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Debates over children and media use are nothing new, but the technologies by which children primarily interact with media have changed significantly. Most guidelines related to “screen time” were developed when television was the dominant media, but new technologies are making us question the value of older research. In its most recent report on the subject, the American Academy of Pediatrics makes reference to “important positive and prosocial effects of media use,” and a call for expanding media education programs in schools. While more dedicated media education in schools would be great, it is little more than a pipe dream in the current climate of low budgets and high-stake tests.
In defining empowered uses of media, we have to go beyond notions of screen time or even content (although we can still avoid content that seems harmful or inappropriate). By looking at elements from both the Encoding/Decoding model in communications theory and the New Bloom’s Taxonomy , we can create our own taxonomy of media skills. The goal is to help students become aware and empowered decoders of the media they engage with, creating their own meanings and uses from the media.
It is therefore incumbent on individual educators to help students interact with media in ways that are critical and empowering. We cannot limit this work to media that we have selected for quality or educational value. We should look for ways to engage critical thinking around students’ everyday media uses, whether through planned projects and lessons or informal engagement.Consume
At the lowest level, we have consumption. Framed by the question, “What are you watching? (or listening to, playing, etc.),” this is engagement in its simplest form. We allow encoded messages to wash over us without question or interpretation.Curate
This is followed by curation, or “Why are you watching this?” At this level we begin to think about the constructs of the media and how it serves our needs. We identify genre, character, and themes, and we begin to think about why the media is “for” us.Create
As new technologies have lowered the barriers to creation, so creation moves to a lower position than in Bloom’s Taxonomy. This allows creation to be a more formative step in the process of building critical thought. The framing question is “What are you making?” It asks us to think about the elements identified in the curate stage and how they work within our own creations.Critique
Next we ask, “Why are you making this?” In doing so, we look at our own creations from a more critical perspective with greater understanding of production, our relationship to media, and the encoding/decoding process. The question “Who is this for?” is often the most difficult for children to tackle, and rarely can students define this before they have engaged in the iterative process of creating products and discussing them critically.Publish
We strive to reach the level of publishing to understand how others may receive our work. This includes the additional layer of understanding the platforms of distribution through which media is disseminated. Unlike sharing, which we do regularly and often indiscriminately, publishing seeks an authentic audience beyond one’s classmates, friends, or acquaintances.Approaching the Project
This taxonomy can be used formally as a process when planning a project that aims to build these critical thinking skills. Certainly this would be applicable in any dedicated media production class. It would also be a useful context for teachers in any subject who may ask their students to do a “video project” (or other media creation project like music, websites, games, etc.). It can be difficult for teachers with little training in media theory and production to focus on more than the content of the finished product when assigning and assessing these types of projects. This framework can help interested teachers include a layer of critical thinking about media onto their projects for science, math, history, literature, etc.
Start by viewing, analyzing, and discussing examples of the type of media that you are asking your students to create. Students are accustomed to consuming media in the classroom for the purpose of conveying content, but are rarely asked to think about the media product itself. Ask students guiding questions about the audio and visual elements, narrative pacing and editing, interactivity, or the creators, audience, and distribution. What do those elements tell you about the media, and how do they affect the way that you decode the content?
When students are ready to move on to creating their own media, the process shouldn’t end when they turn in their project. Even if there will be no formal second draft, it is vital to create the space for students to critique their production and to learn from their critical thinking, that of their peers, and your feedback. Clearly separate formative assessment of the production from assessment of the content, which may be summative. If possible, give students the opportunity to continue developing their productions and consider the different perspectives of potential authentic audiences and how to reach them.Critical Thinking in Action
Administrators can use this taxonomy to consider the bigger picture of how your school’s curriculum on the whole — and the projects that it contains — can help move students’ critical media skills “up the ladder” over a longer period of time.
I also may reference this framework informally when a student comes to me before class and wants to talk about a TV show he or she watched. I might be dismissive of it based on my personal preference toward the content. The taxonomy provides some tools to engage constructively instead. It suggests questions like:
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Commencement Student Speaker: Seniors’ Relationships Were Strengthened during the Pandemic Sumner Jones (Questrom’23) to address the Class of 2023 Sunday
“The committee was drawn to Sumner’s authenticity, relatability and sincere gratitude for those who make this university a special place for everyone,” says Jason Campbell-Foster, associate provost and dean of students.
