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Minutes: MRDG, ALA Anaheim: "Selecting and Analyzing visual images for use in media literacy training"

Selecting and Analyzing Images for Use in Media Literacy Training
ACRL - Media Resources Discussion Group
ALA Annual Meeting, Sunday, June 24, 2012

Guest Speaker:  Dr. Cyndy Scheibe, Ithaca College psychology professor and Executive Director of Project Look Sharp

Chimene Tucker (present at the meeting) will be succeeding Catherine Michael. Send future ideas for discussion to: Chimene Tucker (cetucker@usc.edu).

After introductions,  Jennifer Elder of Emory University agreed to take minutes (thank you, Jennifer). Cyndy began the discussion with definitions of media literacy. For instance, it depends on context.  Media Literacy is now a field that connects with informational literacy, visual literacy, everything growing out of traditional literacy (print media, reading and writing).  Media literacy is the heart of the activity of Cyndy's work with Project Look Sharp.  Catherine mentioned the five key aspects of information literacy standards:  planning, accessing, evaluating creating, and applying ethics; her awareness was gianed through working on the recently published Information Literacy Comptency Standards for Journalism Students (College & Research Library News, May 2012, v.73 no.5).  By comparison, Cyndy disucssed her "8 + 2" that includes: access, understanding, awareness, analysis (skepticism), evaluation (judgment), creation, reflection, and participation; the 2 extra points incude 1) the desire to do these things and then to 2) act on them (From Scheibe & Rowgow, The Teacher's Guide to Media Literacy: Critical Thinking in a Multimedia World (2012, Corwin/Sage). Critical thinking - what is it? C.T. includes:  Engaging in Inquiry, Curiosity and the Desire to Know, Inherent Skepticism, Valuing Good Reasong, and Flexibility and Open-Mindedness (From Scheibe & Rowgow, The Teacher's Guide to Media Literacy: Critical Thinking in a Multimedia World (2012, Corwin/Sage).

What does media mean? What have we been exposed to since we woke up this morning? Answers included: PowerPoint, television, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Cyndy noted that college students usually say Internet/Facebook, cell phone, music, and computer games.  Other types of media suggested included: ads, food packaging, maps, and even your clothing. What is the definition of "Media message"?: a message that is conveyed through visuals, language, or sound that is mediated by some technology, produced for the masses, and the person who produced it is not in the same physical space as the audience/viewer. Media is mediated...it is often impossible to have a two-way conversation. Ask, What does the viewer or receiver bring to interpreting the message? Cyndy mentioned her other project at Ithaca College: the Center for Research on the Effects of Television (CRE TV: http://www.ithaca.edu/cretv/ ).  She started Project Look Sharp; it used to be focused on K-12 but now, they're expanding. In 2003, they started creating curriculum materials that can be downloaded for free from their website: Project Look Sharp (aka PLS) : http://www.ithaca.edu/looksharp/  More than ever, PLS is looking at the Internet and trying to judge what is credible. Even at the college level, students are not being asked as much to use multimedia in research papers; Cyndy thinks that they should be using more multimedia.  It is an art to integrate those things into research papers. In Bhutan, they compute the Gross National Happiness; Cyndy and her PLS colleague, Chris Sperry, have been media consultants for Bhutan: http://www.looksharpblogs.org/ .  It was the last country in the world to get tv and Internet in 1999. The king decided they needed media literacy.

What is Web 2.0? Many students don't know what web 2.0 means; interactive media and participatory media are web 2.0.Educators need to be aware that today's students expect their sources to be non-linear; students often skip around and skim readings, just as they do when searching the Internet.  The Internet is fundamentally non-linear. Who has read the Internet from beginning to end? Students need to understand the grammar of the Internet; the Internet is where they are. Being able to read a URL is an important skill that should be explicitly taught to students. Professors often assume that students have a lot of knowledge about using and judging sources and an understanding of the Internet.  

At this juncture, participants practiced constructivist media decoding.  Participants paired up and were asked to analyze a scene, the "Discovery of the Mississippi by De Soto" by William Powell (the image was on a color handout).  Elements of the painting were decoded. Who is DeSoto in the image? How would you describe him? Proud, imperial, confident, arrogant, intimidating, a conqueror, fearsome, dominant...  The painting hangs in the United States Capitol and was commissioned by the US Government.  It is important to know who funds media.  How are the women portrayed? Fearful, resigned, combative, proud, challenging, seem very primitive, subservient... Some qualities conveyed include: Destructive, disrespectful, takeover by force...Painted from European perspective.  Participants turned to the other side of the handout where there was a second painting to decode.  This is an alternate picture of native takeover; it depicts three natives inside their house, looking out. The painting is called "The Last Supper" and was painted by a Native American in 1990s; he painted it out of personal inspiration.  This is a different process than using semiotics; the leader knows all of the right answers with semiotics; but constructivist practices invite conversation and critical thinking.  This decoding exercise is from chapter 4 of Cyndy's book.  Cyndy noted a PLS and NAMLE handout: "Key questions to ask when analyzing media messages"

We ran out of time before discussing information epistemology, specific issues with accessing images through aggregated databases, and copyright issues. Handouts were provided; many are accessible on the Resource List, below.

Photo of the event: https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/kW2ENuwIdYXvKprhjMuX3tMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=directlink

Resource List:
Center for Social Media. (2008, November). Code of best practices in fair use for media literacy
   education [Pamphlet]. Retrieved from http://www.centerforsocialmedia.org/fair-use/

Hobbs, R. (2010). Copyright clarity: how fair use supports digital learning (Monograph).
   ThousandOaks, Calif.: Corwin Press.

National Association for Media Literacy Education. (2007, November). Core principles of media
   literacy education in the United States [Brochure]. Retrieved from http://namle.net/

Project Look Sharp. (2012). Tips for decoding media documents [Pamphlet]. Retrieved from

Project Look Sharp, & National Association of Media Literacy Education. (n.d.). Key Questions  
   to ask when producing media messages [Pamphlet]. Retrieved from  

Scheibe, C., & Rogow, F. (2012). The teacher's guide to media Literacy: Critical thinking in a
   multimedia world (Monograph). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin Press.