Media Literacy Online Project - Serving Educators Around The World
Media Literacy Review
Center for Advanced Technology in Education - College of Education - University of Oregon - Eugene

Media Literacy In Massachusettes

Author: Dr. Renee Hobbs
Associate Professor of Communication
Babson College, Wellesley, MA

Published as "Media Literacy in Massachusettts," in Andrew Hart (Ed.) Teaching the Media Worldwide. Mahwah, N.J: Erlbaum Associates, 1998.


In the United States, media literacy initiatives have often been based on the efforts of a single teacher in a school or district, working alone. Teachers in the subject areas of language arts, video production or social studies-- most usually at the middle-school level and above-- frequently become attracted to issues relevant to media literacy, for one or more of a wide spectrum of reasons ranging from the desire to protect children from media manipulation to an interest in promoting social change (Hobbs, 1995). Teachers who begin to experiment with media literacy in the K - 12 classroom are often unaware that there exists a network of educational resources and educators who share their interests, or a theoretical literature which examines the pedagogy of media studies. Frequently, these individuals will have devoted significant self-study to the issue and developed their own approaches to teaching media literacy before they ever become aware of others engaged in similar work. 1

Occasionally, their backgrounds in media studies and media pedagogy come from reading TV criticism and reports on the media business in the pages of the local newspaper, reporting on Hollywood and the media business as part of entertainment TV, and critics, scholars and popular writers including Marie Winn, Neil Postman, Jerry Mander, David Bianculli and Ken Aulettta. Also, teachers with interests in media literacy come with a range of different types of academic training, from degree programs in education, the arts, literature, history and politics, and journalism and communication. 2

Because of the tendency for media educators to be self taught, media literacy educators are iconoclastic, with a wide and idiosyncratic array of critical perspectives on media, youth and culture. This wide diversity of approaches used by teachers of media literacy in the United States has led to a number of schisms among media educators-- most notably between those who view media literacy as a form of protection for children to help them resist the lures of commercial culture, and those who view media literacy as a skill in its own right, often on the grounds that media literacy empowers young people to make their own interpretations and strengthen their communication skills (Fehlman, 1995).

As Brown (1991) has noted, various programs and materials designed to develop media literacy skills have been created since the early 1970s. However, these programs largely consisted of the development of print and video resource materials, with little formal training programs available to educators, particularly in the United States. In 1993, the Harvard Institute on Media Education was initiated at Harvard Graduate School of Education. It was the first of a number of staff development programs that began to emerge in the United States in the 1990s. 3 In 1993 and 1994, the Harvard experience provided an opportunity for nearly 200 teachers and academics to "discover" each other, to identify the motives and priorities each one brought to the enterprise of involving students in media analysis and production. At the same time, as education reform efforts at the state level encouraged the development of new standards, curriculum frameworks and innovative assessment models, a number of states explicitly called for the inclusion of skills of media analysis and production. The State of New Mexico, for example, mandated a course in communication for all high school students (McCannon, 1995); the State of Masschusetts included media analysis and communication skills not as a separate subject, but within language arts, social studies, health, science and the arts. 4

By and large, media literacy educational programs were often aimed at teachers within a metropolitan region or school district, initiated by a faculty member at a nearby university, using methods composed of lectures, discussions, viewing activities, production activities and time and resources for strategic planning to help teachers develop new ideas to implement in the classroom. A survey of teachers who completed the Harvard Institute on Media Education shows that the majority of teachers who participated in the program continue to work on an individual level within their own classrooms, with a large number of them serving as catalysts for action within their school by assisting their colleagues and sharing ideas. Only a handful of educators have developed models which promote the learning of media analysis and production skills widely by many teachers across multiple grades and subject areas (Hobbs, 1996).

This chapter describes one example of a district-wide model for helping teachers develop expertise in media literacy, a model which invites a cohort of educators from a single district to participate in a coordinated, long-term plan of study, research, design and and implementation of media literacy curriculum in grades K -12.

The Billerica Initiative is an on-going effort by the Billerica, Massachusetts Public Schools to develop media education training in a comprehensive program aimed to integrate media literacy concepts into grades K - 12 in a working class community northwest of Boston. Through staff development, community outreach, curriculum development and performance assessment, the Billerica Initiative attempted to introduce the skills of media literacy to 340 teachers and 7,000 students. The most important component of the initiative was a long-term staff development program consisting of a graduate-level program of courses which led to a Master's Degree in Media Literacy, sponsored by Fitchburg State College and the Merrimack Education Center, a co-operative staff development program which serves 22 school districts in the communities northwest of Boston, Massachusetts. The program resulted in the creation of a cadre of media literacy experts within the school district, a number of on-going cross-curricular programs, and a substantial amount of media analysis and production activities which are integrated within the day-to-day lives of students and teachers.

The purpose of this chapter is to profile a sample of the 26 teachers who participated in the Master's Degree program within the Billerica Initiatve. By examining the process by which teachers create their own approaches to curriculum in media literacy, we aim to identify how teachers' attitudes towards education, youth, culture and media shape their curriculum choices and interpersonal behavior in the classroom. By examining the ways they see themselves in relationship to their students and their peers, this chapter will seek to identify those factors which predict a teacher's willingness to take on the task of becoming knowledgeable about media and skilled in using media literacy pedagogy in the classroom.

This chapter focuses on the time period between January 1993 and May 1995 when the Master's Degree program teacher-training was implemented in Billerica. In addition, we describe the classroom practices of five teachers, making use of evidence collected from teachers' weekly journals, their lesson plans and other coursework, observations of classroom practice, and interviews with teachers, school administrators and community members who participated in the program. Using profiles of teachers working with students aged 12 to 17, we explore the range of teacher attitudes, behaviors and philosophies to order to better understand the characteristics of media literacy as it is practiced in U.S. public schools today. The chapter concludes with some observations, hypotheses and critical questions about the application of the district-based model of media literacy education which was employed in Billerica.

Billerica, Massachusetts was one of the first sites in the United States to receive 'Channel One,' a commercially supported current events television program for teenagers, now in place in more than 12,000 schools, with a reach of more than 7 million students each day. Schools receive television equipment for use in classrooms in exchange for broadcasting the program, which contains ten minutes of teen-oriented news programming and two minutes of advertising each day. 5 At the introduction of 'Channel One' educators in Billerica were deluged with public criticism from academics and educational leaders, including the National Education Association, who charged them with selling their students to advertisers and wasting valuable minutes of the school day. Nevertheless, school officials in Billerica believed that the program offered them the opportunity to improve their students' understanding of current events, enhance the use of media technology in the schools, and promote a sense of community through the broadcast of student-produced news and information programming.