Commencement 2023Commencement Student Speaker: Seniors’ Relationships Were Strengthened during the Pandemic Sumner Jones (Questrom’23) to address the Class of 2023 Sunday
Sumner Jones has jumped at many opportunities during his four years at BU. He has fixed rock structures on 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado, worked on a farm in rural Kenya, camped out of his car for an entire summer, and served as an RA at Warren Towers. After running a 100-mile marathon last February, he immediately hunted for his next challenge.
Sore and tired in bed after the race, and unable to do much beyond scrolling on his phone, Jones (Questrom’23) noticed an email from the Dean of Students office inviting graduating seniors to submit a potential Commencement address touching on what their BU education has meant to them and what the future might hold for the Class of 2023.
So he started writing. And a few weeks later, he learned he had been selected as this year’s student speaker by a committee of faculty members and administrators who reviewed 30 submissions.
“If an opportunity presents itself, I always feel that it’s at least worth giving it a try to do my best,” Jones says. “Giving a speech to all of BU seemed like a pretty amazing and challenging thing at the same time.”
On Sunday, Jones will address the approximately 4,150 Class of 2023 graduates and 20,000 guests gathered on Nickerson Field for BU’s 150th Commencement.
When asked to give a teaser for his speech, Jones pauses for a moment. “I think it’s about how we have had our relationships tested to a great degree throughout undergrad, especially with a pandemic,” he says. “The speech is about how we will deal with the next challenge to our relationships, which is graduation.”
Earlier this month, Jones rehearsed in the George Sherman Union’s conference auditorium with Jason Campbell-Foster, associate provost and dean of students, and Danielle Staub, director of operations & strategic initiatives for the dean of students’ office. Campbell-Foster gave Jones some tips for delivering a speech in front of a big crowd.
Leading up to Sunday’s ceremony, Jones has been practicing as frequently as 10 times a day, but Campbell-Foster gave him strict instructions to halt all rehearsals after noon this Saturday. Once the other semantics were out of the way (don’t talk over your words, slow down, keep going if you screw up), the hyping began. It’s OK to feel nervous, Campbell-Foster assured Jones. But then adrenaline sets in.
“People are clapping for you, they’re paying attention, and you see the beach ball they aren’t supposed to have bopping around,” Campbell-Foster said. “You just start to realize that it’s nice. You were chosen from a group of people, so just lean into it. You’re delivering the message to your parents and your peers. Let those be the only people you need to worry about. Everyone else is just there for the ride. What you have written will resonate.”
While at BU, Jones studied business administration and management at the Questrom School of Business. Surprisingly, he paired his major with a minor in Italian Renaissance art history.
“To be honest, I took [art history] as a Hub credit freshman year, but after that first semester, I fell in love with it,” Jones says. “It became a nice balance to the business classes, to be able to come in and watch beautiful paintings in a slideshow for an hour or two every week. I wanted to do it to ultimately become more well-rounded.”
As a student, the business major started to become interested in medicine and studied surgical site infections as an intern at orthopedic labs at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and Mass General. “Being in Questrom helped form this very specific interest at the intersection of business and medicine,” Jones says. “And some of the programs out there at med schools that combine an MD with an MBA are very attractive. So one day in the future, I’d like to connect medicine and business somehow.” After graduation, he plans to enroll in a premedical postbaccalaureate program at Bryn Mawr as preparation for that journey.
When asked to reflect on his BU experience, Jones says his favorite part about his four years here has been the people he has met who carry “diverse experiences, which you might not get in other parts of the country,” he says. “It’s truly a very special place where you can hear people’s stories, learn from their strengths, and improve yourself.”
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Fighting Extremist Social Media with Social Media BU class campaign against online recruitment in US-sponsored competition
Steve Quigley’s COM class has built SAVE from the ground up as a social media campaign to help prevent extremist groups from recruiting young people online.
