Two of my courses at Fresno State are media centered. One of my courses is a discussion/lecture course where I teach the history of various media milestones as well as discuss whatever new media technology is up and coming, and the second course is a media production course where we go over photography, audio, video, and web design. In both of these classes media literacy is a big part of the curriculum. In the New Media Technology course we go over the theories of media literacy, and in the Media Production course we focus primarily on how Media is created and the skills to persuade audiences. In order to improve media literacy there are a few actions I am planning on incorporating into my courses. In my Media Production course I would like to set more strict rules on my video project. By limiting the project with various requirements it creates a need for more research on my students part into the media industry.
As an example, a video project may state:
This assignment involves shooting video and audio of an event that visualizes a theme and editing a video montage that tells the story with video, natural sound and music.
- Length: 45 seconds to 90 seconds
- Minimum 15 different video shots (likely much more.)
- Edited to a music track so that the shots go with the music.
- Includes at least one natural sound element (Sound occurring when you are shooting.)
- Export as a YouTube HD file
- Music must be Royalty Free (Download and follow Attribution Requirements)
- Must be uploaded to your own YouTube channel.
- Video must have a clear beginning, middle, and end.
- Choose a theme before you start the project and visualize the theme with this video montage.
When students first see this assignment they think that 15 shots is too many, however if I require them to view commercials and track how many shots are in each commercial they will begin to understand that 15 shots is actually too few. By having my students choose and theme and visualize it throughout the video, it will also help them understand how media convey messages. I would also like to have them dissect the commercials and write down the message that each commercial is conveying.
Another project that I would like to implement would be a photography assignment in which students find and place these photos into 4 categories: Journalism, Fine Art, Commercial, Snapshot. After they categorize each of these I would also want them to dissect the story that each photo is telling.
The main learning objectives of these assignments:
- How well is the theme expressed? Is there a clear and engaging storyline? Does the beginning establish the setting, characters, subject and theme and engage the viewer? Does the body of the story provide details about the subject and keep the viewer's interest? Does the ending clearly resolve the story?
Impact and Creativity
- How well do the photos engage the viewer? Do the photos have emotional impact? Is the first image sufficiently interesting to make the viewer want to see more?
- Does the portrayal of the subject provide an unusual or unique insight into the theme?
- How effectively are compositional techniques (rule-of-thirds, simplicity, lines, framing) used to draw the eye into the image and focus attention?
- Is the lighting and exposure appropriate for the subject of each photo? How effectively are they used to enhance the impact of the photos?
- Have brightness, contrast, color balance and sharpness been controlled and adjusted to achieve the highest quality appearance of the photographs?
I believe that overall, these changes to my classes would increase the literacy of my students, teach them to explore the true meaning of media messages, and help them in creating meaningful media.