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Thursday, December 13, 2012

End of Semester Notes

Ten Things I Learned In Fall 2012 Term

1. Less is More. After discussions with my Department Chair, Edgar Garza, this past year, I trimmed content and worked with Cynthia Franklin in Distance Learning to scaffold my projects. The results are deeper learning and more engagement. Students may have to watch "All the President's Men" and "The Most Dangerous Man in America" and learn about the history of the First Amendment later or for extra credit.

2. Critical Thinking is Critical. We focused on 5w's and h, the media literacy questions and using the library's databases for research. Each of the projects had these components and the student projects at the end of the semester were the best on record.

3. Teams Teach.  Time after time, I see students stepping up to complete assignments and go the extra mile for their teammates even when I fear they might not do so if working individually. Team projects need roles, time-tables, project plans and accountability, but the pay-off can be surprising and inspiring.

4.  Step-by-Step to Success.  Scaffolding, stair-stepping, breaking down projects into smaller assignments that build on each other help students to reach their goals. Some students see the big picture from the start, while others don't, but with small steps more students complete projects and realize the scope of their explorations in media presentations if the steps are laid out well and topics are important to them.

5.  Wesch is Right.  Michael Wesch, a Kansas State University Anthropology professor whose students study media's impact on our culture thinks it is vital for students to use media to study topics they identify.  Students are more engaged in exploring topics that are important to them while using relevant technologies, including social media.

6.  Can't See the Media For the Screens Before Our Eyes.  Like the trees that seem invisible for the forest around them, we humans in the 21st Century are nearly oblivious to the impact of technology and media on our lives, families and society. Activities and exercises that force us to calculate and quantify media's role in our lives are important to becoming media literate.

7.  Seth Godin is Right.  Students need to prepare for careers that are Internet-based, digital in nature and teeming with potential and possibility.  The days of punching a clock and collecting retirement are now officially in the museum of the industrial economy. Creativity, invention and innovation are the traits and characteristics required of people in the new information age. 

8.  Beauty is our Birthright.  Language, art, design, color, beauty and images are the tools we use to craft messages and to tell our story. Students have too long been passive recipients of television and YouTube. It's high time they start talking back and discovering their own voices and ideas.

9.  Time is Worth Studying.  Bill Gates has as much as I do, not a minute more or less. We often use or misuse the precious resource of time without considering the enormous and powerful force of mass media competing without rest for the valuable real estate of our minds, our eye-balls and our time. $300 billion is what advertisers spend each year to capture our attention. Let's at least be aware of what we might be doing instead of saying, "Sure, here's my time. Let's watch some mindless TV tonight again."

10.  Facts are Facts.  The more students question their own assumptions and opinions, the more they question the messages that are aimed at them from media outlets. Learning and working with journalism principles help to create in our students better thinkers and writers. Learning to quote, cite and paraphrase dense information, understand, collect, analyze and display data, and present complex ideas in clear language is the hardest work they can undertake.

1 comment:

  1. This is great information for all of us. Thanks for sharing what you learned in such a succinct and interesting format!