Social Media Resilience

It has been a whirlwind couple of months with bid writing and project work and I’m slowly getting back on top of it all, which means I can finally announce a new media literacy project – Social Media Resilience Toolkit or SMaRT-eu which seems particularly timely in this age of conflicting and confusing health advice, bad science, badly presented statistics and alternative truth.

The project is lead by our Portuguese colleagues at COFAC, part of Lusófona University, who are experts in their field. We worked with them previously on a participatory internet radio project RadioActive and also more recently in Media In Action and are excited to be working with them again.

SMaRT-eu will work with intergenerational groups to provide tools and training on topics such as how to read media – particularly social media, how to navigate with critical consciousness in the social media environment which is saturated with instantaneous information, as well as how to use digital media to engage communities for social good.

You can find out more from the project website http://smart-toolkit.eu

The 7Ws of Media and Information Literacy

The Media in Action project has published its resource bank of hand-picked, tried and tested tools, literature, how-to guides, articles, videos and inspiration. The resources are split into our 7Ws;

What – with resources on historical context, the definition and concepts of convergence literacies, pedagogy, and the era of prosumerism.

Why – on media citizenship, democracy, content curation, disinformation, misinformation and bias.

What For – On understanding, interpretation and evaluation of media messages alongside creating content and using it responsibly.

With What – Tools for creating content and telling stories in an educational setting.

Now What – Convergence literacy and storytelling theory, digitally supported strategies and digital identities.

Who – Teachers, Families, Government and NGOs

How – How to guides and tools for digital content creation and problem-solving.

If you have examples of activities, digital stories or resources you have used or created and are willing to share with the wider media literacy community, you are welcome to create an account on our MIA platform or send them to us directly in the comment box below.

Wales DigitalFest 2018

Cardiff may be a small city but it certainly knows how to put on a good show. The beautiful Wales Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay was jam-packed with exhibitors, speakers, workshops and discussions with attendees ranging from wannabe start-ups to big business moguls, politicians to street food vendors.

Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies featured highly on the agenda, which seems hugely different to DigitalFest 2017 where the only mention of blockchain I heard was by accident sitting at the back of a small presentation drinking my coffee. It was obvious from the discussions that most people have no idea what it is or how it works. Thankfully the consensus was that most people don’t need to, in the same way that most people don’t know how their mobile phone works, you can remain blissfully unaware whilst blockchain technology is working away in the background, quietly de-centralising your data storage.

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The most interesting and useful parts of conferences for me are always the interactive workshops and round-table discussions. I’m in good company because these sessions were well attended. Sadly the layout let us down and what was probably envisaged as an open space, open discussion, was more like, well, trying to hold a workshop in a busy corridor. Nevertheless I managed to take plenty away from it all; how social enterprises can harness digital for the greater good, lessons to be learned from digital innovations in rural Africa, Richard Theo’s tips on being an entrepreneur, and how we deal with some of the darker side of digital; fake news, propaganda, online gambling addiction, cyberbullying, data and privacy. All of which will be appearing in my resources for YETI and MIA in the very near future!

 

Educate to Create

This year, Bulgaria holds the presidency of the European Union, I was invited to Sofia to be a panel speaker at one of the associated conferences, Educate to Create.

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The conference was billed as “an opportunity to bring attention to the pressing need to raise digital skills and competence levels across Europe and to support young people in using technologies for creativity, knowledge construction and effective and efficient learning.”

There were panel discussions and plenary sessions on the maker movement, digital creativity, educator training, partnering with industry,  how to raise digital skills across the board, gender equality and inclusion.

IMG_1452.jpgMy panel addressed Digital Creativity and maker skills – the role of teacher education. In my introduction I presented the Media In Action project which aims to provide educator training and resources with a basis in journalistic techniques, story telling and digital content creation.

In summing up we were asked what European policy should focus on for the next five years in the field of supporting teachers and teacher training.

My answer;

“Being the media literacy representative here I should say media literacy is the number one priority. It is essential for a functioning democracy, we all need the to tools to access, critically evaluate, interact with and create digital media.

But teachers don’t need one more thing bolted on, one more thing to be responsible for.

We do need to embed digital, media, “convergence literacies” throughout the curriculum. We need to support educators with practical ideas and practical resources, useful stuff, things you can use with your class tomorrow morning. We need to support them with training. We need to support them by creating time and space for educators to learn and to be creative with what they learn.

Teachers are already creative but we drum it out of them with constant bureaucracy, assessments, inspections, hoops to jump through.

We need to trust our teachers and their abilities to do their jobs. We should be fostering a culture of trust in educators so that they have more confidence in themselves to go and be creative”

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It was an honour to share a stage with Deirdre Butler (DCU), Nina Lindstrom (Strawbees), Oliver Quinlan (RaspberryPi) and Jan de Craemer (Flemmish Ministry of Education and Training), who did an excellent job moderating us!

It all kicked off in the Principality

The Media in Action consortium met in Cardiff’s Principality Stadium at the end of January for our project kick off meeting. There was an air of excitement and a keenness to hit the ground running in this one year pilot project co-funded by DG Connect. Work has already started identifying existing good practices and competency frameworks key to making the project a success. We hope that our good vibes have a positive effect on the teams due to play in the Six Nations Rugby tournament over the coming weeks, although being a European project we couldn’t quite decide who to support when Wales isn’t playing!