The campaign, created by the New Media and Public Relations class of Stephen Quigley, a College of Communication associate professor of public relations, is one of about 150 similar efforts entered in the Peer to Peer (P2P): Challenging Extremism competition put together by EdVenture Partners and sponsored by the US Departments of State and of Homeland Security and Facebook. On December 16, judges will choose six finalists, three US teams and three international teams, to travel to Washington, D.C., in February and present their campaigns in the competition’s final round. The first-place winners will take home $5,000 in scholarship money.
SAVE was developed by about 20 students with the aim of dissuading potential recruits to violence by employing the same social media tools—Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter—used by recruiting sites, but delivering a very different message. The campaign will feature messages about the harm extremist groups cause, the loss felt by parents of children who become extremists, and resources for those looking for help. The goal is not only to reach those who might be drawn to these extremist ideologies, but also to reach the people who are important to them—friends and family.
“We want to influence the influencers,” says Quigley (SED’87), who received a call in August from P2P asking if he was interested in entering his class this year. The answer was yes, although with some trepidation; he is not an expert on violent extremism. So, he teamed up with global terrorism expert Jessica Stern, a Pardee School of Global Studies professor. Stern says social media has become “a very important battleground,” for extremist efforts, one where the US government does not fight well.
“It is really important for young people to get involved in this fight,” she says. “We’ve seen middle-aged people in the State Department trying to develop counternarratives that appeal to 19-year-old kids who are getting recruited to these groups, and it has not worked. I think it is inspired to have young people get involved. It’s really good for the students and it’s really good for counterterrorism.”
Stern, who will carry the project over to her spring 2023 class Topics in International Relations, connected Quigley’s class with Parents for Peace, an NGO for parents whose children may be drawn to extremist ideologies. From there, the class created the idea of SAVE and ran with it, with only months to create a competitive campaign, while other teams had been building their projects for years.
“The beginning of November was when we really started getting into the nitty-gritty,” says Elle Hvozdovic (COM’17). “It was a little bit late, based on other people getting into campaigns, mostly because we had to spend so much time making sure that we understood the topic that we were campaigning for.”
“The more I stood back and let the students take the lead, the better it became,” says Quigley. What people don’t seem to realize, he says, is that many of the people who join these groups are not in some foreign country—they can be classmates, friends, and family.
A lot of extremists’ “target audience is college kids, most of them graduating,” says Hvozdovic. “They are vulnerable, they need guidance, they are struggling to find a job—it is a very stressful time in your life, and they really capitalize on that aspect of it.”
Several students say that they hope to see SAVE continue to grow after the class is over. And it just might—when Quigley and his class submitted their application, SAVE and its posts had 646 likes on Facebook, 577 on Twitter, and 2,000 on Instagram.
Ian Evans can be reached at [email protected].
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It took me quite a bit of time to complete this post, because all the pieces fell into place last week at CES. I interviewed Chris Brogan in mid December for the Search Exchange conference @SearchExchange, and ran into him at CES with some other folks. I broke up this post with the Q&A, my thoughts, and some pointers.
Robert: What things can you attribute to your success?
Chris: Helping people and having a platform/community to do it.
Lesson – Help others, and expect nothing back. Frequent forums, blogs, twitter, and other types of websites in your niche where interactions can occur between you and potential clients AND onlookers. Someone is always watching. You can do this on twitter by searching for keywords on chúng tôi and spending time answering questions! (great way to build followers)
Robert: What are one of the first things you notice when you meet another business professional?
Chris: All their teeth (LOL, I guess he doesn’t get along with football players). Do they talk about themselves or talk about others.
Lesson – Build a network with business professionals in your area and other states. LinkedIn is great in recommending others, and keeping in contact with people you have worked with. Think of others, and they will start thinking of you!
Robert: What’s the next social media platform you see people using?
