I am Director of MInDSpace, which stands for media and instructional design space. I work primarily with the library faculty to develop media literacy assignments across all of our academic departments. I also work with the technology aspect of what is required for a great learning experience.
Tell me about your latest work or project in media literacy.
The area I work in is faculty-focused for student success. We work with the faculty to help them design assignments that help students express their understanding of the material. At a community college we see 60% of the students need some kind of remedial help. We know these students are smart enough for college but need an early success to feel they can succeed here. By working with the faculty to develop assignments that use the tools the digital natives are more facile with we get around the fear of failure.
We offer a Media Literacy Institute to the faculty to help them get started. In that training they experience a variety of digital media opportunities. We then have them create an assignment using one of those tools. Finally, we have them do that assignment themselves and present the project to the rest of the group. This gives the instructor a good sense of how much work is involved. As part of the institute we also help them develop a tool to assess the assignment. Most of the faculty are fine with grading a paper but less comfortable grading a digital media project. We help them focus on the established learning outcomes and how to avoid being wowed by glitz that does answer the assignment.
The other feature we provide is the support to the students to do the projects (which are often group projects). The faculty are the subject matter experts but are often fearful of technology. We assure them that as long as the assignment is well designed we can provide the hardware, software and the support the students need. We use the library system to sign out any equipment the students might need, from small video cameras to presentation tools.
Why is media literacy import to you?
In this information age, the requirement of critical thinking is paramount. We now know it is no longer only about how you find information, but to what extent is the information trustworthy, accurate, and timely, for example. And for me the most important part is, how do you use that information to create something new? If you are going public with results then what are the implications of copyright and fair use? Today’s businesses require people who can think critically and express themselves well, often working in groups and using digital tools to advance the business. The critical thinking skills that are so important to media literacy will be required in whatever field our students enter, and will arm them with the ability to meet the rapidly changing needs of our world.
What are you most excited about in the media literacy field?
What I find most exciting is the same as what I find most scary. Media literacy is everywhere. You can find out so much information today that would have been impossible to understand just several years ago. But, the other side of that is also true–businesses know so much more and track our every move. The importance of critical thinking is crucial to making sure we are making intelligent decisions in our lives.
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 when I was new to my position to make sure I was on top of the latest information and resources available. I am also a strong believer in community; as a member of a community I can help so much more than I can as an individual. My membership gives me access to some of the top names in the industry and information about current thoughts and concerns. As a member of this community I do not need to reinvent the wheel. I can work with others who already have experience, so I can work together with my colleagues to create the best media literacy program to help the school and our students.