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Autumn Update from HOME: Media Literacy Week, Teacher Survey & More Workshops!

Hello everyone!

With the 2016-2017 School Year off to a great start here in Montreal, we have much to report from HOME.  (Isn't our Hands On Media Education acronym so good?!) 

Where to start...

Our free workshop contest and Teacher Survey has been very informative for us, with over 30 teachers responding with how they use technology in the classroom.  Did you know 100% of our teacher respondents use some kind of tech in the classroom, but 86.2% are wanting to learn more about media literacy and hands-on workshops at future Professional Development opportunities??  Luckily for them, this is why we exist, and we are excited to help them grow and learn soon.    Contest deadline is October 31st 2016, so please share the survey, and help us serve Canadian educators as best we can! 

Our new workshop season got off with a bang, starting with a great partnership with Vallum Poetry Magazine to deliver several iPad Stop Motion Animation + Poetry Workshops at the alternative outreach highschool Perspectives II.  Each group of students pre-selected a poem which they used as inspiration for their animations, and then worked as a team to develop a story and storyboard.  They then created their own clay characters, and took a series of images using iPads.  Sound, titles and credits were added, followed by a group screening of their final productions, and what an incredible and inspiring collection of work they produced!  Stories of break-ups, daydreaming, and Black Lives Matter are just a few examples.  Take a look at one here, titled "The Flower of Love". 

November is going to be one of our busiest months, as the word has spread throughout the EMSB of our workshops, and so have several booked with Perspectives I, II and Venture in Verdun.  We also have the exciting news of Media Literacy Week, a national Media Literacy and Education campaign October 31st - November 5th 2016.

Because the theme of MWL this year is "Makers & Creators" our HOME workshops are a perfect fit, and as such, have been invited to collaborate on a few exciting events.

Thursday Nov. 3: In partnership with kidsCODEjeunesse, we are hosting 4 FREE student workshops @ Notman House, delivering iPad Stop Motion Animation & Coding for kids in both English et en francais.  Nearby schools have already been invited and registered.

Saturday Nov. 5: In partnership with Rubika, we are pleased to host a FREE Digital Storytelling for Educators, and there are still a few spots available!  Register through Eventbrite here.   

If you are interested in learning how we can help you, your staff and students incorporate technology into the classroom or workspace through engaging, educational and fun activities, please get in touch!  We would be happy to speak with you about how our hands-on, customized and effective workshops can bring 21st century skills and learning to any pedagogical objective.

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Join us! Digital Storytelling for Educators Workshop: Nov. 5, 2016 in Montreal

Forget about Thanksgiving, Halloween, or even New Year’s Eve. The most exciting festivity of the year is upon us: that’s right, it’s Media Literacy Week from Oct. 30 to Nov. 4, 2016! At the tail end of this exciting week of awareness and education about media literacy, Hands on Media is offering a FREE bilingual Digital Storytelling for Educators workshop in Montreal on Nov. 5, 2016.

Thanks to our partners at Rubika, an awesome design, animation, and video game education institution, we’ve got a space in which to present our hottest tips, tricks, and best practices in digital storytelling.

Are you an educator who wants to incorporate digital media and digital storytelling into your classroom? Not sure where to start? Our workshop will introduce you to activities, tools, and techniques that will help stimulate your student’s excitement about digital creativity, media literacy, and personal storytelling.

Join us for this FREE 5-hour workshop (but bring your own iPad or laptop, please!) and discover the power of telling personal narratives through digital media, whether it’s video, audio, animation, photography, text, or a multimedia project.  This workshop is a great opportunity for educators to develop their technology know-how and practice their skills for classroom application.

What can your students gain from learning how to tell stories with digital tools? The benefits are proven. Students will become familiar with the digital tools they’ll need to use for all aspects of their lives, whether in personal, academic, or professional realms. They’ll gain the confidence to express their opinions and share their experiences. They’ll boost their communication skills and unlock their creative potential.

