
also points out that we often consume this media uncritically
we don't often think of the intent of the media
check our course to read some of his work
determinism and cultural form
although both approaches understand media's role in our lives differently, both agree on this:
digital media and technology do indeed have the power to alter us and our world
we can see this ideas in concerns about whether technology is changing our brains and practices (Carr)
and in ideas that we have the power to use technology in such a way that it helps make us wiser (Prensky)
digital wisdom is proposed as a conduit through which we take control by
actively seeking out new technologies and critically evaluating them
finding ways to use new media to enhance our capabilities
implications for education
for how we think of media in our classrooms
we are increasingly exposed (overexposed?) to media and rarely question the media itself
based on definitions of media and theories about how it shapes our lives, as teachers we need to consider:
to figure out where we stand on these issues, it might be useful to ask questions about our own views on media:
our own philosophies of media and learning
reckoning with how to use media in the classroom in an authentic way
drawing on the notion of digital wisdom, thinking about the purposes and learning theories digital media might enhance (philosophy vs practice)
having gone over some of the approaches to understanding technology and thinking about how it impacts teaching and learning, let's try to think about this practically.
at your tables, please discuss the following questions and make sure you elect someone to take a record of the conversation so we can all benefit when we come back together to share our ideas.
what we'll do is try to apply these ideas to the readings you prepared for today, so please think about the following:
questions to discuss
what would Carr's classroom look like?
what would Prensky's classroom look like?
how would each approach affect engagement?
how would they change the way information is consumed and
what beliefs would you have to hold as an educator to implement each?