I wear a several hats within the field of youth media, media arts production, and as a community media educator and producer. Currently, I divide my time between several initiatives. As an instructor with the Big Picture Alliance, I’m teaching and designing curriculum for a Digital Badges filmmaking pilot program with 9th graders. I am the Coordinator of the Philadelphia Youth Media Collaborative, a network of youth serving and media arts organizations, which are working to advance the field of youth media in Philadelphia. Additionally, I continue developing and facilitating workshops for Messages in Motion, an evolving mobile community media education and production lab I began in 2009.
2) Tell me about your latest work or project in media literacy.
Currently, I am most excited about my work developing curriculum for a Digital Filmmaking Badges pilot program with 9th grade students. This is an exciting collaboration between Lincoln High School, The School District of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Youth Network, WHYY, Big Picture Alliance, Youtopia, and HASTAC to teach students 21st century Digital Storytelling skills.
A large part of this project is aligning our after school program to the Common Core State Standards and demonstrating ways that traditional reading and writing literacies can be strengthened through media production and analysis. By having the students develop short personal and documentary films, students learn quickly how shot composition, music and editing creates meaning in their stories.
By sharing with them a diversity of examples of youth produced media, students identify with the authenticity of the stories created by other youth producers in a way that they do not often see in the mass media. This creates an opening for discussions around authorship and representation. When deciding on the topics they want to develop for their personal films and group documentary projects, we will have to go through several phases of writing, research and idea development so they can understand the dominant messages and stories that already exist, and work through how they will represent their unique points of view.
3) Why is media literacy important to you?
Media Literacy offers a distinct set of questions and a framework to open discussions around not only media as a communication tool, but also as a lens to deconstruct and analyze a range of social issues and relationships.
As an undergraduate at Ithaca College, my education in film analysis and media studies really inspired me to think about how power and economic structures inform media and cultural production.
For example, by being exposed to avant-garde and experimental film, I started to understand how ideology is embedded in ‘realist’ narratives of Hollywood films, and how cultures and communities can embed their own ideology into media-making practices.
Once I understood the politics and political economy of commercial media, I was able to pull back the curtain and become an advocate and an educator around issues of media access and independent production. By learning the tools of production you can start to shift the power and actively reconstruct new types of media that more accurately reflect your understanding and experience of the world.
4) What are you most excited about in the media literacy field?
I’m excited about the potential resurgence of a national youth media network, and thinking about how Media Literacy concepts and practices thread through our collective work. Here in Philly, we are building a youth media network that includes a range of disciplines from writers to audio/video producers, musicians to hackers and we are working together to advance along common ground.
There is now a groundswell of activity around using technology in the classroom, creating STEM/STEAM curriculum, acknowledging how a generation of digital natives are using media outside of traditional learning environments—all of this work must be infused with a media literacy lens.
Technology is a tool, it is not a means in itself. We need serious education around who is ‘authoring’ new technologies and understanding how the ‘techniques’ and ‘embedded ideologies’ of these tools are changing everything about how we live our lives.
5) Why did you become a NAMLE member – what benefits do you see to membership and how will it support your work?
I got involved with NAMLE prior to the 2011 conference in Philadelphia. It was great to see the scale and scope of media literacy work, which is happening locally, nationally and internationally. The NAMLE website and Resource Hub are great resources that I look forward to using more in my own teaching and to connect with colleagues in the field.
Category: M-Passioned Members