Presenting Media in Action to the European Media Literacy Expert Group

On 14th December last year I woke up halfway up the tallest hotel room I’ve ever stayed in on a maisonette level double bed in Brussels. I got the highly efficient public transport to the edge of the city and found my way to the DG Connect building.  I gave a presentation, experienced my first heckler and then listened to some very interesting people talk about fake news, propaganda, unconscious bias, the power of photographs, how politicians use targeted ads on social media, and discussions around what can we do about improving media literacy.

Without media literacy we cannot have a functioning democracy.

It was both wonderful and exhausting and I learned a lot, about media literacy and about presenting.

Here is my presentation, with notes, about what Pontydysgu and the Media in Action consortium are planning to do for Media Literacy education this year.

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Rationale

Participation. Learning by doing.

In the process of creating media we can teach people how media works.

 

My 5 year old thinks that things must be true if they are on the tv or on a computer or her teacher told her. So we thought up something which couldn’t be real, like a group of people who worship a flying spaghetti monster, spaghetti growing on trees, park benches with knitted covers… We searched for it… Then we wrote a blog together, we made fake news. We talked about how we know if something is real or not.

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She trusts her teacher. This is someone who knows what is right and what is wrong. An educator is in a position not only to give one off lessons on literacy, comprehension, critical thinking… but also to embed good practice in their everyday work. Very small changes could make a big difference. Imagine if every time we talked about a story we also included a fact check, or asked how we know it’s true.

 

In Media in Action we want educators to be able to work with their school and community groups to use multi media (blogs, videos and podcasts) to tell their stories. Whilst creating, participants will gain an understanding of how media works, from the inside.

 

We are also well aware that educators face a lot of pressure, as such we would like to work with and alongside them to produce a needed, useful and meaningful resource rather than a bolt on ‘one more thing educators are responsible for’.

 

Target

6-18 Educators (youth and community group leaders, teachers, trainee teachers, teaching assistants, librarians and others)

 

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How are we going to do it?

Train educators in how to run a class/group media centre, the training will cover aspects of media literacy including news literacy, digital citizenship, freedom of the press along with content creation and storytelling.

 

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What we have already achieved

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You can join our network and request more information at this address http://mediainaction.eu/join-our-network/

 

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Who are we?

The Media in Action consortium is a group of professionals, academics, researchers, journalists and education specialists from across Europe.

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Media Literacy training and resources for educators.

Media in Action launches in January 2018.  Find out more on our shiny new website mediainaction.eu

In the meantime, you can join our network of associates by filling in the form below.

We are looking for people interested in teaching or learning about media literacy, media literacy experts, people who work in the media, schools, youth and community organisations, librarians, teachers and educators.

Media in Action

Exciting things are always happening at Pontydysgu but this one I’m particularly looking forward to. From January 2018 I will be working with, COFAC in Portugal, Cooperativa Nuova Dimensione in Italy, Grupo Comunicar Andalusia and KIC Malta on a Media Literacy for all pilot project funded by DG Connect

Media in Action is a project in educator training in media literacy and storytelling. 

The project aims to work directly with educators such as youth and community group leaders, teachers, trainee teachers, teaching assistants, librarians and others involved with education for children aged 6-18. We will work at two levels: the educators and through them targeting young people in their communities. 

We will provide training and support materials and workshops to enable educators to set up a media centre within their organisation aimed at increasing the critical thinking towards the media among citizens. Through this media centre we can create conditions for participants to better understand how media and news media work and also, through that, stimulating each group or class to be able to produce multi-media such as blogs, videos and podcasts in order to tell their stories. The centres will be linked by a media hub – one website where you can find and interact with content from groups all over Europe. Everything the participants learn along the way in terms of skills in journalism, media literacy, critical thinking, presentation, understanding texts, technical and digital skills will be recognised by awarding open badges. The materials will be differentiated to help remove some of the barriers to participation typically encountered. By utilising a range of multimedia tools we aim to make it easier for everyone involved to access the project.

We intend to work with 70 educators across Europe directly through workshops and focussed teaching and learning events. Each of these educators will be in regular contact with many young people in their institutions but we estimate that another 560  participants will be impacted as a result of those educators.

The resulting open access resources and the online course will be freely and publicly available. We hope to attract more educators to our online community of practice via these resources and for every educator we recruit we expect another 8 young people to be impacted.

 

Expected results include:

The Media in Action Hub, a one-stop shop with access to;

A course for educators in Media Literacy and Storytelling;

Teaching and learning materials;

A repository of lesson plans and resources;

An online community;

A showcase of stories from end users.

 

Media literacy is an essential skill for any generation to master. Becoming media literate means young people build communication skills, and also become equipped with the tools to interpret, to understand, to critically question and to interact with media. The ability to create your own media is empowering and outlets such as a blog or a podcast give a platform for young people to tell their personal story so as to build a place in culture and society. In this particular aspect, we intend to take advantage of digital storytelling inspired in journalistic techniques, as educational tools.

The project embraces a holistic methodology building products from the ground up, reflecting learning in a flexible curriculum rather than outlining a rigid learning path from the outset, recognising the learning which occurs rather than prescribing what can be learned. Providing a platform from which unheard stories can be told and supporting and facilitating the process.  

There are many project outcomes which are useful tools and resources for educators but the most important outcome will be the positive effects that the project has on the young people who participate. Not only will they gain a wide range of skills but they will benefit from the social and individual growth derived from engaging with fulfilling storytelling.

We are keen to work with others so if you have ideas or resources or would just like to stay in touch please contact me @angelarees or leave a comment.