21st Century Literacies, Media Education and Faculties of Ed.

The classroom is changing and soon teachers will be expected to incorporate a lot more technology into their daily teaching.  This will require more knowledge than being able to use a VPU or a Smartboard.  English is about communication and the teaching of ideas.  Using media and examining media will become essential in this type of learning.  I have limited knowledge of most new technology but I can see how the application will be necessary to engage students but to also reflect the world they live in.  This video is a demonstration of this and likely the way most English classes will look in the next decade:

As a traditional English teacher educated in the 70’s, I naturally wonder how we will mesh what we do now, with technology.  I see how we will be heading to the end of books but with that I fear for the end of reading anything longer than a few pages.  We know that right now students read more Facebook pages and texts than they read traditional books.  What will happen to the pleasure of reading a novel, for example?  Having said that, I think the collaborative aspect of a lot of media will be very beneficial.  Although traditional class discussions will still continue, the ability to carry on a discussion online is one way to increase writing volume and to increase depth of discussion because the students will have more time to think and build on what they are reading in other people’s messages.  This just further underlines the need for media education-we don’t want our students to be proficient consumers and creators without giving them the tools to examine the impact of the technology.

This leads into my next point.  I have had student teachers for over 20 years and I have to say that the Faculties of Ed. are not doing a great job in preparing these individuals.  I have never had a student who had learned anything about Media education at the faculty.  How shocking is this, when this is a strand in the English curriculum!  There are a lot of other areas I could complain about but I will limit it to this idea.  How are these young people supposed to teach in this new world of digital and media literacy when they have received no instruction themselves.  It’s time they took a hard look at what they were teaching  and how their programs are preparing their students for the real world.

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2 Responses to 21st Century Literacies, Media Education and Faculties of Ed.

  1. “English is about communication and the teaching of ideas.” Yes! It’s such a struggle, sometimes, to be clear on what matters. I often worry that moving away from the classic texts means that we lose a common language, that our students will not have the tools that we had to communicate deep ideas to each through the shortcut of reference to common texts. There are plenty of new texts – tv, movies, internet – but the volume of texts leads to fragmentation of audiences and loss of common experience. On the other hand, perhaps it is this breaking away from a common knowledge base that allows new perspectives on old problems. If this is to work, though, we have to teach kids how to recognize new “canon” – that of commercial messages, which works to segment us and break down real human connections – and look for more authentic communications in the world of texts.

    • Great post, Nancy. I’m not sure there actually is a “canon” other than in the minds of some literary scholars. Shakespeare didn’t have a single original plot; he borrowed familiar stories and made them his own which is pretty much what all authors do, if you subscribe to archetypal criticism. I like your statement about new perspectives because it is hopeful. I would argue that today’s audience is far less fragmented because of the all pervasive influence of TV and the internet. Although the internet offers infinite variety, the number of views on certain YouTube videos would suggest that the majority of people are watching the same thing.

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