Media Literacy Research Proposal

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¶ … Media Literacy

Most scholars believe that while the modern era has brought with it unprecedented growth and development in the technology sector; it has also dramatically shifted the power center from the governments to the multinationals. These corporations are increasing their control over the world resources and concurrently strengthening their grip over the system. At the same time, manufacturing and production in the developing countries is shifting away from high-volume to high-quality outputs. The labors in turn are being asked to be multi-skilled and highly productive. Such demands have forced the status quo to review current status of the education system and modify it to the needs of modern times. Knobel (2001) writes,

Schools have a significant role to play in embracing and critiquing New Times, rather than trying to domesticate them or keep them at bay. By coming to understand New Times, students will be better prepared to combat or resist alienation, cultural loss, identity dispersion, family fragmentation, and dependence on nonlocal corporations for livelihood rather than self-sufficiency, some of the social costs of New Times."

The fundamental dynamics of the power structure have changed so rapidly that what was significant-in the not so distant past- is irrelevant today. Therefore, a massive shift in learning and education is required: one that helps the students understand today's power hierarchy and one that helps them find their way amidst all this chaos. Knobel (2001) writes,

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In terms of addressing these social costs and in developing tactics for negotiating New Times, what students now need to learn is -- and should be -- vastly different to what was required in the not-so-distant past to maximize people's quality of life chances."

Critical Media Literacy

Research Proposal on Media Literacy Assignment

Scholars agree that one needs to accept the fact that times are changing dramatically and we need to arm learners with skills that help them develop and progress both individually and collectively. Students have got to be trained and equipped with the ability to read and write critically and across multiple symbol systems. They have got to understand the underlying purpose of the text; ask probing questions; examine the source/sources of information; review the inferences being made; assess the assumptions, conclusions, implications and different points-of-view of whatever piece of information comes their way. As Pailliotet (2000) writes,

By reading, we don't just mean passive reception of print but active, critical construction of meaning, whether the text happens to be a book, film, television program, TV commercial, Web site or music video. By writing, we mean generating varied texts -- including life actions -- through multiple media forms."

Students should experience learning that stretches across multiple and varied literacies so that they can connect the dots and fill the gaps that currently exist and produce results that help them and others understand the world and make it a better place. Pailliotet (2000) writes,

The learning experiences we provide show how intermedial teaching involves multiple literacies, and thus may serve as a bridge among ideas, disciplines, people, texts, processes... contexts, educational purposes and outcomes, theory and praxis."

Semali and Watts (1999), call for a sustained interdisciplinary focus that employs "deep viewing" where the teacher encourages the students to inquire and reflect. They also view the classroom as a place where multiple texts should be used to build on student inter-action with texts and personal experiences. The word they coined for this is intermediality; "the ability to work with diverse symbols in an active way where meanings are both received and produced" (p.V11). As they put it:

Intermediality requires new forms of interaction between student and teacher. Students can be teachers and teachers learners; and that this sphere of "inter" is crucial to emancipatory and democratic pedagogy (p.225).

Luke (1999) in his study identifies and defines "Intermediality" as Critical Media Literacy (CML), the "teaching of analytical skills (Luke, 1999, p. 623)." He founded his opinion on the fact that students on an average spend around five to six hours, every day, being engaged with some form of media, either print or electronic. Media, therefore, can be used as a training tool to educate and equip students with multiple skills. Over the years, a number of other well-known educational scholars have also asserted similar opinions (Alvermann, Moon, and Hagood, 1999; Hobbs, 1997; and Thoman, 1999). Pailliotet (2000) writes,

At the dawn of the new millennium, intermedial teaching emerges as a response to critical media literacy, serving as a bridge between existing and future literacy practices."

Critical Media Literacy (CML)

McLuhan (1964) classified the different categories of media based on the level of participation of the consumer. For instance, movies consume only one sense, vision, and require very little mind work from the consumer. He can easily figure out the meaning of the images before him with very little analyzing on his part. Therefore, he defines this form of media as "hot" and "high definition." In contrast, he argues that books, television, or comics force the consumer to fill in the gaps, assess, evaluate and come to conclusions. This form of media, therefore, is considered as "cool" and low definition. He writes,

Any hot medium allows of less participation than a cool one, as a lecture makes for less participation than a seminar, and a book for less than a dialogue (p 25)."

McLuhan concept of "hot" and "cool" media is still used today to classify multimedia technologies. Scholars agree that "hot" multimedia tools have got to be utilized so as to prepare students for future challenges. Hobbs (2004) in his recent study reviewed the scholarly work carried out on CML and identified five merging principles regardless of the methodology and approach that was used by most CML scholars. He listed them as follows:

All messages are constructions;

Messages are representations of the world;

Messages have economic and political purposes and contexts;

Messages use languages and conventions;

People interpret messages differently (Hobbs, 2004)."

Awareness of the first principle helps the consumer understand the choices that are involved selecting one message and ignoring another. The consumer is able to better understand the forces that are subtle forces that are constantly at work behind the media. Awareness of the second principle helps the consumer differentiate the real world from the media-world. He understands the facts that while media represents reality to him, this reality is only part of the larger picture and its does not accurately depict the situation and present all the facts that are available on the ground. Awareness of the third principle helps the consumer acknowledge the fact that the political and economic forces are trying to sell their agenda to gain leverage and fulfill their aims. The author acknowledges that this is a new concept and many Americans are "barely aware of how a newspaper can be delivered to the doorstep for 35 cents a day or how television can enter the home at no cost."

Awareness of the forth principle helps the consumer understand the power of colors in graphics, pitch and tone of voice in speech, and use of words in written and oral text. He is also in a better position to figure out the underlying meaning of the message; who is the audience, what is the purpose and format of the message. Awareness of the fifth and last principle helps the consumer understand the media, even powerful, does not own the meaning assigned to the message. Ultimately it is the viewer who gives it meaning by reading or viewing the text or image in a certain context within a viewpoint. Hobbs (2004) concludes that these five unifying principles can be applied to almost any form of media, be it the old fashioned print media or the latest multimedia technologies. He argues that awareness of these five principles should be central to any media literacy program. Students and adults alike should be able to apply these principles to any form and shape of multimedia technology (Hobbs, 2004).

Using multimedia technology in CML programs number of scholars have expressed keen interest in the use of multimedia technology to educate and equip learners with CML. For instance, Kellner (2008) in his study writes that while a number of studies have been carried out on critical media literacy, most of these studies lack the forte. They fail to reveal the methodology with which students can be equipped with multiple skills. He proposes a comprehensive definition of critical media literacy and also suggests a number of ways and special multimedia tools that can be used to educate students. He writes,

Media literacy involves knowledge of how media work, how they construct meanings, how they serve as a form of cultural pedagogy, and how they function in everyday life. A media literate person is skillful in analyzing media codes and conventions, able to criticize media stereotypes, values, and ideologies, and thus literate in reading media critically. Media literacy thus empowers people to use media intelligently, to discriminate and evaluate media content, to critically dissect media forms, and to investigate media effects and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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