Chris: BrightKite or location based social platforms
While at CES I met @AyaZook (Bing’s Product Manager), and he showed me Bing’s new product called Twitter Maps. Very Cool. Not only can you see where the profile is located, you can also see where a Tweet was originated. Now if Robbie tweets that he’s at some restaurant, I’ll know if he really is there…or just promoting them. 🙂
Lesson – Starting using location based apps so potential clients can see where you are, and may even stop by your place of business! If you own a business, you can promote specials like “Come to ABC Business and check in to Foursquare to receive free appetizer”. Customer gets free appetizer, and ABC Business gets YOU to tell your friends about ABC Business.
Robert: In your book Trusted Agents you speak about Joe Pistone aka Donnie Brasco hooking up with Lefty. If Lefty was on the web, how would you hook up with him? Who are the Lefty’s on the web?
Chris: Be Helpful…Give to get. Treat them like equals.
Chris: Frank Eliason, Comcast @comcastcares, Christopher Barger, GM @cbarger, Matt Cutts, Google, @MattCutts
Thoughts – One of the biggest dilemnas we have in our online/offline business is getting to the heavy hitters. They’re usually busy or won’t talk to you if you’re not important. Donnie Brasco worked his way up the mob, and learned the favorite spots of where the mobsters were hanging out. Twitter is a favorite spot for a lot of the heavy hitters which can provide fast/easy communication without going through hoops.
Lesson – Learn the online spots AND offline spots where the heavy hitters like to hangout. Chris mentioned @RShotel a Social Media Hub located in New York.
Lesson2 – If you can’t get the heavy hitter to respond to you on Twitter, then find out who they will respond to. Chris Brogan responds to a lot of people through twitter…even through Direct Messages. If he didn’t respond to anyone, I would go after his buddies like Kristopher Smith @croncast who was introduced to me at CES by Chris Brogan. When the heavy hitters see you interacting with their circle, you’re more than likely going to receive a response from them.
Robert: Why follow so many people or why shouldn’t you follow so many people?
Chris: Underfollow you’re the elitist, overfollow you’re a spammer, 1 to 1 ratio and you’re reciprocal.
Chris: Stay away from getting hacked
Thoughts – Getting hacked is a pain because you may ruin your chances with building business online. If you can’t protect your password info, then why should a client trust you with their information?
You can contact Robert Enriquez at his SEO Company site, through his twitter account @NC_SEO, or on his SEO Blog
The social media landscape looks a lot different today than it did just one week ago. After the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, most of the major social media companies took action against President Donald Trump and some of his supporters. Those moves have had a ripple effect that reaches the far corners of the internet and will likely continue for years to come. Here’s an updating overview of what’s happening—and how we got here.What kickstarted all of this?
On the night of Wednesday, January 6, Twitter suspended Trump’s account for 12 hours in response to several tweets about the day’s deadly events. The temporary action claimed that “Any future violations of the Twitter Rules, including our Civic Integrity or Violent Threats policies, will result in permanent suspension” of his account. The next day, Trump reemerged on the site for two more tweets, at which point Twitter dished out the permanent suspension.
On the 7th, Mark Zuckerberg issued a statement on his Facebook page issuing a ban on Trump for the remainder of his presidency. From there, other services fell in sequence, leaving the president—and some of his most vocal supporters—without a direct presence on the largest social media platforms. Those platforms now include YouTube, which deleted a video and prevented Trump from uploading content until next week and game streaming site, Twitch, which permanently disabled his account.What gives these platforms the right to ban the president?
The rules used to ban Trump aren’t new. In fact, some claim he’s been running afoul of well-established terms of service for the entirety of his term as president. In the case of Twitter’s ban, the company specifically cites two tweets made after Trump came back from his 12-hour time-out, including one about how he wouldn’t be attending Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20th.
According to Twitter, the company believed those messages ran afoul of its Glorification of Violence policy. The blog post outlines a number of factors that played into the ban, including the possibility that his tweet about skipping the inauguration could assure bad actors that they could target the event without concern that they would hurt Trump. Beyond that, Twitter also claims people were using the platform to plan “armed protests” around the country on January 17th.
From Facebook (and the Facebook-owned Instagram), Zuckerberg similarly suggests that the sitting president’s reaction to the riots was unproductive and possibly dangerous. “His decision to use his platform to condone rather than condemn the actions of his supporters at the Capitol building has rightly disturbed people in the US and around the world,” Zuckerberg wrote in his public post. “We removed these statements yesterday because we judged that their effect—and likely their intent—would be to provoke further violence.”