Since l989, when 'Channel One' was first introduced in Billerica, educators within the district have become increasingly sensitive to the need to help strengthen students' ability to analyze and evaluate media messages. In addition, increased availability of hardware in the classrooms has made it easier for some teachers to increase their use of video materials as resources for teaching and created a climate of interest among teachers about strategies for using video production activities for educational purposes.

When middle school teachers voted unanimously to receive 'Channel One' in l992, they did so primarily because they wanted the opportunity to have a television monitor in every classroom. But some teachers and parents were also strongly concerned about the perceived vulnerability of middle school students to advertising and news content, with a number of teachers noting that younger students often lack the reasoning and critical thinking skills to analyze sophisticated, slickly produced ads and lack the world knowledge to appreciate the current events information provided on 'Channel One', which is largely aimed at high school students.

In Billerica, media literacy was initially understood by school officials to serve as a form of 'protection' for students who were about to be exposed to 'Channel One ' each day. Only gradually did educators and leaders in the school administration recognize the possibility that media literacy could enrich the curriculum in grades K - 12 across a range of subject areas.

Before 'Channel One' was turned on in the district's two middle schools, all teachers attended a two-hour presentation introducing them to the concept of media literacy, where teachers practiced analyzing news and advertising and learned of some simple activities and discussions to engage students' critical viewing skills. A representative sample of middle-school teachers also attended a one-day seminar on media literacy, which was designed to introduce teachers to media analysis skills and to discuss connections between media literacy and specific middle-school curriculum. The program was enthusiastically received. Teachers noted that the high level of engagement and enthusiasm among colleagues was in startling contrast to the usual ambivalence, skepticism and mild hostility which was often a part of staff development efforts.

As a result of the success of this program, in the Spring of l993, thirty teachers (representing each of the faculty teaching teams in the middle schools) enrolled in a 30-hour in-service course, Introduction to Media Literacy, with some teachers enrolling through Fitchburg State College to receive graduate credit. This course provided a broad overview of the issues involved in the analysis of print, imagery and electronic media. Teachers regularly engaged in analysis of a variety of different media, including newspapers, magazines, TV entertainment and news programming, and episodes of 'Channel One'. In addition, they wrote critical reviews of existing resource materials and curricula for media literacy and designed their own lesson plans for integrating media literacy concepts in their classrooms.

Dr. John Katsoulis, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction for the Billerica Public Schools, believed that it would be important to develop a graduate program in order to attract teachers to develop a long-term commitment to professional development. Planning for such a program was initiated by Dr. Katsoulis and the author with the support of the Merrmack Education Center.

With the support of members of the local access television center, a group of highly motivated teachers from the middle school created and participated in a media literacy assembly program which was designed to de-mystify the technology of television for students. The program was a multimedia performance which included an original script and score, various pre-produced video segments, live stage performances and participation from the student audience. The program assembly made use of a working, mobile TV studio on the stage of the middle school auditorium, with teachers and community volunteers staffing all the equipment. The program showed how media messages are constructed, introduced concepts including target audience; framing, composition and editing techniques, including special effects; differences and similarities between commercial, public and local access television; and the diverse array of production roles in the creation of video. The event required substantial cooperation among teachers and members of the local access community and represented an exciting, high-visibility launch of the media literacy effort for both students and teachers. It was clear that a production experience served to inspire creative, collaborative energy on the part of teachers, community leaders and students.

During the Summer of 1994, the Dr. Katsoulis approached the Merrimack Education Center in Chelmsford, a consortium of 22 school districts which provides staff development for the region's public schools. In coordination with Fitchburg State College's Department of Continuing Education, the Master in Education Program in Media Literacy was launched in the Fall 1993. This program was a field-based Master's Program open to Billerica faculty, consisting of 12 graduate level courses to be taken over a period of two and a half years. All 400 plus teachers were introduced to the role of media literacy in the curriculum and informed about the staff development program through a one-hour workshop presented by the author and the Assistant Superintendent, Dr. John Katsoulis. As a result of this effort, thirty teachers enrolled in the program. Appendix A provides an outline of the Billerica Initiative, including the schedule of courses taken by Billerica teachers.

The curriculum for the Masters' Degree program combined traditional graduate level courses in media studies, media education and pedagogy with practical staff development to help teachers increase their competence in applying media literacy in the classroom. Using the recommendations provided by teacher education in media literacy conducted in Clwyd, Wales, as a component of the Centre for Educational Technology, the Masters' Degree program in Billerica was modeled on the strategies recommended by evaluators in Wales (reported in Brown, 1991, p. 233):

  • provide teachers with sample exercises and materials apt for immediate classroom use and for sharing with colleagues;
  • hold sessions with teachers of both primary and secondary levels, to share experiences and to demonstrate the need for progressive levels of media education;
  • use local audio-visual resources to supplement school resources;
  • mount small-scale classroom research projects so that students can learn by doing and by discovery rather than learn by lecture;
  • develop curriculum outlines attuned to local needs and structures, to interest supervisors in expanding media education.

In Billerica, teachers had the opportunity to engage in practical, collaborative, district-wide program development. One of the most stimulating components of the program was the participation of equal number of elementary, middle school and high school teachers. Although teachers entered with a range of preconceived attitudes about each other, within a month, there was an on-going theme in the discussion concerning how much secondary teachers were learning from the wisdom in evidence from faculty in the lower grades.

Many activities capitalized on the opportunity to bring teachers from different grade levels and schools together. The most notable of these activities was the Billerica Ad Lab, which is a functioning advertising agency staffed by teachers and high school students, who received independent study credit for their participation. In the 1993-94 school year, participants took on the topic of anti-smoking as part of the Massachusetts State Department of Public Health's education effort. The team of high school students and teachers designed an series of activities for all teachers and students in the district, including a descriptive list of curriculum resources to engage students of all ages in critical analysis of tobacco advertising, plus a series of contests to create a slogan, radio and video public service announcements, newspaper and magazine ads, posters, T-shirts and a billboard. The Ad Lab is an excellent example of an authentic learning experience, using the combined resources of students and teachers, in a meaningful community-based activity which develops a wide range of communication, creative, teamwork and problem-solving skills.