Want to know more about the power of digital storytelling? We’ve written about the empowering effects of digital storytelling for girls and women, the learning benefits of digital media for kids with special needs, and the career potential of developing facility with digital tools in early life. Finally, check out this article by Hands On Media Director Jessie Curell. Jessie explains why digital storytelling is accessible, easy, fun, and most of all—highly educational.

All the details of the Digital Storytelling Workshop are in our Eventbrite calendar, so make sure you note the date, time, and location. While the workshop is free, registration is required, so go ahead and sign up right now. Note: this workshop is appropriate for educators of students aged 12 and up.

And in case you’re wondering: this workshop and its activities are relatively easy to execute for even the most techno-phobic teacher. There’s no time like the present to bolster your own digital and technological skills, while also gaining insight, skills, and confidence you can share with your students. See you there!

Girls and women in digital media: from passive consumption to critical creation

By Jovana Jankovic

Research has repeatedly shown that the quantity and quality of media representations of girls and women are staggeringly low. Female characters in film, video games, and all sorts of online content are often trivialized, sexualized, and stereotyped (when they do appear at all). There is evidence that these problematic media messages make it hard for girls to negotiate the transition to adulthood, as they take their cues from oversimplified and vapid representations of women on-screen.

How can adults—especially educators, teachers, and other influencers—give girls the skills and information to understand media representations critically and to develop a more holistic, healthy self-image as they transition through puberty and into adulthood? One way is to encourage girls and young women to become active creators of their own culture and representations by gaining access to the tools, technologies, and knowledge required to create (rather than simply consume) digital media products. As Rebekah Willett writes, “media, particularly new digital media, offer young people the chance to be powerful and to express their creativity as media producers. In this view, young people are doing important identity work—finding like-minded peers, exploring issues around gender, race, and sexuality; and defining themselves as experts within particular communities.”

Fun fact: our very own Jessie Curell, the brains behind Hands on Media, completed a Master's project at Ryerson University in which she conducted a cross-Canada tour teaching teenage girls about feminism, media literacy, and media production in 15 communities, all the way from Victoria to St. John's, in order to “empower girls to tell their own stories, be their own experts, think critically, develop positive friendships, and build skills.”

Jessie’s passion for introducing girls and young women to active, creative, and critical digital media production has borne an exciting new collaboration: Hands on Media will soon be partnering with Girls Art League to bring technological aptitude and artistic creativity together to educate and empower girls and young women through digital media creation and the visual arts. Stay tuned for more details on our fruitful collaboration!

The STEM industries (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and ICT sectors (information and communications technologies) have traditionally been stereotyped as distinctly “male” endeavors, so the stigma and lack of encouragement is already there for girls, even before they may have begun to explore their interests in (and aptitude for) digital creativity. This handy literature review notes that “gender and other stereotypes may lead women and girls to think that ICTs are reserved for men or for elites, or to doubt their ability to learn new skills, or participate in new activities or the public domain.” It’s incredibly important that we encourage and support our girls and young women, including transgender girls and women and genderqueer/gender non-conforming young people, to take the reins of contemporary communications technologies and create voices, images, and stories about themselves that reflect their own realities.

No skills education is complete, however, without the encouragement, context, and support required for girls to continually use those skills. Unfortunately, the online space remains an often unsafe one for women’s and girls’ voices: everything from trolling to cyberbullying to sexual harassment, “revenge porn”, and threats of rape and death remain a common experience for many women and girls who are active (and creative) in online spaces. Researchers have found that women receive twice as many death threats and threats of sexual violence online as men do. This unjust reality may result in girls and women ceasing to engage in digital content creation, despite the fact that they demonstrate an aptitude for, and interest in, digital tools. Teaching both boys and girls about constructive, respectful, and fruitful online discourse is paramount to curbing the cycle of sexist harassment that the anonymity of the internet has unfortunately engendered.

Whether students are using digital tools for the purpose of technological learning or creative expression, equity for and access to digital tools should reflect the diversity of experiences of the people who use them. We look forward to bringing our educators, students, and communities new learning opportunities for girls and young women in the digital space.