In both cases, the statements reference long-standing pieces of the terms of service and user agreements, which allow the companies to use their judgment when it comes to moderating content and suspending users.What is “Section 230” and what does it have to do with all of this?
In super-simplistic terms, Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act gives websites the ability to moderate objectionable, illegal, or dangerous user-generated content without having to face legal liability for that content. (Here’s a much more in-depth explanation from The Verge.)
The statute has come under heavy political criticism, particularly after Twitter began labeling Donald Trump’s tweets about election fraud as incomplete or possibly misleading. Politicians and pundits called for Section 230′s revocation—it even appeared in Mitch McConnell’s successful effort to block the $2,000 payments as part of the coronavirus relief package.
It’s not just one political party that hopes to reform—if not fully revoke—Section 230. Some of the most vocal critics of the statute before last year came from the Democratic side of the aisle, which believed that the social media platforms should have more liability when it comes to harmful content on their sites as an incentive to more proactively police practices like hate speech.
Now, with Democrats in control of Congress and the presidency, it’s unclear what that means for Section 230 going forward.Can’t Trump just make other accounts?
If Trump wanted to get into a game of whack-a-mole with the various platforms, he could. In fact, soon after his ban, he tried to use the official presidential Twitter account to continue sending out his messages. That runs afoul of a policy against ban evasion and the tweet was quickly deleted. In the case of a permanent suspension, “Twitter reserves the right to also permanently suspend any other account we believe the same account holder or entity may be operating in violation of our earlier suspension, regardless of when the other account was created.”Can’t Trump just go to another social media service, like Parler?
Parler promised of a truly open social media platform with an emphasis on free speech that would embody the “digital town square” where people could say whatever they want to a large extent. That also means moderation practices that are much more relaxed than those found on Twitter and Facebook. Over the weekend, both Apple and Google removed the app from their respective app stores, which prevented new users from downloading the app. Then, at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday night, Amazon Web Services revoked Parler’s hosting, which meant even users with the app or those willing to use a browser were out of luck for reaching and using the service.
According to Amazon, Parler was banned because of inadequate content moderation practices, which it feared would allow users to spread misinformation and plan violent or destructive events. Parler has filed a lawsuit, and Amazon has responded with a rather scathing document.
At present, just about all of Parler’s vendors have dropped the company from their services, which leaves the company in a difficult position. In an interview with Glenn Beck on Monday morning, a Parler representative claimed that there are several vendors looking to partner with Parler for various web services, but couldn’t confirm if or when the service will actually come back online. Reports claim that Parler will soon move to a domain registrar called Epik, which also hosts controversial services like Gab.
So, not only can Trump not use Parler—right now, no one can.Will that happen to other services?
A number of tech companies have revoked their support for Trump in other ways that are much less visible than the social media bannings. Stripe, for instance, will no longer process payments made to the Trump campaign through its official website.
As for other social media apps, their relationship with Apple and Google’s app stores has gotten more complicated. As Slate points out, platforms like YouTube and Facebook have provided groups with space to plan violent events and radicalize people like the Christchurch shooter, yet they haven’t been removed from the app stores.
Even the American Civil Liberties Union has expressed concern about the future of this kind of discourse. In a statement to Bloomberg, a representative from the ACLU said, “It should concern everyone when companies like Facebook and Twitter wield the unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions—especially when political realities make those decisions easier.”What happens now?
It seems safe to say that no one has any real definitive idea. Rumors suggest that Trump may use his last bit of time in office to try and punish the big tech platforms on his way out the door.
The big tech CEOs have made several appearances in front of Congress in the past year to talk about their moderation practices, discuss antitrust accusations, and serve as a backdrop for politicians to create sound bites of themselves grandstanding. These events will certainly only amplify that governmental pressure across the board.
By co-developing classroom norms and practicing reflection and feedback, you create a culture where students want to be included because their voice matters.