Throughout 1994 and 1995, the Education Department of State of Massachusetts was in the process of developing new curriculum frameworks fo public education. Dr. Damian Curtiss, Director of the Billerica's Language Arts Program, served as a member of the committee which developed the Language Arts frameworks. His leadership on this committee was instrumental in helping colleagues from across the state appreciate that media messages are also "texts," and that to be literate in an information age, students need to have the skills to access, analyze, evaluate and communicate flexibly with awide variety of different forms, including messages which students receive from television, film, newspapers, magazines and radio. As a result of more than three years of effort, the State of Massachusetts has created new curriculum frameworks where media literacy skills are included-- not as a separate domain-- but as an integral part of language arts, social studies, health education, the arts and science.

In May of 1995, 26 Billerica teachers graduated from the Master's Degree Program in Media Literacy. In the next phase of the program, begun in January 1996, teachers have developed their own courses to teach media literacy skills to their colleagues in the district and in the surrounding communities.

Profile of Five Teachers: Research Methodology

The data reported below were collected as part of the teachers' coursework, required for completion of the Master's Degree in Media Literacy. Teachers had the option of interviewing and observing a colleague as one of two possible course assignments. In one course, teachers studied the profiles and classroom descriptions developed in the original UK Models of Media Education Project (Hart and Benson, 1993). To participate in this project, teachers had to volunteer to be observed and find a partner who could schedule time to watch one or two classroom lessons and conduct a detailed interview. A total of 12 teachers chose to engage in this project, and in this paper we report only the profiles of those who work with students age 11 to 16, excluding from the sample those teachers working at other grade levels, or those whose work is in subject areas other than language arts or social studies. These profiles make it possible for the reader to gain a specific set of mental pictures about the practice of media literacy education at a specific moment in time. Teachers' articulation of their rationale are distilled from a 40-minute interview based on the original UK Models of Media Education Project (Hart and Benson, 1993). The accounts of practice were written as descriptive observations of one or two classroom periods by those whose primary responsibilities are for students both in the middle-school grades (ages 11- 14) and the first two years of high school (ages 14 - 16).

Teachers candidly discussed with the author the experience of having a colleague make an observation, since in Billerica, classroom observations are exclusively reserved for purposes of evaluation and educators in Billerica had relatively little exposure to educational research on site. Teachers noted that this tradition created an expectancy that caused some tension on both the part of the observer and the part of the teacher being observed. While teachers agreed about the importance of capturing authentic classroom experience, the novelty of the experience created at least two distinct methodological effects which could be labeled the "safe" lesson and the "teacher focus."

First, teachers being observed chose to engage in practices they considered "safe," activities they had successfully implemented previously, even though much of the on-going dialogue with teachers in the Master's Degree program proved that teachers were increasingly more comfortable developing more spontaneous approaches to media study based on the "teachable moment." 6 This led to the result of the classroom observations being a more comfortable experience for the teachers who were observed, but in some instances, also created a more artificial learning experience for students, who in a few cases had been exposed to the same lesson earlier in the school year.

The second methodological effect which is evident from reviewing the teachers' classroom observations is a distinct focus on the teacher's behavior, with only a small minority of the reports going into any significant details about student behavior. Teachers had studied the reports of practice from the UK Models project, where close observation of student behavior is emphasized, but still wrote observations that focused on teacher behavior. One reason why this occurred is a direct result of the staff development experience. Twenty six teachers in the Billerica school system spent six hours a week after school in a graduate school learning experience, for the better part of three years, including summers. Participants knew each other well as time passed, gained a lot of appreciation for the personalities, passions, and characteristic modes of inquiry of each individual in the group. Becuase of scheduling practices, only on rare occasions did teachers get to observe each other in the day-to-day practice of teaching. This led to a fair amount of curiosity all around, and as can be expected, when it was time to make a formal written observation of classroom practice, the natural tendency of many teachers was to focus not on student behavior, but on the teaching technique of the individual who was most familiar to them.

Examining TV Families: Joan Perry

Joan Perry teaches in the Marshall Middle School, and she teaches both language arts and social studies, possessing an undergraduate degree in education and more than twenty years of experience in the classroom. Her motivation to teach media literacy comes primarily from her interest in helping students make connections between the humanities and social studies, her interests in the representation of gender, race, class, and ethnicity in the mass media, and her concern that students become engaged in the learning process and personally responsible for their own education. Joan commented on the tension at work in wanting to include more media literacy activities but feeling tied down by the demand to "cover content," in terms of the specific content she is responsible for addressing in her social studies class. For example, she tries to include media literacy concepts even when she is teaching about the Renaissance, as she invites students to critically examine the images and the points of view which are emphasized and invisible in the textbook.

Her lesson on TV families was taught for to 7th graders for two 40-minute periods of a span on two days. The general approach for the lesson involved brainstorming of key ideas about being a critical viewer, with some media research being done by the students during class time and at home, and some discussion about the perceived realism of different prime-time situation comedies. Joan identified three broad goals for the learning experience:

  1. students should gain the experience of watching television actively and to appreciate that the media's representation of families was constructed;
  2. students should gain skills of critical decision-making based on evidence from a range of sources;
  3. students should gain an appreciation and respect for their own (and others') opinions and choices.

Prior to the first session, the students were given a sheet which outlined a comprehensive "pre-viewing assignment" to be completed the night before the first class presentation. The assignment required students to make a list of films or TV shows that portrayed families. The students then had to evaluate each of these families on the basis of their being 'realistic' or 'unrealistic' and they had to provide specific evidence to support their choices.

The teacher began the session by asking students to define 'media' and the idea of being a 'critical viewer' in their own words. They brainstormed a list of different types of media and agreed that all media are messages and that many messages included both print and visual components. Students in this classroom quickly identified that 'critical' didn't necessarily have a negative connotation, but that being critical had more to do with understanding the message rather than assigning labels like 'good' and 'bad.' In a carefully guided discussion, the teacher led the students through a process of generating a set of elements that 'critical viewers' use to make their judgments about various mass media. The list that was generated including the following concepts: realism, entertainment value, age appropriateness, credibility, and quality of construction.

To further the concept of being a critical viewer, the teacher asked the students to make use of their previewing assignment to examine those programs that were identified as 'realistic.' The development of this list was vigorous and was punctuated by the spontaneous singing and humming of theme songs associated with the TV shows the kids were suggesting. The session ended with a list of programs that students identified as 'realistic' for the 1990s. These programs included Family Matters, The Simpsons, Murphy Brown, Fresh Prince of BelAir, Step by Step, Family Ties and Full House.

