Channel 21st Century Classroom

7 10 2009

Was it only four short years ago that the world was introduced to what is now the most popular media viewing platform, YouTube?  Indeed, it is hard to imagine what life was like before all the emails being sent from friend to friend with the latest laugh reel on YouTube.  With an endless number af channels to choose from and a production staff from all corners of the world, YouTube is reshaping the media’s world in unimaginable ways.  MTV’s early days could easily be compared to YouTube’s own introduction to the media world.  Both have reshaped the media industry.  However, only YouTube is giving teachers a resource worth using in the classroom.

Teachers are now finding just the exact teachable short clip to full documentary to use with students.  In the past month I have shown numerous clips from YouTube channels.  My students are seeing short five minute clips to help effect the lesson or they are watching hour long pieces that would normally cost me countless dollars to purchase the films.  In the past I might have to search out for licensing rights and public relations folks to access major corporate films.  Now, I can access many Discovery Channel, National Geographic, or PBS series’ to bring in to the classroom.  Every subject across every lesson plan can be enhanced through a simple YouTube search.  Students are even finding ways to spread their message through YouTube.

As students learn to develope and play with new media they are excited to publish their own work.  YouTube is giving students public access channels which in the past might mean huge corporate funding or extensive grant writing.  Today, we can implement student news media networks for free and from any computer.  For my students, this means active engagement in their own learning.  Alternative media is allowing students to network within the school and even throughout the community.  With a small cheap video camera and simple editing tools, students are engaged in the uploading process of YouTube in addition to the countless pieces they watch.

Leadership students in my class are utilizing both YouTube and Facebook to spread the word about homecoming this year.  Here is the first YouTube my students deigned, constructed, and shared with the school and the community.  My role was simply a consultant and advisor.  The rest of the work is their own creation.


Converging Culutures; Are we there yet?

4 10 2009

Converging cultures… Is this a new age way of describing the Melting Pot mentality of American immigration?  Or is this some way of describing a news broadcast being built by a teenager on a camera phone and sharing it with the world through an online medium?  Or is this talking about a culture that is due to arise but isn’t quite here yet?  Or has it arrived?  Or is this something bigger?

The reality is that converging cultures are everywhere.  Converging cultures include an integrated view of all of the afore-mentioned questions.  And the reality is that most of us have no idea where this convergence may take us or what the rules for this may be but we are on our way.

Most of us are wrapped up n this convergence concurrently and possibly unconsciously.  If you have ever used YouTube to catch up on the latest water cooler discussion you are participating.  If you have a cd player, an iPod, or cable music programming, you are participating.  If you have ever sent a text message or photo message to a friend you are using convergence culture.  What convergence culture really means is that our idea of independent media realms today is a blend of past independent fields mixing together to create a new sense of reality.  No longer do we talk about information coming to us from the news, be it T.V., radio, or newspaper.  Now we talk about our news coming to us via podcasts, blogs, and the most popular T.V. channel, YouTube, which isn’t actually a channel at all or a T.V. device.  When our worlds collide and the boundaries lift…convergence culture is here.

Business’ have started to recognize this shift.  Look at the focus of movie producers to add bonus features to their dvd’s, their release of video games to take the story further than the on screen performance, and simply the cell phone as a music player, film, sound and recording device, in addition to accessing the internet, and text messaging.  If you are wondering how the former news industries are responding to this shift, take a look at the new New York Times.  In this The Atlantic monthly article, “End Times” we get a glimpse of the new reality that business’ marketers are facing.

Will the New York Times face a slow death like many of the nation’s other newspapers or will they emerge to re-define this convergence.  See what Marc Anderssen says about the print version of the times.

Possibly the most exciting aspect of this new approach to media, resides in the way we can now actively engage the media as producers of media.  Our home films are now the latest upload ready for the world to relive our family vacations with us.  We can even write our own material that will be read by millions.  It is this grassroots aspect of the new media convergence that is captivating more and more participants.  Just think about what MTV did to music in the 80’s and what YouTube is doing to T.V. today.

This response is in reference to:

Jenkins, Henry.  2006.  Convergence Culture.  New York.  New York University Press.

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