Do a personal 24- to 48-hour news audit in which you record all the news you get now, where it comes from, and how well it meets your needs and interests.
This short course reminded me of the power of experiential, inquiry-based learning. As I am redesigning a media literacy course for teacher candidates, I am thinking that one of these types of brief activities each week could be incredibly useful, so I will return to them again in the future.
As a writer — both in the sense that I am a blogger and the author of texts for teachers — I am well aware of the fact that writing is never really “done,” it is just “due.” I am thankful that I have the opportunity to keep writing, keep sharing, keep updating. It is as important now as it has ever been.
When my colleague and co-author, Kristen Turner, and I were putting the finishing touches on our book, Argument in the Real World, last summer, we knew that the world would be experiencing digital arguments in many ways across the closing months of the US 2016 election cycle. However, we had no idea that “fake news” or “alternative facts” would become part of the Orwellian discourse. Over the past few months, the incredible team at Heinemann has been sharing a number of posts and videos related to the book:
Finally, here is a video in which I demonstrate how students can remix existing news content to analyze the implicit arguments presented in the news.
As teachers continue to work with their students to overcome the many challenges we continue to face with media literacy, we will continue to update the book’s wiki page and share more ideas. My hope is that this collection of resources is a good place to begin those difficult lessons and conversations.
During our workgroup meeting this morning, Maria Ranieri has asked us to engage in an analysis of our own social profile(s), and to reflect on our decision to engage in social scholarship.
For me, the choice to engage in social media began over a decade ago, while still in graduate school at MSU. The first entry for my blog was in 2006, at the NWP-sponsored Tech Matters advanced institute, and my first tweet was in May 2007 (also at an NWP-related event). In a sense, the growth of social scholarship in the past decade has mirrored my own journey. I’ve always lived in the world that leaned toward open-access, collaboration, and public engagement, and I have grown my network exponentially over my past 10 years at CMU.
Today, it was interesting for me to “Google” myself. I actually started with DuckDuckGo in order to get a (relatively) objective look at what “Troy Hicks” yields. Here is what I found, with my annotations. Interestingly enough, I am not in the “top 10” of Facebook profiles for “Troy Hicks,” and I actually think that is a good thing. I did click on the LinkedIn search, too, and I showed up second, FWIW.
Then, I did hop over to Google. Here is what the automated complete function showed with just “troy hicks” and the with a “troy hicks d” (because I wanted to see what would happen with digital writing).
Interestingly, the “brookings sd” is for a man, Troy Doyle Hicks, 52, of Brookings, SD, who died last November. As soon as the “d” was added after my name, however, it is interesting to see that the connections to “digital writing” as well as my books showed up. Not sure that I need to buy another domain name right now, but that was an option, too.
She concluded by having us ask one another about affordances and opportunities as well as constraints and challenges. There were many, many points made, but I will focus on one: my profile on Rate My Professor. I haven’t been on the site in years (I had only seen the 2008 post) and was interested to read the 2015 post about my ENG 514 class. I can reflect more on my experience of teaching that class, how I established timelines/provided feedback, and what I have changed since, but that is for another post.
The other point I want to make now was captured best by Jillian Belanger in a tweet:
Onward! Looking forward to my next steps as a social scholar.
This past week, I was able to cap off a summer whirlwind of PD at CMU’s Biological Station, facilitating what we are calling our first Beaver Island Institute. The six-day event brought together middle school science and ELA teachers for an opportunity to engage in scientific inquiry, explore argument writing in science, and understand aspects of disciplinary literacy. I was fortunate enough to work with two other facilitators, one graduate student, and 16 teachers as they began to develop units of study that connect the Next Generation Science Standards, the Common Core Literacy Standards, and the ISTE Technology Standards. Our main focus was on thinking about how students can pose questions, gather data, analyze that data and refine it into useful evidence, and then make scientific arguments.
Among the many great opportunities that happened, we explored three technologies to support digital writing: infographics (using Piktochart), graphic designs (using Canva), and something new (for me), a tool called StoryMap JS (not to be confused with Story Maps or MapStory, though those both look interesting, too) as a tool for creating presentations that blend map coordinates, images, videos, and text into a coherent “story map” that, indeed, has the map at the center of the story. StoryMapJS is open source, and many news organizations have used it to tell visual stories.
As you will see in the sample Story Map that I created below, the cover/title slide is a map that contains all the subsequent points on the map. If you made a story map that was as small as one block in a town, it would zoom in that close; similarly, you could have multiple points represented all over the world with a much wider map in the opening.
