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digital media production

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Back from a Sexism & Hip Hop Workshop in Toronto; Now off to Korea and Japan!

Social Media Training 101: if you're going to post a new blog, don't do it Friday.  Tuesday or Wednesday are sweet spots, as folks are more awake than Monday, have a bit more free time to read and learn, but by Thursday afternoon and all-day Friday, don't even bother trying to attract anyone's attention.  Most people are distracted and counting down the hours until the weekend.

Here I am writing to you on a Tuesday, but I so desperately wanted to throw that rule out when I returned from Toronto last week and started writing this blog Friday: I wanted to share this recent workshop with you as soon as I could! 

York Prof of Cinema, Art Curator and all-around Toronto powerhouse Janine Marchessault asked us to deliver a customized workshop to a class of Grade 11 & 12 Photography students at John Polanyi Collegiate in the Lawrence Heights neighbourhood of Toronto.  The idea was teach the students how to create their own Digital Stories, using a recent talk they participated in with famed hip hop music video director Director X as a starting point.  In the talk, X was generous to share his history, experience and ideas for aspiring artists and music video directors with the students.  One student then asked him about the women he chooses for his videos, asking if he thinks the fact he only chooses one "type" of woman for his videos as problematic.  He replied with a "if they want to dress and dance like that, I won't stand in their way" response, accepting no responsibility for his role as a creator in perpetuating this very narrow and typical objectification of women.

I was asked to use this response as a starting point of discussion with the students, introducing Media Literacy through themes of Patriarchy, Feminism & Misogyny, as evidenced in many hip hop music videos.    I asked my friend and Toronto music video director Sammy Rawal to join me, providing context through his experience, plus his insight into the responsibility he feels as a creator of media.

We then asked the students to reflect on these themes, and formulate their opinion, thoughts and message through the creation of a Digital Story.  And what a job they did!  I literally had tears in my eyes during our group screening at the end of the workshop.  The students were so creative, thoughtful, intelligent and powerful in their messages.  Stories of harassment in their schools, homes, and in gym class.  Messages of power and resistance to these same treatments, with a resolve to overcome these unfair prejudices so that they can act and dream to become the adults they want to be. 

Now that we are back from Toronto, we are preparing for our upcoming trip to Korea and Japan, where we will be researching their own approach to Media Education, while delivering 2 workshops in Osaka to Japanese Association for Language Teaching professors.  We might even get a chance to take a bit of a vacation--can you imagine?

Stay tuned for news from the tour, plus many exciting workshops, contracts, & Spring Break camps to be announced!  We are booking up quickly for Spring 2017, but still have a few spots open if you are interested in booking a workshop for your staff, students, organization or community center. Have a great rest of the year, and we wish you and your students a wonderful end-of-semester!

 

 

 

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Teachers and Tech: Our HOME Teacher Survey Results

Two months ago we created a Teacher Survey to learn more about how K-12 teachers in the Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa areas are using technology as an educational tool in their classrooms. By filling out our survey, teachers were also entered into a contest to win a Free iPad Stop-Motion Animation Workshop at their school! While we finalize the winner we wanted to share some of our survey findings!

First of all, we were so excited to see that 100% of the teachers that filled out our survey use some form of technology in their classroom and over half of the respondents also stated that they actually allow their students to use their own devices for learning purposes in the classroom!

Also, while only 27.5% of teachers reported having participated in any kind of media and/or technology Professional Development session, an even lesser 6.7% reported that their students had access to any similar type of Media Literacy workshops or training. This suggests that there is a disconnect between teacher media training and a follow through to their students. Many Professional Development workshops are also lecture-based and offer little to no hands-on training.

We also found out that 51.7% of the teachers are using technology every single day at their school while another 44.8% using technology 1-3 times a week.  A whopping 86% said that they would benefit from hands-on training to help them learn ways to teach Media and Digital Literacy in their classroom.

We wanted to see what kind of restrictions teachers face with technology on a day-to-day basis so we asked them what they would benefit from and what problems they are currently facing when it comes to Media Literacy training in the classroom. One teacher commented “Technology is changing so fast and as much as I'd like to, I can't keep up. I would love for my students to get more instruction that is as current as possible in their ever-changing world”. We at Hands On Media know that the constantly changing nature of technology can be overwhelming for teachers! New apps, platforms and interactive media are always emerging and we believe that teachers would truly benefit from the opportunity to learn how to use these tools.