On the second day, the session began by intensifying the analysis of the family show listings. The teacher led the students through a step-by-step process of analyzing the shows with a greater attention to specific details outlined on a 'Viewing Analysis' sheet. This list of questions invited students to consider the characteristics of how family relationships were represented, and included the following categories: name of show, age of children, age of parents, number of people in the family, number of pets, describe the problem, who caused the problem, describe the solution, who resolved the solution. After discussing some of these questions in terms of specific shows, students concluded that many of the family problems presented in the programs they had watched earlier in the week could not, in fact, be solved satisfactorily in the 30-minute air time for the show.

In the classroom, one student was adamant about the fact that many of the problems and relationships depicted on these shows are realistic and that the situations could really happen. For example, after the teacher showed students a short clip from The Simpsons, one student recognized that Homer Simpson's beer drinking may reflect some fathers. In Full House, the students also felt that the ability of the characters to help each other solve their problems with sensitivity and caring was also an accurate portrayal of many families.

Students concluded by discussing the following question: "Describe the kind of relationship you see portrayed between one character and another. Is the relationship loving, supportive, hateful, full of put-downs, etc.?" The teacher noted that the children were actively involved in debating the perceived realism of different programs and they discovered that different students make different judgements about realism, depending on their own particular experiences and backgrounds. The idea that realism is an interpretive judgement, not an intrinsic characteristic of a message, did come through in the lesson, according to both the teacher and the observer.

Analyzing Broadcast News: Judith Giroux

Judith Giroux is a journalism teacher at Memorial High School, and she teaches different levels of journalism to mixed age groups of students aged 14 - 18. Judy is an experienced journalism educator who has considerable experience in integrating both media analysis and media production within her courses. She is also comfortable adapting the activities to students with a wide range of abilities, since she has both younger and older students together in her classes.

Judith identifies a range of goals in her own approach to integrating media literacy within journalism education. She identifies the following as central concepts she expects students to apply when reading or viewing news:

  1. to realize that all messages are constructions that are created for a specific purpose and effect that is determined by the news organization;
  2. to learn that messages represent the social realities of the times and places far removed from the student's own world;
  3. to understand that a skillful viewer should examine many different stylistic features of a medium and should pay careful attention to the context in which the message occurs;
  4. to recognize that each form of communication has unique characteristics-- television news differs in many ways from print news;
  5. to learn to recognize the concept of "audience" when using news media.

On the day of the observation, Judith handed out a survey form which was to be completed at home. The survey asked questions about the news consumption patterns of various family members. Judith later used the surveys as a framework for discussion and analysis about family patterns of news media usage. This survey included questions like: * What news programs are watched at home? Who watches? How were programs selected? Is a newspaper part of home life? How frequently does the newspaper arrive? If so, who reads it? Do any family members read a newsmagazine? If so, why was that particular one selected? Which medium do you use to get information about current events?

After introducing that assignment, Judith and her students examined an episode of CBS Evening News which had aired two days earlier. The class was divided up into groups of six or seven. Each student in the group had to watch the broadcast with a specific target task in mind. For those analyzing news, one student was in charge of looking at the relationship between the visual images and the verbal message to see which stories had the a close connection between image and sound and which stories had images used to 'wallpaper' over a story where the images were essentially decorative. Another student's task was to identify the various points of view which were characterized in the segment elements; another examined the time elapsed for each story; another identified the placement within the program.

For those students who were analyzing the advertising within the news program, one student had the task of logging all ads. Another had to identify the target audience for each ad. Another team of students examined the techniques of persuasion used in each ad. Students watched the broadcast in its entirety, and reviewed specific segments in order to complete their tasks. In the following class, small groups worked to determine patterns and relationships between the data collected by students. Students discussed the news organization's decisions about story importance; they identified various target audiences, including the elderly, affluent males, and busy professionals. They discussed what information was missing from the nightly news and made a list of where a viewer could go to get more information about various issues.

The teacher-observer for this classroom session noted how well this specific activity allowed for differences in cognitive abilities, writing ability, and generally made use of the diverse age grouping of the class. Some students were assigned the more concrete tasks, like counting and naming, while others were assigned tasks which involved more complex skills of analysis. Both teacher and observer recognized that this activity helped to create interest in news among students, and that it served to orient students to the idea of an 'author' in the newsmaking process, which is not always a transparent concept for adolescents.

Analyzing Historical Representation: Don Staveley

Don Staveley is a Billerica High School history teacher who is considered by many to be in a leadership role in the high school community. Don has initiated a number of projects which have made use of video technology to increase student and faculty communication at the high school. One project he developed focused on the school's "philosophy," its set of conceptual values which were identified as essential for a successful high school experience. Using a "man-in-the-street" camera, Don interviewed a wide range of high school students and teachers about their perceptions of the concepts and created a series of seven lively, fast-paced, edited videotapes which provided a synopsis of student and faculty opinions about concepts such as responsibility, integrity, trust and commitment. These tapes were riveting to students and faculty alike. They were frank, free-wheeling, and controversial. They served to stimulate conversation within classrooms, and generally promoted a school-wide awareness of the importance of having consensus about the values of being a student at Billerica Memorial High School.

Don's motivation to integrate media literacy within the context of his history courses comes from the following basic aims:

  1. to strengthen students' skills of critical viewing and interaction with al media forms;
  2. to take academic knowledge and apply it to real-world experiences;
  3. to strengthen students' experience in collaboration with others;
  4. to strengthen students' writing skills using a 'process writing' approach;
  5. to use history to examine cultural realities and to use varied accounts of history to appreciate current constructions of 'reality' or 'news.'

Two observers watcheded Don implement two different projects with two different classes of 9th and 10th grade high school students. In one activity, students had been studying the period 1700 - 1800 for the past three months. The lesson observed was the introduction of the final project, which would invite students, in groups of three, to create a final report on the time period using one of the following media formats: newspaper, talk show, tabloid, radio talk show, newscast, skit, multi-media presentation, or comic book. Students would have two weeks to complete the project.

At the beginning of the session, Don introduced the lesson by handing out an assignment sheet with the rationale, the parameters of the project, and other details. As an example, Don invited students to consider what a mock newspaper from the French revolution would look like. Here is a sample of conversation:

Teacher: If the date was 1794, the Reign of Terror, what would the paper look like?
Student: Blood, dead people, guillotines.
Teacher: The obituaries would be three pages long.
Student: It would be censored. No way would there be freedom of speech.
Teacher: What would the headlines be?
Student: 30,000 killed.
Teacher: What about the advertising?
Student: Guillotine sharpening.
Student: Join the Army.

