I am co-founder of CyberWise, a digital hub consisting of short videos, e-books, and other resources that help parents and educators understand and use digital media to invigorate learning (http://www.cyberwise.org). I also created and am teaching “Cyber Civics” at Journey School, my children’s public charter school in Southern California (http://www.journeyschool.net/innovation/digital-literacy/). “Cyber Civics” is a three-year, middle school media literacy program that has become a permanent part of this school’s curriculum. Starting next fall I will also be teaching media literacy to students pursuing M.A.’s in a brand new Masters program in Media Psychology being offered by the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (http://www.mspp.edu). The role of media literacy and digital citizenship is important in the MSPP program, since the overarching goal is to promote the educated and positive use of media technologies as consumers and producers. This is pretty exciting because it is the first M.A. in Media Psychology to recognize the importance of media literacy and include as an entire course in its new curriculum!
2) Tell me about your latest work or project in media literacy.
CyberWise was launched last summer at NAMLE, where co-founder Cynthia Lieberman and I were presenters. I was also one of the three finalists of the Emerging Scholar Award for my paper “Media Literacy Education – A Developmental Approach” (http://jmle.org/blog/?p=808)
Cynthia and I had both just earned M.A.’s in Media Psychology and Social Change, a pioneering field that focuses on how human behavior is affected by the media and how to use it to influence social change. During our studies we both became deeply interested and concerned in education and figured we could use our combined 30+ years experience in entertainment and production to translate the new digital world and all the changes taking place and make it understandable to “grownups.” Thus our motto… “No Grownup Left Behind.”
For the past year we have been working hard creating products and providing them (for free) to a growing public of followers. Because we have not had the time to seek funding or sponsors we decided to start with a “crowd-funding” campaign in an effort to keep our resources free and to increase awareness of our products. This campaign runs until July 15 (http://www.indiegogo.com/becyberwise).
3) Why is media literacy important to you?
My background is in the production of film, video, and special events. I believe that being able to tell and interpret stories across all kinds of media is an essential skill in the 21st century. Every child in America should by learning and practicing these skills, and be empowered to “participate” in the digital world safely, confidently and wisely. It would be nice of adults could be learning these skills too!
4) What are you most excited about in the media literacy field?
I’m excited about the opportunity I have, thanks to an innovative administrator, to create and implement a media literacy curriculum that has become a permanent part of a school’s curriculum (it’s a Waldorf school, which makes it even more intriguing). Other schools are starting to look at us as a model and that is exciting to me as well. And, of course, growing CyberWise so that we can “dumb up” the same lessons for parents is equally exciting to me. Because when the grownups understand how important media literacy is, they become role models for their children and advocates for media literacy education in their schools.
5) Why did you become a NAMLE member – what benefits do you see to membership and how will it support your work?
I became a member of NAMLE because I believe it can be on the forefront of this movement to help children and adults alike become truly “media literate” digital citizens. This means they will understand why and how to fully participate in the new digital world and all it has to offer.