When I attend yoga classes, the instructor guides participants through a series of poses. An outsider unfamiliar with yoga might think the class was instructor-directed, with everyone moving through poses as they are called out. The truth is that people add or subtract movements based on their comfort, drive, and current capabilities. (My favorite is Child’s Pose to catch my breath before rejoining the flow of movements.) This culture where participants shape the class along with the instructor is something I’ve found in every yoga class that I’ve attended.
Education culture can be just as powerful when students, like yoga class participants, are encouraged to help shape what and how learning takes place every day. It requires teachers to view what students can do alongside us. I already explored this in Student-Centered Learning: It Starts With the Teacher.
There are many tools for establishing a culture of student voice. Here are some that are easy to implement as you launch your students’ journey.
Develop Norms Together
Norms are something different from the classroom rules that are meant to establish order. Norms provide students and teacher with a shared understanding of how they can best support each other in the learning process. Norms are behavior guides that can help the teacher and the other students in mentoring classmates who struggle with following the norms.
Norms exist whether or not they are addressed. A common unspoken norm for students is that when a teacher asks a question, if no one responds in one to three seconds, the teacher will cajole the class or answer the question him- or herself. Or maybe Sam in the front of the room will answer the question as usual. Norms go underground if students are not included in forming them. Consider these steps for creating classroom norms:
1. Students reflect and share examples of environments that they feel were positive, such as a sports team, church or scouting group, or family ritual.
2. In small groups, students unpack the examples for the behaviors that made the experience or vibe positive.
3. Use Think-Pair-Share to create a list of positive behaviors that would support a learning environment where everyone feels successful and supported.
4. Use team builders to identify behaviors. After each team builder, students reflect and share what skills were needed to be successful at the task.
5. The class collectively reduces the list to 4-7 norms, framed in positive, student-friendly language. Some examples might include:
All voices need to be heard.
Talk after two. (Translation: Each person must wait until two others say something before they can speak again.)
Presume positive intent. (In student-friendly language: “Would you say that to your mother?”)
Here are helpful resources for further exploration:
Practice Reflection and Feedback
Coach and provide opportunities for students to reflect and give feedback about curriculum, classroom culture, and classroom systems. Spending time on reflection and feedback sends a signal about what’s valued in this academic setting. Students need airtime about how the classroom operates if we expect them to care. Once they do engage, their ideas should be implemented. Otherwise, student culture will go underground where no teacher authority can reach.
Here are strategies that promote student reflection and feedback. The key is having them share in the determination of topics as the focus.
Question Formulation Technique: Coach students on how to ask good questions and which to use depending on the circumstance and need. Use the Right Question Institute’s rich resources, or start with these these articles from Opening Paths.
Morning Meeting: Dialog provides a powerful voice for students reflecting on the current climate and needs. It’s also good for reviewing their shared experiences at the end of the day, or for celebrations and concerns. The experience is valuable for all ages.
Journaling: Writing reflections can be a tool for students to work through their thoughts and emotions before sharing a distillation to groups and/or the teacher.
Surveys: Individual and anonymous feedback enables students to give focused responses to classroom culture concerns. It’s important to give the class opportunities for reviewing and analyzing the results together. For quick turnarounds, use social media survey tools.
Protocols for Reflection and Feedback: There are many protocols that help students work on active listening and ensure that every voice gets airtime. Using protocols creates a safe environment for students to express their thoughts and suggestions in constructive and supportive language. Some examples to explore are:
Valued Culture = Student Engagement
Students value a classroom or school culture where they feel cared about. Ask any student, “Who did you have your favorite learning experiences with?” It’s always with a teacher about whom they’ll eventually say, “She believed in me,” or “He listened to us.” When students want to spend time in a classroom after school or during lunch, something positive is going on. Using the above strategies for norms, reflection, and feedback can help create a culture where students want to be included because their voice matters.
What firmly establishes a culture of student voice is giving them charge of how they learn, including development of assessments and products for learning outcomes (the focus of my next post). It’s similar to those yoga classes where participants craft their own movements that, while different from the instructor’s directions, achieve the common need of maintaining the breath and self-challenge. Teachers who co-create a culture of student voice are setting the foundation for students owning their own learning.
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