Since Don had used this activity before (with different students and a different historical time period), he showed students samples of student-produced projects. There was a lot of enthusiasm in the room. Students were anxious to form groups, and some students chose to work alone. As the initial planning work began, Don made the following remarks: "Demonstrate your understanding of history in these projects. Imagination must be based on history. Decide on your format first. Write a script if you're doing to do a talk show. If you're writing a comic book, outline the story and develop one chapter well. For a gazette: choose the date and research."

For another class, and in a different assignment, Don wanted students to explore the representation of historic figures in popular mass media as compared with other historical accounts. He created an assignment which invited teams of students to "adopt a hero." They chose among the following historical figures: Thomas More, Michaelangelo, Columbus or Martin Luther, and then watch one of the following films: A Man for All Seasons, The Agony and the Ecstasy, 1492 or Luther. Don created an assignment sheet which provides a brief rationale outlining the purpose of the project, and a list of elements for the team to research. They must describe the specific European context at the historical period in question, describe the visual setting employed in the film, compare and contrast the character as represented in the film to the two other accounts, explain how the filmmaker used techniques to show that the 'hero' really was a hero, and examine the value of the film as a source of historical information.

During the observation, students had already seen the films, and were working in the library to collect information about their "heroes." Students worked in small teams, and Don visited each group during the class period and led them towards specific kinds of reference material and monitored the groups to ensure that each group stayed on task.

In evaluating this activity after its completion, Don believed that both A Man for All Seasons and Luther were probably beyond the ability of most of the students to comprehend. Don believed that he needed to model specific elements of the activity and develop a specific planned sequence of practice activities before "throwing students into the soup," since only about one-half of his students were able to accomplish this assignment as effectively as Don had hoped. Both Don and the classroom observer recognized that Don's ability to innovate hed to an enormously creative classroom environment, which students responded to well. His comfort with developing curriculum by trying new ideas and revising activities was evident in his own self-reflective stance and careful observation of the students' behavior. By integrating media literacy concepts into the existing curriculum, Don managed to blend the necessary focus on historical content and method with the development of critical analysis and creative communication skills.

Word Processing Technology and Media Violence: Nick Ines

Nick Ines is a former middle-school English teacher who has developed expertise in computer literacy and is now is responsible for the computer classes which are a part of the middle-school curriculum. He has twenty years of experience as a teacher and is very comfortable with technology. Nick is also is known for his ability to manage, organize and keep a group of colleagues focused on the task at hand. This was a valuable skill, since many teachers had very little sustained experience in task-oriented working groups. As a result, for the Masters' Degree coursework, any working group that included Nick Ines was sure to have a sophisticated technological application in computers, video or print, and the level of teamwork and coordination he helped foster created strikingly original, creative and well-organized work. 7

Nick sees connections between media literacy education and technology education. His general goals for integrating media literacy concepts within his "skills-oriented" computer literacy class are embodied in this statement: "If students can leave my program understanding that all media, including the software that they use, are constructions, that media production is motivated by special interest and that media can affect them without their conscious knowledge, than I have successfully conveyed some important media concepts."

In one lesson, Nick introduced media literacy concepts by asking his students to demonstrate their ability to use word-processing and publishing software by asking students to prepare a mock-up of the front page of a newspaper. The front page would contain the various elements common to most newspapers: banners, headline, multi-column articles, graphics and images.

In a previous class, Nick had asked students to create a news story suitable for the publication. When students listed the types of stories they had created, the categories included human interest, sports, politics, accidents, baby stories, alien encounters, stories about violence and advertisements. Students seemed surprised when Nick pointed out the similarities and differences between their topics and the contents of a newspaper. Nick commented outside of class on his dismay to find that students' general familiarity with newspapers was low and that their major contact with newspapers was mainly through the sports pages.

Students did recognize their own application of the concepts of "Who, what where when, why and how" and then Nick led students into a discussion focused not simply on what was told, but also what or whose story was not told. The teacher observed noted, "I could tell by the responses of students and their level of animation that they were coming in contact with an area that they had never encountered."

On the following day, Nick explored the content contained in the articles students had written, many of which contained violence, either through exposition or through graphics. He asked the students whether the violence was characteristic or reflective of the culture they live in or whether their selection of violent material originated in the desire to appeal to audience interest in order to sell newspapers. Nick used discussion with the whole class to help students recognize that their choice of content originated from a number of different news and 'reality TV' programs featuring police, victims and criminals rather than from their own life experience or experience with print media.

Nick invited students to analyze why violence was so popular. Students created a list:

  • it was easier to write about
  • the themes were familiar and predictable
  • violence is part of life
  • violence is contained in a large part of the information we receive from mass media

Nick concluded the class session by commenting on how, due to media messages, our society may be reaching a level of 'comfort violence,' which makes the presence of violence invisible, ordinary and normal-- and that to tolerate violence in this manner is to create a culture where everyone is at risk. Afterward, Nick recognized that he was "standing on his soap box in front of the kids," by concluding with a little speech about the evils of violence, but he feels passionately that his students need to know that he finds the culture of violence to be reprehensible. He is careful not to blame his students for their own interest in violence, but he is burdened with a concern that his students are "tuned in to the cultural priorities of the media, and turned off by the priorities and values of the school."

Beyond the Book and the Movie: Vincent DeFeo

Vincent DeFeo is a high school English teacher at Memorial High School in Billerica, and has an extensive, lifelong interest in film and mass media. He graduated from Emerson College, the first college in the nation devoted exclusively to the study of communication and has been teaching for almost twenty years. He served as the resident film expert for the Masters' Degree program, and was a valuable resource in helping teachers to identify appropriate films which could enrich specific literary works, themes, or historical periods.

His motivation to teach media literacy is focused on helping develop students' imagination and analysis skills in the context of understanding literature and film. He identifies his aims:

  1. to help students visualize both real and figurative images as derived from literary sources;
  2. to show students how one's personal experience is part of the process of connecting to a written literary 'story';
  3. to apply key conventions of storytelling to the genres of literature and film;
  4. to analyze the construction of the film image;
  5. to strengthen students' interpretation and imagination in the reading process

In this class of 9th graders, Vincent has been reading A Separate Peace. with the students. Working on Chapter 3, Vincent begins the class period with a "quickie quiz," a series of questions for students to answer in writing. These questions were concerned with the characters in the novel, and the questions encouraged students to reflect on the connections between the story and their personal experiences. After students finished writing, Vincent invited students to respond to the questions orally. Few responded. He read a selected passage from the novel which illustrated a particular relationship between two characters and asked the class if anyone had experienced a similar situation. Few responded.

