Social Media Gets Intergrated into the Mainstream

“The use of blogs and other social media tools has become increasingly popular, and in some cases a prerequisite, in both academic and work settings.”
-Maya Kohli for Tufts University

A recent study released by Faculty Focus, an online tool for higher education employees, showed that college professors and teachers are using new forms of social media to communicate with students.

The survey, which particularly stated one-third of higher education professionals use Twitter to communicate with students and as a classroom educational tool, illustrates another step forward into future media. According to Kohli of Tufts University, the integration of social media into academics is because in a short time, social media will be expected of candidates to be hired in the current job market.

Specifically at Tufts University, professors have incorporated blogs into classwork (much like this blog did at Shippensburg University) and have required students to create their own and read classmate blogs. The focus, again like this blog, is to provide interesting links to Web sites and videos that would supplement class readings and concepts.

Julie Dobrow, the director of the Communications and Media Studies program at Tufts, believes that in order for students to analyze new and emerging media, they need engage in it. She said not only do students need to read and understand it, but they need to know how to be producers of new media.

However, this just isn’t something that is present at Tufts University and no where else. Business schools such as Harvard Business School, UPenn’s Wharton School and MIT’s Sloan School of Management have begun incorporating social media into their curricula. Other teachers and professors across the nation have jumped on the bandwagon as well as they tend to believe most of the content that will be written with students’ future jobs will be online.

Furthermore, the work is not just in blogs, as Twitter and Facebook are being taught to students as an effective tool to keep the public in the loop about headlines and key news events. journalist Maria Ortiz said, “In journalism if you don’t know how to use Twitter or how to blog or promote things on Facebook, you will be behind everyone else.”

The future of media literacy starts here as colleges are making steps to new media by teaching those who will be working in the media. Perhaps this will be a jumping-off point for other educators to follow trickling down to high schools, middles schools and elementary schools?

Social media networks become increasingly integrated into academics, job market

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Action Step 7: Research and Assessment

Research and Assessment

As outlined in my previous post, development of the seventh step in supporting Media Literacy includes the following step:

  1. Develop online measures of media and digital literacy to assess learning progression and develop online video documentation of digital and media literacy instructional strategies to build expertise in teacher education.

The following is an examples of how central Pennsylvania programs can implement this step into the curriculum of high school media literacy education:

  1. Developing assessments across multiple media formats is a particularly difficult challenge, but some instructors have made resources available to help assess some common media platforms. The Center for Media Literacy‘s website has a page devoted to assessment information. Within this page, they have a workshop report by Chris Worsnop in which he outlines steps and important considerations for assessing media literacy in curriculum.

“As a featured part of the seminar, Chris shared some of the detailed rubrics and other tools which he has developed. These include specific traits that teachers can look for in different components of student work:

  1. ideas and content of the piece,
  2. its organization and structure,
  3. how effectively the piece uses the language and rhetoric of its medium,
  4. how the author’s voice is present in the piece and how it connects with the audience,
  5. technical competence or how well the author has handled the conventions and the technology of the genre or technology.

This information has helped library source information in the Springfield Township High School library resource center. Their website on information literacy includes assessment tools for information media literacy included with media literacy information. The use of a site known as TRAILS helps the media assessment process and is an online tool to help teachers across the country access media literacy assessment information. “This Web-based system was developed to provide an easily accessible and flexible tool for school librarians and teachers to identify strengths and weaknesses in the information-seeking skills of their students. There is no charge for using TRAILS.”

Posted in Freshman Curriculum, High School, Junior Curriculum, Multimedia, Senior Curriculum, Sophomore Curriculum | Leave a comment

Where do we go from here?

While news media is growing according to the 2010 State of the Media, there is no telling what people will need to know in order to continue to get their news in the future.

Will social media like Facebook and Twitter replace what we know and how we get our news? Will a new form of media come out that will revolutionize the industry? Or will all of the technology that has moved the news to Web suddenly die and call for a revolution back to print media, radio and television news?