As we mark a milestone, digital skills and tools take centre stage in Canada’s future

By Jovana Jankovic

A Model for Digital Literacy

A Model for Digital Literacy

In 2017, Canada will mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation. As part of this milestone, the federal government launched Digital Canada 150 (DC150) back in 2010—a comprehensive plan to provide all Canadians with the digital skills and tools required to navigate our future. Within the DC150 initiative, public consultations were sought from stakeholders in the media literacy, digital technology, business, policy, research, journalism, and education sectors, and more than two thousand Canadian individuals and organizations shared their ideas!
But perhaps most interesting for us here at Hands on Media was the submission from our friends at Media Smarts (formerly the Media Awareness Network) titled “Digital Literacy in Canada: From Inclusion to Transformation”.

Here’s the tl;dr (you’re welcome!)

  • Digital literacy skill development in young people must be a cornerstone of government strategy, to ensure that Canada is creating citizens who can think critically about digital content and use digital technologies to their full extent. Media Smarts calls upon the government to create a National Digital Literacy Strategy, which includes consulting with a broad group of stakeholders, policy-makers, and researchers.
  • Citizens already use digital technologies to navigate through all aspects of their lives, from healthcare to news media to the workplace and beyond. The influence of digital technologies over our lives will only increase in the future. How can we ensure that our population keeps up? As the report says, “the issue for Canadians is no longer if we use digital technology but how well we use it.”
  • Recommendations include: compiling a comprehensive list of existing media education and media literacy bodies nationwide, as well as a comparison of similar programs in parallel jurisdictions like the United States and the United Kingdom.
  • K-12 and post-secondary learning institutions are a target for prime media education and media literacy initiatives; while the government has invested in developing technology and building infrastructure, it has not balanced these investments with developing the skills and knowledge needed by Canadians to use technologies safely and effectively.  Definitely take a look at a fantastic Digital Literacy Framework created by MediaSmarts.
  • “Digital literacy” doesn’t only mean being able to view and read digital content critically, but also includes the more complex and nuanced abilities to create and produce a wide range of content with digital tools. Citizens and students should be able to create “rich media such as images, video, and sound; and to effectively and responsibly engage with Web 2.0 user‐generated content such as blogs and discussion forums, video and photo sharing, social gaming, and other forms of social media.”
  • Barriers to digital literacy are important to address. While there’s a common stereotype that all younger people are digitally savvy while older people are clumsy and unfamiliar with digital technology, there is far too much variety within each generation to make this kind of simplistic assertion. Many factors including geography (and infrastructure), socio-economic status (and access to equipment), and language barriers (such as those experienced by recent immigrants) can be the cause of varying levels of digital literacy and competency.
  • While some educators have been wary of bringing technology into the classroom, evidence shows that digital technologies are an integral part of interpersonal learning between students and teachers. Technologies can provide platforms for collaboration and tools for organization. As the report states, “Excluding digital media from schools creates a potentially damaging split between educational and personal experience. Digital media are a knowledge technology; keeping them out of the classroom creates a significant dissonance in how youth gather and share knowledge.”
  • The career value of digital technology education is high. Many small and medium-sized businesses have been slow to adopt digital technologies in their internal operations, or to establish a web presence or move their businesses online by developing e‐commerce capabilities. This means students educated in harnessing and deploying digital technologies will have a distinct advantage in the workplace, as they can offer lagging businesses the tools and skills to make them competitive in the global marketplace.

If you have more free time, you can explore the full report here. Yes, it’s quite long, but it contains some excellent research and recommendations on how all stakeholders—government, academia, educators, business owners, councils on learning, ministries of education, industry organizations, library associations, and institutes for information technology and digital media—can assist the next generation of Canadians in using, understanding, and developing digital media literacy and digital technology skills for the successful future of all Canadians.

Interested in learning more about how to incorporate technology and digital media literacy into your learning environment? Check out Hands On Media’s selection of student workshops, or inquire about our curriculum consultation services if you’re looking to address a particular area of specialization.
Contact us and we can work together to make sure your students are becoming responsible, creative, and engaged digital citizens!