Vincent then showed a segment of the film, A Separate Peace. He selected an image of a tree which was central to the narrative theme. The students readily offered their analysis of how the director used camera angles and other techniques to convey the story's real and figurative meaning. The "tree" image was shot to create the feeling of a loss of balance through camera movement. When asked if anyone could recall a similar situation with a tree, several students said they had and two personal stories from students aided the quality of the discussion. Discussion of this scene and the development of the characters at this point in the film suggested that students were connecting the story to their own experience.

When Vincent asked students to compare and contrast the literary work to the film, students were clearly more uncomfortable with the visual scene of the boys diving beyond the river bank, into the water, as compared with their emotional disengagement to the same scene in the novel. According to the teacher-observer, the "literary version of the story elicited less spontaneous and emotional responses than the film." Students seemed unwilling or unable to reflect on the figurative elements of the novel and the film. One key scene from the film seemed less accessible to students, and Vincent noted that this scene is dependent on language, not images, to appreciate the relationships.

Vincent commented on his own observations about students' skills in analyzing literary works and filmic works. His concern after this class: "Students' increasing reliance on content that is 'real' and 'visual' works to the detriment of their ability to deal with content that is figurative, not literal, and imaginative." Vincent is delighted to be able to integrate his interest in film and media with his work as a high school English teacher. For him, media literacy is "like coming home," since it was what drew him into the enterprise of English teaching in the first place. Even though the high school English teachers appreciate this method of analyzing film and literary works, they feel that such work is often a luxury, since students must read 8 or more books in a semester. While Vin and colleagues agree with the principle that students need time to study and analyze specific works rather than race through material in order to "cover" it, the English program is organized around the reading of specific books, and Vincent and his colleagues are not sure how to go about the process of revising this approach to "make room" for media literacy activities in a literature class.

Commentary and Analysis

Three principal lessons emerge from the research process which formed part of the experience of developing a long-term media literacy program in Billerica, Massachusetts. Although we recognize that the most common way for teachers to enter the field of media literacy is through their own self-motivation, we observed that teachers in Billerica benefited greatly from regular access to each other and that teachers got increased power when they collaborated in staff teams. High school teachers, for example, were often quite pleased, startled and intrigued to learn of the work of teachers at the elementary level, and through teamwork and shared opportunities to engage with their colleagues, they learned much about the practices of learning and teaching at all levels. While some teachers often carried out projects independently or (occasionally) refused to enter into a collaborative team, there was much genuine enthusiasm for team projects, and a fair amount of energy with the anticipation of working with "this person" or "that person" within the group. Some classroom conversations with Masters' Degree teachers was devoted to reflections on teachers' sense of inadequacy about how to help students manage group task work when they themselves found it so laborious, challenging and emotionally intense. Several teachers reflected on the fact that they did not have group tasks as a part of their own early education. Teachers struggled with the challenges implicit in collaborative activity, since teachers generally have a high degree of perceived autonomy within the classroom, which serves as the 'perk' to compensate for low pay and inferior working conditions.

Reflecting on the powerful ways in which teachers' sense of responsibility to a team operates on an individual's understanding of the connections across subject areas, Ted Sizer notes that "the coherence of the [educational] program presented for the students, however, is the sum of the team's areas of expertise-- the musician, the writer, the literary critic, the painter and the actor collectively addressing the Arts, not one by one but each supporting the team's mastery of the entire field and each in her own specialty holding the team to a demanding standard" (Sizer, 1992, p. 179). While teachers may hesitate about their responsibility for the work of other colleagues, when teachers are encouraged to spend time together, to share pleasurable experiences and collaborate, they discovered the delight, pleasure and authentic personal growth that comes from opening up the door to your own classroom and looking around at what's going on next door.

Teachers observed that projects that involved collaboration did receive more attention and support from school administrators than projects developed by teachers individually. However, it also appeared that as the team of media literacy teachers grew stronger within the school community, a number of factors served to diminish or reduce their influence. For example, during the three years in which 26 teachers received intensive media literacy training, none of the administrative staff including principals, department heads and school curriculum specialists received any training whatsoever. Only one department head was a regular observer in the course of three years of weekly meetings. As a result, teachers often found little support and occasionally great hostility to their efforts. Many teachers complained that while they had the "official" support of the superintendent, their direct supervisors would dismiss or trivialize media literacy, withhold the small resources they would request, or otherwise put roadblocks in their efforts to develop new activities and programs for students.

The following questions remain: what kinds of attitudes encourage teachers to collaborate? What forces discourage such collaboration? What role does prior experience play in teachers' comfort in working with a partner or small team? What sorts of hands-on group task work best serves to develop teachers' skills in managing student group task work? How can media literacy activities serve to promote the growth of teachers' skills in working collaboratively?

Another phenomenon identified through interviews with teachers in the Billerica Initiative is that teachers who chose to continue their professional development in media literacy perceived that the processes or skills involved in media analysis and production as directly relevant to the subjects and skills that they already teach. The cases presented in this chapter show how teachers with various content responsibilities manage to integrate media literacy concepts and activities in their teaching. For a conversation about media violence in the context of a word-processing and desktop publishing skills development course for middle-school students to happen, a teacher needs to have a high level of comfort with trying new ideas, a sense of his or her own perspective, values and ideology, and an appreciation for how students will manage these ideas when they get exposed to them.

Several teachers voiced concerns about the difficulty of building connections between media literacy and various subject areas. Teachers asked themselves whether media literacy, as a set of concepts and practices, should be integrated into every class where literacy skills are called upon, or should media literacy have the legitimacy to stand by itself, as a set of knowledge and skills which deserves attention independent of its connection to literature, history, technology education or the arts. The tension around this issue reflects Michael Apple's (1990) observations about the relationship between ideology and curriculum, since Billerica teachers noted that, as a domain, 'mass media' is considered far too trivial, secondary and minor in relation to traditional subject areas, hence integrating media literacy within the curriculum is a survival strategy, since "schools preserve and distribute what is perceived to be 'legitimate knowledge.' Schools confer cultural legitimacy on the knowledge of specific groups" (Apple, 1990, p. 63-64). It seems unlikely that schools as cultural institutions will be willing to recognize the legitimacy of knowing about and analyzing mass media as long as high ranking education officials persist on blaming 'evil media' for lower reading scores or demonizing media and promoting the image of the helpless innocent, manipulated by capitalistic media barons.

Billerica educators received an enormous amount of negative pressure when they chose to accept Whittle's 'Channel One' as a classroom resource, even when in doing so, educators recognized its potential as a tool to create opportunities to strengthen students' skills of critical analysis. The established paradigm among educational elites-- that television is inadequate, dangerous, inferior -- means that media literacy educators cannot, at present, make claims that appear to shift or challenge the current distribution of 'legitimate knowledge.'