The additional slides in the presentation included a space for entering an additional location, uploading (or linking to) an image, and also entering some text. In this space, students could write just about anything — a narrative that moves characters from one location to the next, a poem that describes the location, an informational piece that describes the cultural or scientific value of a particular location, or even evidence for a longer argument (as we discussed this week). The story map, then, can be shared and embedded.
One additional tool that we used to help identify and, quite literally, pinpoint locations was GaiaGPS. Using their map tool, you can search for points of interest, zoom in and out to find other locations, and even drop pins to get exact GPS locations. I also learned from one of the participants that you can take GPS coordinates out of a Google Map, as seen in the close up of the URL bar below.
One idea that I was imagining was that students could, while out taking pictures and videos of a space, be sure to record their location with GPS coordinates (or enable location services in the mobile app) and then have those exact spots. They could create walking tours of their communities, of natural areas, of historical sites, or — as one participant shared with me this week — they could capitalize on the Pokemon Go craze and make a series of geocaches for others to discover… or historical markers tagged with a QR code or Aurasma augmented reality.
This entire week has been valuable for me in many ways, especially as I was invited to think about connections between science and literacy. My hope is that the teachers who were involved in the institute will carry many new ideas back to their classroom this fall and, in turn, engage their own students in scientific inquiry and building arguments with evidence, evidence that they themselves have collected and analyzed.
StoryMap JS, with the opportunities it affords, could be one innovative platform for students to then share their work. Here is just a brief sample of one story map that I created as a model for the teachers.
Recently, a friend of Kristen’s on Facebook posted a GIF that showed the evolution of a desk. In 1980 the desk was covered with items: books, newspapers, magazines; a fax, phone, stapler and tape dispenser; a rolodex, clock, globe, calendar, and bulletin board; and a computer and phone. One by one the items on the desk evolved – and disappeared, becoming an app on the computer – as a scrolling mast of years advanced. By current day, only a computer full of apps and a Smartphone remained on the desk.
The GIF represents the possibilities of a digital world. We can, if we choose to do so, conduct our professional and personal lives entirely on, with, and through devices, and a recent Pew study suggests that more and more teenagers and adults are making the choice to go digital. What does this transformation mean?
As teachers of reading and writing, we recognize that our own desks – and those of our students – are markedly different than they were even just a decade ago. We accept that, as the National Writing Project asserts, “digital is,” and we wonder how we can help adolescents to become critical readers in a world where they encounter short-, mid-, and long-form texts through their devices on a daily – and even hourly – basis.
For us, reading is not an isolating activity. Digital tools allow individual readers to connect to a network of readers; texts of all kinds can be shared quickly and widely. Digital tools also allow readers to share their reading experiences – before, during, and after – with others. In a digital world, reading is visibly social.
This model suggests that readers encounter texts in a variety of ways. They may receive them from others, somewhat passively, or they may actively seek out new reading material by surfing without much intention, stumbling through sites with some intention, or searching with focused intention.
How do we help students develop their comprehension skills as they encounter and engage with Kindles and Nooks, RSS feeds and Twitter, hypertext fiction and digital textbooks? How do we help them to read critically in a world where information flows constantly? And perhaps most importantly, how do we help them to leverage the possibilities within a network of readers?
As we consider these questions, we look forward to the #engchat session on October 5, where we will discuss what it means to be Connected Readers.
Here are some notes from the first keynote was from Wibke Weber, in her talk about “Fusing words and images — new forms of public storytelling.”
In recent years, the rise of multimedia creates a complex milieu of words and images; they must be seen as equal partners in meaning making
In the past few years, these have found a home in “data journalism” — a hybrid form using images, words, and numbers to create a new cohesive form
For a long time, images were viewed as the “little sister” of language and the fact that images could represent ideas was largely ignored
However, we know that visuals have more than an illustrative function — they can help narrate and make arguments
The semiotic system of language appears in the form of headlines, articles, captions, but numbers and maps show visual orientation and analysis
With the continuing forms of data visualizations, there are many new ways to represent ideas
The strength of data visualizations is that they provide evidence; they explain something visible that is difficult to understand in text alone (if designed well)
On the other hand, visual evidence can appear misleading and can look “objective,” but this is illusive. Even though they are based on numbers and texts, they are always the artifacts of an artist and/or design team. They are open to critique of color, font, shape, and more.
This means that we need to look at the data source, how it was collected, how it was visualized, and more. Words tell, but pictures show. So the main function of data visualization is to show, to tell a story.
How do images tell stories?
A data visualization must have a beginning, middle, and end
Famous graphic from Charles Joseph Minard that depicts the devastating losses in Napoleon’s army on their march to Moscow
The use of the comic medium to cover events, even in journalism, is at an all time high. For instance, they are being used in the Guardian and NYTimes.