While many of these scenarios are unlikely, one thing is for sure according to the 2010 State of the Media trends… The cutbacks in old media during the recession will ultimately affect today’s consumers of news as traditional media content still prevails be it on the Web or in print media. What that means for the consumer is while audience statistics show 80 percent of traffic online is to 7 percent of the tops news sites, many of the top news sites are tied to legacy media. When the legacy media cutback in the traditional media forms, it has an additional effect to what people will see online.

As for media literacy, right now while the industry is holding steady, there is nothing that needs to be changed on how people are understanding and getting their news. However, with the evolution of news and heading into the future that may all change.

2010 State of the Media Overview and Major Trends

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Action Step 4-6: Develop Partnerships for Teacher Education

Develop Partnerships for Teacher Education

As outlined in my previous post, development of the fourth, fifth, & sixth steps in supporting Media Literacy include the following steps:

  1. Support interdisciplinary bridge building in higher education to integrate core principles of digital and media literacy education into teacher preparation programs.
  2. Create district-level initiatives that support digital and media literacy across K–12 via community and media partnerships.
  3. Partner with media and technology companies to bring local and national news media more fully into education programs in ways that promote civic engagement.

The following are examples of central Pennsylvania programs implementing these steps into resources and curriculum for media literacy into their high school education.

  1. The Lancaster Intermediate Unit is one example of how a central Pennsylvania school region is collaborating AND building an interdisciplinary bridge to promote media literacy via online resources like iTunesU within their educational program. I spoke with Stephanie Sweeney, she’s a librarian at the ELANCO School District, about how she integrates media literacy, and she spoke about how within her district Media literacy falls hand-in-hand with instructional technology. She mentioned monthly meetings where district representatives met to discuss curriculum and technology developments. She mentioned a few podcasts explaining how the district technology resources are used in conjunction with media resources to educate not only students, but other faculty members as well. Those tech and media resources are integrated into standards and practices, which help students use the library as a more functional tool. She presented this information in May of 2010 with her colleagues at an interdisciplinary meeting regarding curriculum for high school students. You can view her presentation here, via iTunes. She outlines class level curriculum goals for each year, and demonstrates the steps she’s taken to include media literacy in her curriculum.
  2. Many local radio stations are partnering with schools to promote media literacy, and WITF in central Pennsylvania is just another example. Recently WITF has involved students in the discussion and problem-solving of a serious issue involving “sexting”. Their program Smart Talk recently spoke with students about the dangers of sexting, and offered them a professional forum to discuss the issue. Students benefited from the professional engagement, and offered important insight into the growing phenomenon. WITF also made several attempts to engage the school districts with media literacy. In 2008 WITF engaged with students to offer a professional opportunity of journalism through its reACT program. This video demonstrates how WITF tried to partner with students in the community to develop a journalism exchange, where students were the primary participants in the process of news:
Posted in Freshman Curriculum, High School, Junior Curriculum, Multimedia, Senior Curriculum, Sophomore Curriculum | Leave a comment

Newspaper headlines: A lesson for Middle Schoolers

Frequently, during the middle school years, students will participate in a civics class. According to the Center for Civic Education and the National Conference of State Legislature (1996), the goal of civics class is to increase students’ knowledge of American government and develop civic participation in society. An effective way to remain up-to-date on current affairs is by reading newspapers. A newspaper subscription is often made available for each student to promote this essential civic activity.

According to Fico and Freedman (2001), “Agenda-setting research has established that news media attention to issues subsequently influences the public’s assessment of the importance of those issues” (p.1). An important lesson for middle school students includes learning that the media has an influence over how the public interprets news. Students should realize that a news organization cannot be completely objective (Curriculum Corporation, n.d.). Editors try to influence people in subtle ways to show what news stories are more valuable than others. Students need to think critically about how an editor’s decisions will affect how people interpret the news and participate in society.