Most of the teachers who make use of media literacy concepts in their curriculum describe their own high levels of concern about their students' relationships with media culture. Teachers who do not perceive media literacy's connection to their curriculum, who believed that media study was displacing the study of more important subjects, or who are not personally worried about children and the influence of media were more likely to use media as a tool for accessing information, documenting student performance on traditional tasks, and unlikely to continue professional development in media literacy.

Among the teachers participating in the staff development program, almost 40% identify themselves as non-traditional learners. We hypothesize that since media literacy acknowledges the importance of visual and auditory modes of expression and communication, teachers with these skill sets find particular satisfaction and personal growth. A review of the background of participating teachers, plus a number of interview comments show that teachers enrolled in the Billerica Initiative were highly sensitive to the various ways in which people learn new ideas. This topic was particularly evident in activities which required collaboration between teachers, and many teachers commented that observing how their colleagues learned in different ways made them more sensitive to the learning styles of the students in their classrooms.

The opportunity to meet regularly for a sustained period of time with a group of teaching colleagues to reflect deeply on issues related to youth, media culture, pedagogy, and literacy for the information age is a rare and precious experience, by no means a normal part of the staff development experience for most American teachers. The Billerica Initiative was made possible by a shared vision of literacy, embraced and respected by all levels of school administrators and not imposed upon teachers, but selected by teachers as a voluntary opportunity for renewal and professional growth. As a model for staff development, its strengths consist of its sensitivity to the complex territory of media analysis and production, in relation to the diverse symbol systems of language, music, and images, in the diverse contexts of mass media forms as they exist in the culture at the end of the 20th century. The Billerica Initiative created a "community of learners," devoted to the exploration of all things media, sensitive to point of view, representation, context, culture and economics.

The Billerica Initiative required a major, long-term commitment by a team of educators, not an easy task in the face of quick-fix, short-term, emergency planning which is all too common in public education. The Billerica Initiative put responsibility for making changes in educational practice into the laps of the leading teachers in the school district, without freeing them up from any of their existing duties and responsibilities, creating an (at times) impossible situation for teachers as they were forced to choose between doing the work required of them as teachers and doing the work required of them as students, with not enough connection between the two tasks and not enough hours in the day to do both well.

Rebecca Hawthorne points out that English teachers have particular challenges as they try to integrate all that is expected from them into a compelling set of curricular choices: "The scope of English heightens the individuality of curricular patterns...Teachers are left to weave the various components into a coherent pattern for themselves and their students" (Hawthorne, 1992, p. 116). When individuality is placed at a premium, collaborative work between teachers and students is compromised. In the end, it may be that the privelege of teacher autonomy and individuality plus the treadmill of five preparations a day serves to make collaborative work between U.S. teachers nearly impossible and limits their opportunities to initiate, implement and sustain educational activities that bridge across classrooms.


Teachers' choices about what to do in the classroom are motivated by their own underlying philosophies about the subject area, the processes of learning, and their own assessment of their own and their students' skills and talents. For many teachers, the dominant application of media literacy is in textual analysis, not creative production. The instructional technique of 'textual reading' is a familiar and comfortable process for most teachers. Few teachers in the U.S. have the access to production technology or the flexibility in their curriculum to involve students in media production, and many are sensitive to the historical contexts in which media production has occurred in schools. They implicitly recognize that they work in a culture where media production activities have been "variously exploited to motivate alienated under-achievers, to extend self expression and to develop individual creativity as ends in themselves" (Grahame, 1990, p. 148). Even when teachers have the skills to implement a media production activity, large class sizes and the 45-minute period limits teachers' ability to provide students with effective and meaningful hands-on experience in creating, designing and producing media projects.

Media literacy will probably continue to grow as a result of the individual efforts of teachers as they discover the resource materials, professional groups, and networks of educators with shared interests, and emerging scholarly literature. Work within individual classrooms will always be at the heart of media literacy pedagogy. But if media literacy is to emerge as a new vision of literacy for the information age, then a high degree of coordination will be required from among a wide range of shareholders: the scholarly community, educators in K - 12 environments, school administrators and educational leaders, parents, the technology, publishing and media production industries, and the standardized testing industry. Given the decentralized and politicized nature of American schools, it is unlikely that such coordination will receive the national or even meaningful state-level support it needs, and more likely that media literacy initiatives will develop as a result of innovation and experimentation in the diverse "labs" of individual districts, schools and classrooms.

The Billerica Initiative
Billerica Public Schools
Billerica, MA


Media education is defined as the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and communicate messages in a variety of forms. Educators are coming to recognize that, in a world saturated with media messages, it is important for students to be able to access, critically examine and communicate using print, images, video and other forms of expression. In addition, it is no longer adequate to pretend that the information received from television is peripheral to a student's life -- mass-mediated messages are now central to our political system, our understanding of global issues, and the ways in which we perceive ourselves in relation to others. In part because of its ubiquity and pervasiveness, teaching about the media can be relevant to a number of curricular areas, including language arts, social studies, health, vocational education, journalism, science and technology, and the arts.

The Billerica Initiative is the first district-level effort nationwide to implement comprehensive media literacy education throughout grades K - 12, fully integrated within existing subject areas. Because of this commitment, it has gained the attention of the academic community, educational publishers, video manufacturers and others who recognize that teacher education must be at the center of any real change in education.

Components of the Initiative

  1. IN-SERVICE TEACHER EDUCATION. This is a multi-layered approach to give teachers knowledge and skills for two purposes: a) to gain skills in integrating key concepts of media literacy into existing language arts, social studies, art and science curricula; and b) to help teachers use and analyze communication technology tools, including computers and video production activities as part of the classroom curriculum.

    The Master's Degree in Media Literacy is the first such degree program in the nation, and will serve as a model for other districts seeking to integrate comprehensive media literacy into the K-12 curriculum through in-service training. The program, consisting of 12 graduate credit courses in collaboration with the Merrimack Education Center and Fitchburg State College, will enable teachers from a variety of subject areas and grade levels to "grow their own" curricular materials and tailor media literacy efforts to each unique site. Teachers who complete this program will be the trainers for continued professional development efforts at other sites regionally and nationwide.

    Site-based seminars and outreach efforts make it possible for a school district to nurture a community of experienced and knowledgeable educators responsive to the goals of media education, and communicate the purposes of media literacy education effectively to parents and community members.

