CLONMEL -- Drive along the western part of Clonmel's ring road and you might see a white building housing the multimedia studio of Tipperary Institute. Kitting out this studio would have cost €40,000 more just five years ago. Today, we get professional quality results with equipment costing less than €400. Students learn media literacy in this studio setting.
When we first received HETAC accreditation for our multimedia degree programme, we underscored the need to enhance core literacy skills, then to forge elements of media literacy in students. You become media literate by understanding the way media works, the way it's constructed, the way it's delivered, and the way people access it.¹
Larry Lessig makes a stong case for building these skills.²
In a world where children see on average 390 hours of t elevision commercials per year, or between 20,000 and 45,000 commercials generally, it is increasingly important to understand the "grammar" of media. For just as there is a grammar for the written word, so, too, is there one for media. And just as kids learn to write by writing lots of terrible prose, kids learn to write media by constructing lots (at least at first) terrible media. A growing field of academics and activitists see this form of literacy as crucuail to the next generation of culture.
I try to break through writer's block so often manifest in classroom settings by deconstructing the deliverables of writers, editors, and journos. I teach elements of sequencing story items, tactics to grab attention, and a rigor that seeks to remove casual text from written submissions. Our Media Studies course dissects how multimedia works, how it holds an audience, how it unfolds a story, how it triggers emotion. We build these skills by examining media objects, deconstructing them, and discussing revisions arising from the process. Unfortunately, we may tread on new copyright constriants being promoted by the leading production companies.
¹Dave Yanofsky, the executive director of "Just Think!" knows it is important to make kids literate about the way media is constructed.
²Lawrence Lessig -- "Piracy" in Free Culture
Maria van der Hoeten -- "Time to rethink what it means to be a citizen" in The Irish Times, March 19, 2004..