Monday, January 1, 2018

Digital Media Literacy with KQED Teach

Bill Ferriter 

I am sure that many of you are familiar with the image above. While I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment, the National Association of Media Literacy Education tells us:
“The purpose of media literacy education is to help individuals of all ages develop the habits of inquiry and skills of expression that they need to be critical thinkers, effective communicators and active citizens in today’s world.”

So, while the learning outcome should not be "create a Prezi" or "produce a video", we do need to provide students with the skills of expression to be effective communicators.

Now I'm sure that we've all been privy to things like

  • presentations with too much text, or unreadable fonts
  • student videos that, while cute, are unintelligible
  • Edmodo or Google classroom posts that should have been edited
  • student-created cartoons, infographics and Google Draw productions that are nothing more than a disorganized copy/paste
I illustrate these to make the point that we do need to help students develop better media literacy skills. We live in a world where most classrooms have access to 1:1 devices (especially if we count student-owned devices). Many of us have dabbled with creating educational products for our students and/or have asked our students to do the same, but how many of us have taken the time to hone those skills before teaching them to the students? I know that I was one of the ones that expected my students to "produce a 5-minute video to explain ____", without ever having gone through the process myself!

That is why I was so glad when last spring I was introduced to KQED Teach. In Randall Depew's words:
"KQED Teach, our new online learning platform, will support educators’ growing media literacy needs by helping them develop the media skills necessary to bring media production to their learning environments."
The beauty of KQED Teach is two-fold. First, it is completely free. Not only are the courses free, all the tools they suggest within each course are also free. Second, the courses are self-paced and short enough to be easily completed in an afternoon or two. As teachers, we are budget and time poor. KQED Teach understands that and responded in kind. 

Let me tell you a little bit about the courses I have taken, and what I've been able to do and teach because of it.

Media Foundations: Allowed me to explore the impact digital media could have in my teaching. Because of this course, I became a more critical consumer of information and started paying attention to bias and copyright. The skills I learned were easily transformed into a lesson titled  "Should I CITE-IT?", which I posted and have available on the KQED Teach platform.

Taking Charge of Social Media: This course opened up my eyes to the world of social media, especially Twitter, as a PD tool, allowing me to add a myriad of innovative educators to PLN, which in turn made me grow so much more than any "traditional" PD.

Designing Presentations: This course should be required by anyone that has ever thought about creating any kind of presentation. We all know about essay-like presentations, but have you ever thought about how fonts, images, and colors interact to tell a story during your presentation? After this course, you will be ready to go well beyond the template that you've seen or used 1000 times to create much more impactful and memorable presentations using any platform. 

Interactive Timelines: At first, this course looks a little scary, especially if you are unfamiliar with Google Sheets. However, following their advice, I was able to create the interactive timeline of my scope and sequence that you see below. How cool is that!

I have not taught the lesson I posted at the end of the course "Technology Timeline", but it is there for anyone that wants it, and can be easily modified to suit other purposes.

Making Interactive Maps: Much like the interactive timelines, I did not know I needed to know this until I created my first map. The course not only gives you the step by step instructions and ideas on how to integrate their use in anyone's practice but also includes how to take these maps further using the layers and data tables that I did not know existed within Google Maps. Because of this course, I was able to have my 5th graders create maps like the one you see below, in response to the lesson I posted within KQED Teach - The Journey of Stuff.


Making Infographics: My favorite course so far. This course taught me some design basics that are transferable to many other platforms, creating websites for example. But that was not all, it also helped me hone my skills as a creator of digital content, allowing me to take it to the next level in things like the blog post about student-designed board games, and the image I created for the Stop the Fake News Cycle lesson I shared in response to the KQED Teach course on Finding and Evaluating Information:



Communicating with Photography and Video Storytelling Essentials both highlight the power of your smartphone camera. Beyond the composition of your subjects to issues regarding lighting, sound, and editing (including how to conduct interviews), these two offer very specific fixes and ideas that can help you learn and then teach the basics to your students. I invite you to look at the lessons I posted for these two, which include student examples -Source to Mouth documentary and Layered Selfies.

These are only a few of the courses that KQED Teach has to offer, and they are consistently adding new courses. I encourage you to sign up and start learning today.