  2. ASSESSMENT OF STUDENT LEARNING. This is a plan for designing a comprehensive assessment methodology, with specific benchmarks of the performance expectations for students. The research plan for l993-94 includes:

    A. Ethnographic reports of classroom practice. Researchers will observe student and teacher behavior in the naturalistic context of the classroom, focusing on those behaviors and skills which teachers use which reflect the key concepts of media literacy education.

    B. Interviews and writing from students. Researchers will identify the most significant benchmarks which indicate competence in the skills of media literacy and examine how students of different ages perform at different points during the school year.

    C. Teacher observations, interviews and journals. Researchers will identify those attitudes, behaviors, values and goals which characterize teachers who are most likely to experience success in integrating media literacy into existing curriculum.

  3. OUTREACH TO THE COMMUNITY. This component of the program aims to provide information to educators regionally and across the nation about the design and implementation of the Billerica Initiative.

    A. The Ad Lab. This program involves students and teachers in an authentic learning experience of working in an advertising agency and performing all aspects of the design and implementation of a ad campaign. In the 1993-94 school year, the Ad Lab has selected anti-smoking awareness as the theme for the ad campaign. More than 900 elementary students were involved in the creation of the campaign slogan and students will create newspaper and magazine ads, billboards, T-shirts, bumper stickers, posters, radio ads and video public service announcements which will be disseminated throughout the community.

    B. The Billerica Minuteman: Media Watch Column For more than a year, Billerica educator Bill Walsh has been writing a weekly column on media literacy, designed to introduce parents and community members to the process of critically analyzing and reflecting on media culture. These columns have been downloaded on national media literacy databases to on-line audiences and serve as an model of how to bring media literacy into the community in a high-impact, low cost manner.

    C. Videotape: Tuning in to Media. This videotape, produced by Dr. Renee Hobbs, showcases several Billerica teachers to illustrate what media literacy looks like in actual classrooms. The program features interviews with young people and teachers as they include the mass media as study objects in social studies, language arts and the visual and performing arts.

    D. Satellite Teleconferencing: Media Literacy in Action. A one-hour interactive teacher education teleconference featuring Billerica educators was sponsored by MCET on January 19, 1994, linking together teachers from across the state of Massachusetts with educators nationwide to discuss and analyze media literacy activities in the context of language arts and social studies.

  4. TECHNOLOGY IN THE SCHOOLS. In 1994, the community passed a multimillion dollar bond to raise monies to support technology in the schools. Computer and video production technology capabilities have been enhanced in each school in the district, making it possible for teachers to include hands-on production exercises beginning in kindergarten.

Scope and Sequence of Courses for the EdM

In order to complete the field-based Masters' Degree in Media Literacy, teachers must take the following twelve courses:

  1. Introduction to Media Literacy

    This course provides a basic overview of the key concepts in media education, focusing on strengthening skills of media analysis through an examination of print and broadcast news and advertising and examining how media literacy concepts and activities connect to subject areas including language arts and social studies. Teachers make their own video in a collaborative project to experiment with the creative process.

  2. Analysis of News and Information

    This course provides a framework for advanced analysis of news and information products in a variety of media, including print, video, image-based multimedia and other forms. This course examines the ways in which news and information products are created, disseminated and consumed, and provides a set of evaluative strategies to think critically about news and information. In addition, this course will explore how journalism and video production activities can be strengthened with the infusion of media literacy concepts.

  3. Analysis of Advertising and Media Economics

    This course provides opportunities for advanced analysis of advertising and the economic structure of mass media industries, including book publishing, billboards, magazines, information services, newspapers, broadcasting and cable television. The course will explore how media literacy concepts can enrich the study of language arts, social studies, science and math, and the visual and performing arts. Teachers design their own ad campaign using print, audio, visual and video tools.

  4. Media Literacy and Arts Education

    This course provides opportunities for advanced analysis of the aesthetic issues concerning the analysis and production of messages in a variety of forms, including graphic design, photography, video production, multimedia and other forms. The course will explore how teachers can make links between the products of high culture and the products of popular culture in order to strengthen students' analytic, creative and communication skills. Teachers create their own multimedia projects using images, sound and language.

  5. Storytelling and the Analysis of Mass Media Narratives

    This course provides opportunities for advanced analysis of the huge volume of stories which reach us everyday via television, cable, popular music and print. A framework will be provided to help teachers integrate analysis of the concepts which are at the foundation of popular stories: the cult of celebrity, multiple plot lines, dramatic conflict and the use of violence, sensationalism. Strategies for helping students strengthen analytic and creative communication skills through the analysis of popular narrative will be explored.

  6. Practicum 1Curriculum Design Seminar in Media Education
  7. Practicum 2: Curriculum Design Seminar in Media Education

    These two courses provides opportunities for teachers to design their own curricular materials which connect media literacy concepts to a particular subject area. By completing a final paper, students who enroll in the Harvard Institute in Media Education can receive practicum credit for participating in this week-long institute. Teachers who participate in the Ad Lab, an authentic working advertising agency within the school district, will work collaboratively to initiate multimedia production and analysis projects with their students.

  8. Television and Multimedia as Instructional Tools

    This course will introduce teachers to the range of appropriate uses and misuses of technology and media in the classroom, exploring the critical and pedagogical philosophy which underlies media use. Teachers will develop skills for evaluating media resources from sources including Cable in the Classroom, Whittle Channel One, public television, alternative media and media art. Teachers will explore new media, including laser discs, CD ROMS, on line services, and distance learning opportunities.

  9. Designing and Producing Video Messages

    This course gives teachers the advanced skills in video production which will enable them to design and produce videotapes which have instructional value. Teachers will learn strategies for effective pre-production, production and post-production and develop a video production with a small team.

  10. Integrating Media Production Activities into the Curriculum

    This course provides opportunities for the systematic examination of how hands-on work with print, images and video can be used to strengthen students understanding of various subject areas, promote teamwork and effective problem-solving, and improve written, oral and visual communication skills. Special attention to the role of the teacher, the design of learning activities, and issues of class management, discipline and course structure will be explored.

  11. Global Perspectives in Media Education

    This course gives teachers the opportunity to analyze the pedagogical philosophy underlying media education in the nations of Australia, Great Britain, Canada and Spain. Teachers will evaluate curriculum and resource materials available from these nations and explore the differences and similarities between U.S. approaches and that of other nations.

  12. Capstone Seminar: Media Education and School Reform

    This course examines the future of education by analyzing how media education may play a role in school reform efforts. Issues in media education are connected to various controversies in education reform, including critical pedagogy and empowerment theory, gifted and special needs education, cultural literacy and school choice.