First, have students look at the front page of the newspaper. Ask them what stands out, or what looks different from story to story. A common practice for news organizations is to print each story headline with a different font, font size, or boldness (Curriculum Corporation, n.d.). Ask students why they think this is the case. This is a conscious decision made by the editors to encourage the audience to rank the stories as their attention shifts down the pages. Explain to students that the more prominent stories are at the top with the largest headlines. As your eyes move down the page, the headlines become smaller, though importance is still differentiated by even just a slight boldness of the headline.

Explain that photos can help an article grab the reader’s attention and therefore seem more important. Placement on page also helps the editor to delineate which news stories are most important. Stories printed at the top of the front page are more significant that those at the bottom. This is true of stories in the entire newspaper. Typically, newspaper articles that appear closest to the front page or within the first section are those that editors consider to be the most important and relevant to their readers.

If possible, obtain another newspaper from the same day for the students to compare how two news organizations chose to present the news (Curriculum Corporation, n.d.). Have students note differences and similarities. Is the main article the same? How do the headlines compare? Have students question if they agree with the editor(s). Do students consider the stories that the editor chose for the front page the most important? Why do they think the editor choose them? How might the editors’ decisions affect how people think about society?


Center for Civic Education, & National Conference of State Legislatures (1996). We the People… Project Citizen: A Civic Education Project for Grades 6 through 9.

Curriculum Corporation (n.d.). Stop press! Newspaper headlines. Retrieved from:

Fico, F., & Freedman, E. (2001). Setting the news story agenda: Candidates and commentators in news coverage of a governor’s race. J&MC Quarterly, 78(3), 437-449.

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Action Step 2-3: Digital and Media Literacy: a Plan of action

Digital and Media Literacy: a Plan of action

As outlined in my previous post, development of the second & third step in supporting Media Literacy includes the following steps:

  • Support a national network of summer learning programs to integrate digital and media literacy into public charter schools.
  • Support a Digital and Media Literacy (DML) Youth Corps to bring digital and media literacy to under-served communities and special populations via public libraries, museums and other community centers.

The following are examples of how central Pennsylvania programs can implement these steps into resources and curriculum for media literacy in their education.

  1. This summer Temple University will be hosting a national conference on Media Literacy supported by the media lab and in support of the NAMLE. Click here for sign up details and more information.
  2. This third option is a bit more difficult, but an excellent resource to develop here in Pennsylvania.  A great model program developing in New York is a program called Project LAMP. Project LAMP has organized after-school media literacy programs which involve the community and support the education outside of the classroom. They work with K-12 populations and develop media projects, which not only educate, but also serve a community service. Check out a community video produced by project participants involved in the LAMP organization.
Posted in Freshman Curriculum, High School, Junior Curriculum, Multimedia, Senior Curriculum, Sophomore Curriculum | 1 Comment

Action Step 1: Support Community-Level Digital and Media Literacy Initiatives

As outlined in my previous post, development the first step in supporting Media Literacy includes the following step:

  1. Map existing community resources and offer small grants to promote community partnerships to integrate digital and media literacy competencies into existing programs.

The following is an example of central Pennsylvania programs implementing this step into resources and curriculum for media literacy in their education.

  1. CASA: CASA offers intensive instruction in visual art, dance, music, theatre, and film and video to qualified high school students in the CAIU (over 150 students from 24 different high schools). Located on the first floor of Strawberry Square, the school uses the city of Harrisburg as its “classroom”, affording its students access to the numerous resources located downtown, and utilizing a yearly theme based on the urban environment. CASA has worked as an extension of media literacy in an alternative educational environment that supports traditional academic settings. You can see examples of their success through the site’s gallery here.
Posted in Freshman Curriculum, High School, Junior Curriculum, Multimedia, Senior Curriculum, Sophomore Curriculum | Leave a comment