Comic journalism is not about funny pictures, it means that you are pulling on the news and using journalistic techniques and ethics
Like narrative journalism, comic journalism covers the public story behind the private one
The challenge for comic journalism is that, because comics are generally seen as fiction, people may struggle to see comic journalism as “true” and authentic
Journalists must use verbal and visual clues to share the fact that they are a part of the work (e.g., having a picture of the journalist in the comic, or by having a historical photograph of a person with their comic representation)
Colors, tone, light, shape, handwriting or print — all of these devices are ways that comics can be read for authenticity. Speech bubbles versus text boxes, too. The stylistic elements corroborate the authenticity of the comic.
It must be clear that the journalists are telling the truth, not a fictional story. This becomes even more important when illustrating breaking news and when using virtual reality.
What are the authentication strategies that we can use?
We are often unable to see past the boundaries of our current frame of mind — we need to bring the visual into academic discourse. It allows us to step outside of our own system and to see work in relation.
She has shared a great list of resources for infographics, and I thank her for allowing me to post them here:
How do we begin to investigate solutions in this field
Combining many frameworks
Ethnography, grounded theory, Realist-social theory, Transdiciplinary action research, Dynamic systems theory
Connecting to real life problems
Change and stability
Agency and structure
Practitioners and researchers bring in their knowledge as experts
Collaborate and learn from one another
Learn and adjust goals, methods, and findings
To produce new, emergent, situated knowledge
Focusing on what works, for whom, under which circumstances
Not about the grand theory, but what works in certain contexts
The Idee Suisse Research Project
Focusing on SRG public broadcasting which is caught between a public mandate and private forces while being asked to stimulate public discourse
Macro level findings
In the program mandate, SRG is supposed to promote understanding, cohesion, and exchange across the various publics
Intercultural communication is a part of the media company’s mandate, but they don’t have the right tools and knowledge to bring together contradictory expectations of public discourse and compete against private, entertainment programs
Managers talk the talk, but do not walk the walk in propositional reconstruction — “public service media are not the institutions to solve social problems.”
Knowledge transformation from the ground floor — it doesn’t come from management, it comes from those who are doing the work
Understand the macro results
Take a closer look at experienced practice
Discover emergent practices and “third ways” out of critical situations
Deriving and telling the good practice story
Formulating guidelines for knowledge transformation measures
Data collection and analysis
What are the distinctions between what happens in the newsroom, in the conferences, and what appears on screen — recording the data during the course of a year
This is the “mother of spyware” that we installed — so we had to plan for ethical and practical aspects, also just having people know what we were doing and why
How do we do all of this in a theoretically and methodologically sound manner?
Conclusion: from tacit to explicit
We had to look at the hypocrisy framework — the organization is exposed to contradictory expectations. They must response to the conflicts in order to survive.
We also looked at the tacit knowledge frame — looking at how individual, experienced journalists filled in the slots left open by management. They develop strategies to meet organizational and public needs.
Looking at a specific case
Thinking about the writing situation, activity, and the strategies/practices
A particular journalist was highly experienced and was allowed to do “forbidden things” such as closing a story with a quote. He was a counter-conventional person and had the skills to be able to pull this off.
He would write the text after composing the video with the editor.
He would also write the introduction for the anchor woman himself; this is uncommon, because the journalist normally writes the story and the anchor writes her own introduction
Normally, the anchor’s introduction is about selling the news piece. But, for this journalist, it is really important that the anchor provides context for the piece. He knows how to tell about complex things in a simple manner.
The journalist goes through a very linear writing process for the anchor’s part of the story. His own writing process is a bit more recursive, but he is able to get the info for the anchor created in a very linear manner.
In a more abstract format… writing strategies in a propositional format
To distinguish between the two stories (background and current)
To tell the recent story in the news text because it fits the recent pictures
To tell the background story because not all the audience is up-to-date
To tell the background story in the anchor text because there are no pictures
In short, there was a high degree of intercultural communication between the journalist and the anchor (different professional cultures within the organizations)
What are the strategies that the journalist uses across the writing process?
Defining the task
Implementing the product
Reading the text so-far
Handling writing tools
Handling task environment
Handling social environment
Establishing relevance for the audience
Finding the sources
Holding space and time restrictions
Limiting the topic
Staging the story
Taking own position
This differs from the traditional Flower and Hayes model, where a student is given a task that they are supposed to do for school
But, in real life, writing requires goal setting well before planning
The “good practice” story
Whereas critical situations denote exemplary constellations of circumstances which could lead to failure, good practice stands for potential success for everyone involved in creating the story.
Production conflicts force an emerging solution
Orientation to uptake to complicating action to resolution to coda