Cynical? Moi?

Mr Caldwell thinks I’m cynical. I’ll admit to being a skeptic and critical of hyperboles, rhetoric and un-proven assertions which I argue are a significant component of the economic market which has grown out of online discussions around the role of technology in school age education. I believe that decisions towards what is ‘cool’ are primarily peer based and that those decisions are also status based. For example, while media studies has long argued for greater focus on multi-literacies in schools (which included the Internet), social-media celebrities use the term digital-literates to deliberately avoid scrutiny. They argue digital literacy is somehow unique, property of the savants of educational social media. I don’t believe, after over a decade in the field that vast amount of EdTech sub culture is much more than pulp-plagiarism and/or direct marketing of dubious commercial products. The reading public (on social media) are engaged in what is oral culture – not a new culture. EdTech might be considered a process of dialogue, but at some point – I started to wonder, where is this going? if at all? Forms of literacy have always been pluralistic and diversive – yet digital-literacy was born from Will Richardson’s “Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and other powerful tools” at a particular moment in technological development where read/write was made easier to the reading public. It is tollerated in schools when interpreted as primarily “written language”.

To reach a state where children and teachers (not authors and presenters) are benefiting from using digital media and digital texts, then they need to be credited with the ability to discover and use it within our contemporary culture outside of this hyperbole as individual, social readers. ‘Digital literacy’ is not something to be added to existing disciplines because Tapscott gives anecdotal opinions about “growing up digital” in lieu of any actual evidence, nor because someone has 20,000 followers on Twitter. Digital literacy, to me is a sign of ongoing economic and social exploitation.

If any civic society is serious about using media with children to improve their status and life chances, it needs to clearly set out media studies in schools and align that to the best research from media scholars to provide discipline that can achieve it. Even in higher education, this has proven very difficult so far. How Twitter’s celebrity ‘educators’ will achieve it is lost on me (and others).

In schools, introducing media studies would no longer be a case of what is blocked and unblocked, what someone thinks or doesn’t. It would be a discipline like any other. Sadly, media studies has not even been considered a worthy discipline for children (ACARA, National Curriculum, Gonski and so on). I’m skeptical that the decade old grueling cycle of celebrity lectures and selling commercial products will do anything other than perpetuate the highly lucrative market for a very select number of people appear to benefit from.

I’ve been blogging here a LONG time, and do so because as much as I believe media is an essential part of children’s development in society, I still believe it needs to be done based on the best research, not commercial agendas.