Another teacher stated, “We are told to incorporate more media and digital literacy into our teaching but we lack resources”. A common complaint we have heard from hundreds of teachers, which we know can be a very frustrating reality.

We found that there were a lot of teachers who do not know how to incorporate the already existing technology into their classrooms or feel they lack the technology itself. When we asked to describe if they would benefit from a hands-on instructional workshop on how to incorporate Media Literacy, Digital Literacy, iPads and laptops into their curriculum, almost all responded "YES!". The responses ranged from a desire for technical iPad training, to learning how to teach Digital Storytelling, to learning about Media Literacy more generally.

There is an immediate demand from educators for help with the integration of technology into the classroom learning experience and we are happy to be ale to provide teachers with the help they so desperately need.

Contact us now for more information on how we can provide you, your staff and students practical, educational and effective tools and activities for technological integration for the classroom.  Together, we can help bridge the digital divide we know so many students and teachers are experiencing.

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Lester B. Pearson School Board & "The Digital Citizenship Program"

In 2011, Montreal's Lester B Pearson School Board (LBPSB)  launched an innovative new initiative called The Digital Citizenship Program, making it the first and only school board in Quebec to officially recognize the importance of media education and technology in the classroom. The program calls for all 56 of their elementary, secondary, and continuing education schools to implement media literacy training into their curricula in order to provide students with a productive experience with technology that can be very beneficial outside of the classroom and later in life. As technological interfaces become increasingly present within a child’s everyday experiences it is important to teach them that screens and interactive media are not merely a distraction or a reward, but are something that can be used to learn and create.

A school board recognizing the importance of teaching its students how to appropriately and positively interact with different technology is a major feat as many schools today not only exclude modern technologies in their schools, but ban them altogether. Instead of being treated as something dangerous and disctracting, LBPSB acknowledges that technology is a powerful teaching tool and that it is time to bring education into the contemporary era. As they explain, "Digital citizenship can be described as the norms for appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use." Some incredible (and free) digital literacy resources found on the program website can be found here!

While we were very excited to find out about the Digital Citizenship program, we wanted to see if and how the schools in the LBPSB had implemented any technologies or media tools into their curricula. After some digging we were surprised to find that only 25 out of 56 (44%) of the schools had implemented the technological requirements, according to their latest annual reports. Many of the schools are using iPads, Smartboards and laptops in various classes but some have gone even further, creating a media-based program or class. For instance, Macdonald High School has a whole class dedicated to Digital Citizenship and Westwood Jr High School has a ‘Matrix’ program which has implemented technology in all core classes. Though the schools that are following the school board’s recommendations appear to be on the right track, there are still 31 schools that either have plans to incorporate the Digital Citizenship program or do not mention it at all.

Hands On Media workshops are a great start for these schools and would also benefit those which already teach with technology. Our workshops teach students how to think critically about the media we are consuming and creating, while simultaneously providing teachers with effective educational tools to continue to incorporate media into their curriculum long after we have gone.

We applaud the LSPSB’s Digital Citizenship program as a model for the education system in Canada, and are here to help other school boards across Quebec and Canada embrace media in the classroom, using these powerful tools to create a media and digital literate generation.

Is there an IT skills gap in Canada? Introducing digital skills and careers in the classroom

By Jovana Jankovic

Today, we bring you some business news and its relevance to the digital media literacy we practice and preach here at Hands On Media. Did you know that some experts worry we are in the midst of a widening IT skills gap in Canada? Many industry insiders report that Canada just isn't competitive in the global marketplace when it comes to technology. We can change this for the next generation by starting youngsters off early and bringing digital literacy and tech skills into the classroom. The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), the governing body that administers the .ca domain, just released a new report called “From Broadband Access to Smart Economies: Technology, skills and Canada’s future.” You can read the full report here, but here are a couple of key takeaways:

* Many large Canadian IT companies surveyed in this report say that it’s difficult for them to find the talent they need in Canada — 40% of respondents report they had trouble recruiting IT professionals with the right skills.

* 49% of respondents believe that Canadian technology companies are not adequately equipped to compete in the global marketplace, while 75% stated the importance of “made-in-Canada” solutions for the kinds of technology challenges Canada faces today and in the near future.

