I believe one of the most under-utilized, and yet powerful, media literacy strategies to use in secondary media classrooms is media research. In particular, students can gain great insight into media audiences and institutions via well constructed research activities.
Students interviewing other students, their parents and grand parents, siblings and others about their media tastes and habits, motivations for using those media , how their media use has changed over the years and so on can provide powerful insights. Of course this might be part of a production project such as a documentary rather than a formal written paper.
Conducting primary research of historical media can also be extremely rewarding when combined with critical research questions. For example, students researching media in the 1960s might source local newspapers from that period to identify the number of movie theatres and drive-ins that existed, what the television programs of the day were and what advertisements reveal about entertainment and popular culture of the time.
Research also helps to broaden out the scope of media education which has traditionally focused on textual analysis, when concerned with theory. While student can gain a great deal from close analysis of a range of media, they can also learn a lot about processes of production and consumption by aiming to answer a range of critical questions through research.
Here are three ideas for classroom research projects:
1. Students videotape an interview with a classmate about their favourite film, television program or game, asking a range of questions that really get to the heart of their fandom.
2. Student use primary sources to research the media that was popular in the year they were born. They should look at newspapers, magazines, if available, television programs, popular music and so on.
3. Students undertake a case study of a media event - for example, the release of a new blockbuster film. As a class they use a range of sources to find out as much information as possible about the production process, target audience, use of special effects, financial matters, marketing, etc for the film. The aim is to place it in its broader social and economic context.
Moving the Conversation to DMLcentral.net
3 years ago