The Australian media networks may have influenced the monopoly political parties to force ISPs to block ‘file sharing’ sites. Here’s a discussion about how this will work if you missed it. No one is shocked by this, as those who have had the luxury of power like decide what ‘freedom of information’ and ‘freedom of speech’ is in our democracy.
As a teacher, I really wonder about the literacy that is being promoted through the curriculum. Some western governments like to control societies moral compass by setting it in a spin. Video games are bad, the Internet is bad, ‘chat-rooms’ are bad and the youth are either part of the problem of unsuspecting victims. At the same time the Chitter-lobby are increasingly living in factions – GAFE, Apple, Laptops, iPads etc., and obsessed with ‘collaboration’ and ‘features’ rather than noticing how utterly vapid ‘media education’ has become. Media education is not about ‘how to use’ tools to share documents or how to ‘curate’ things found online towards a school room project. Media education is about what the media has, can and might do for or to you. While the politicians and media producers decide what you can and can’t do online, children are increasingly being reduced to user-consumers.
Households (ruled by Gen Y) are increasingly able to “Google” what they want to know or find. The Internet’s front door for almost all households is “Google”. As we know, you can miss-spell, have half an idea and with a few clicks and re-tries you can find a list of answers. But Google isn’t very good at indexing the Internet anymore. It’s become good at indexing things most people Google. It isn’t focused on education (GAFE is merely a consumer-education strategy) nor being the index of the Internet. I am not sure how exactly Google became validated by education as the keeper of information or services, but it is clear that the 9% of people on Twitter and the small percentage of teacher-users seem to believe they are pioneering a ‘digital literacy’ agenda which enables children to thrive in the face of this media landscape.
Sonia Livingstone says that discussion about children’s media literacy and use often contain“disconnected questions about the impacts of particular media on particular groups of children, often framed in terms of moral panics, and with a predominant focus on American children as the implicit prototype for children everywhere.”
This really is a problem. The low level of literacy needed to ‘find’ information dominates children’s ritual behaviors around technology. Bored or lost children settle to tap and swipe, just as bored tiger paces around the enclosure. These apps don’t create new understanding but increasingly pretend to offer quick, easy and fast solutions for users.
Children, when given some problem often ‘pace’ until someone in the room offers a simpler problem. Simple terms are more likely to be Googled than complex sentences. The ‘net’ result, interesting to parents perhaps, is that children enjoy seek and find activities, but no improvement in critical analysis or synthesizing occurs. The most obvious behaviour is to ‘copy and paste’ changing a few words or to claim that the task is too hard or too complex … which justifies a return to pacing. As teachers are motivated by and required to cover lots of content and collecting work samples for dot-point proof, there simply isn’t much room for new approaches to media education. What I think happens are modified approaches to media use, which suit the networks. We are training a generation of users who actively ‘pace’ when classroom activities attempt to move past Blooms low-order (Google-able) tasks. I reject the simplistic graphics which claim they can align some ‘app’ with one of Blooms levels (assuming Bloom is relevant in media-enabled learning).
How then, are children going to know what information is actually available online if they are being trained as low-end-users? In particular, I see ‘rich’ schools parading their access to the latest devices, importing ‘expert’ speakers for private sessions and great spaces to learn with great furniture, super fast and reliable wifi etc.,
Culture is winning out. While the masses are content to Google, the network owners: political, social, religious and economic are allowed to advantage of their control of information. Media education still has a long way to go … and right now teacher-technicians seem content to eat conference muffins and re-Tweet in agreement about ‘what needs to be done’ … also pacing like so many of their students when faced with the real challenge today – the media is more powerful than ever.