A few weeks ago, the CIRA held their sixth annual Canadian Internet Forum at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa. A number of panelists and speakers expressed concern that the digital literacy skills gap is widening in Canada. According to the Ottawa Business Journal, “panelist Tanya Woods, vice-president of policy and legal affairs for the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, said a lack of digital literacy in young Canadians from kindergarten to post-secondary school will negatively affect the IT industry in the years ahead.”

The panel on which Ms. Woods spoke was particular focused on the current state and future potential of the multi-platform video game industry. Did you know that Canada’s video game industry grew by 31% between 2013 and 2015? The industry currently contributes $3 billion to the country’s GDP—and yet talent is hard to find. Young people interested in technology may be pleased to learn that video games, a beloved form of leisure, could present a very real and rewarding career opportunity for them in the future!

So, how do we jump-start the process of a lifelong commitment to learning about technology (and digital media in particular)? Educators, with the help of our in-class student workshops, can act as "media mentors," engaging with kids to encourage them to use technology in creative, active, and interesting ways, rather than simply passively consuming media. Setting up this active engagement encourages kids to then “mess around” on their own with digital media tools—experimenting with new tools and developing new skills that will eventually be highly sought-after in a professional setting.

A recent report by the Information and Communications Technology Council of Canada asserts that “Canada simply does not have enough young people selecting STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) disciplines in school nor ICT (information and communications technology) as a career choice to meet its current and future needs.”

Let’s change this by bringing technology and digital media creation tools into the classroom now! Young people already think of digital media devices as a daily part of their lives, but getting them to think of these tools and activities as not simply a form of leisure but as a viable and rewarding career choice can shrink Canada’s IT skills gap in one generation. Learn more about our in-class workshops here.

Yes it is summertime, but you can begin to plan your students’ digital media education for the 2016-2017 academic year now!

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!

 

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Today’s Students, Today’s Needs: Key Areas of Specialization for Educators’ Professional Development

By Jovana Jankovic

The end of June marks the final days of classes for elementary and secondary students in most school boards throughout Canada and the US. As educators consider professional development opportunities for the new school year beginning in September, it’s important to keep in mind that the most effective professional development is the kind that helps educators focus on the needs of their students.

What are the most pressing needs of today’s young people? Are there gaps in your curriculum that could be filled by addressing emerging contemporary topics and skills? Obviously, the convenience, ubiquity, and constant access to mobile digital devices have strongly impacted the ways in which we communicate with, interact with, and analyze the world around us. Critical media literacy and an understanding of digital media technology are crucial skills for today’s young people to develop, and many school boards have yet to formalize these subjects into their core curricula.

Teaching students about digital storytelling, audio-visual production, new communications technologies, digital animation, critical media literacy, and the history and current state of media creation has been shown to have many positive effects. These effects include: mindful technology use (not just passive, distracted browsing of the internet or social media, but active engagement in, and production of, original content), technical troubleshooting (including learning new software and managing archives of digital content), and real-world digital production skills (as all businesses are increasingly required to have an online presence, digital marketing content creation such as image editing and video production have become highly sought-after workplace skills). Not convinced? Just take a look at this charming and thought-provoking personal essay from educator Paul Barnwell in Louisville, Kentucky. After he initiated a digital storytelling project in his classroom, his students felt like “trailblazers” and gained the confidence to “become the authors of their own lives.” Mr. Barnwell rightly warns that “if we don't consider and carefully plan what skills students are learning and practicing by employing technology in the classroom, we're doing our students a disservice."

If you’re an educator at the elementary or secondary levels, and particularly specializing in art, language, literature, music, theatre, science and technology, history, or social studies, you can have a great impact on your students’ media education by helping them to create and modify images, plan and organize ideas through storyboards, write scripts, perform in front of cameras, design and produce web content, or report news stories.

Not sure where to start? Check out Hands On Media’s Professional Development workshops, or inquire about Custom Training sessions for educators in a particular area of specialization. Contact us at #514.659.3814 or info@handsonmediaeducation.com and we can help you understand and tailor your professional development goals to meet the current (and future!) needs of your students in a saturated and stimulating digital media landscape.

We wish all our educators, their students, and our community partners a happy and eventful summer break!

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