Projects in Cultural and New Media Studies

Alright, so to say that this post is a little delayed may be an understatement. I wrapped up ETEC 531, Cultural and New Media Studies, in December 2018. Since then, I’ve been spinning around in one of those little life tunnels that happen sometimes, and keeping my head down to ensure that I dedicate the required 14 hours minimum a week to my current ETEC course that entails a ton of fascinating philosophy and education (posts to come, just as soon as the course ends in April) whilst being a good ESL teacher in my 8-4 Monday to Friday. Despite the slight lapse in reporting, ETEC 531 has made a big impact on the direction of my work and the approach I currently hold for my 2nd year of Masters. The course focused on a number of perspectives around cultural and new media studies, an intersection that was right up my interdisciplinary academic street. By working within the media studies discipline, we were guided through the process of developing the distinctions between media of, on and in education to gain an understanding of media and associated freedoms of cultural expression and the press for learning, teaching, and public pedagogy while being provided with a survey of media studies and new media with an emphasis on media education and literacy. Under the watchful (helpful) eye of Lori MacIntosch, my peers and I were shown how to balance media education and literacies, media & technology ethics and law, media & technology history, method, and theory with media production. This was conducted from ethical, theoretical and legal perspectives and emphasised the design of curriculum for teaching media studies and the integration of media literacy across curricula. I, of course, used every opportunity I could to relate this to my focus of conservation education that I’ve been threading through the course. But we’ll return to that a little later…

We began by developing a framework for understanding cultural and new media studies before applying elements of practice using various theoretical, conceptual, legal and methodological frameworks. In order to do this, we looked at a variety of resources and partook in various projects both independently and collaboratively. We covered a lot, but the materials were fascinating and I worked hard to make sure that I not only completed the required tasks but engaged with the course materials and assignments in a way that resulted in me really internalizing the information and key concepts. To supplement our readings, there were weekly online discussion forums in which we were invited to answer furthering questions or provide insights, whilst responding to posts by our peers and thus all deepening the understanding of the topics we investigated each week. By the end of the course, I had traversed a set of 12 modules that in their entirety covered the following topics:

  • Media Semantics (Who or what is media? What is media studies? What is new media?)
  • Media Education Literacies (Key concepts, content and curriculum, digital literacies)
  • Media and Technology production (social media, in schools, still/motion image, audio/sound)
  • Media and Technology, Ethics and Law (Free speech and freedom of the press, Free inquiry and freedom of thought, regulatory codes or codes of ethics, political and symbolic speech, audio and video survellience)
  • Academic Freedom (controversial subjects, intellectual freedom, instructional methods and materials, books and resource bans)
  • Copyright Intellectual Property Rights (Open Source, Open Access, Fair dealing and use)
  • Research Methods (dimensioning phenomena, mapping methods, framing)
  • Media and Technology Theories (Being, Knowing and Doing, Critical Theory, Ecology, Technology and Culture)
  • History of Media and Technology (media education and media studies, histographies and critical histories)

By swimming through this sea of research and information, I was able to develop my personal understandings of critical cultural and media literacy approaches to understanding complex issues in the educational context, before transposing them onto conservation education projects rooted in media studies principles. This was probably my favourite part of the course, being able to take the concepts and theories studied and extending them into materials and practical resources of my own. In particular, our projects entailed designing curricular materials for teaching media studies and media literacies. There were 3 of these projects in total and the first two have already been posted on this MET portfolio: the first is a short autobiographical video and the second a media studies curriculum named Miyazaki and the Environment, containing a conservation education sub-focus, that I made in collaboration with Brian Haas. My third and final project was a media creation assignment, in which we were tasked with creating an educational resource on the topic of our choice. I created a short edutainment video, styled off YouTube channels like PBS Idea Channel and SciShow, that investigated the ties between Technology, Culture and the Environment. I’ve been aspiring to do a media piece on this topic for a while and it was fantastic to be presented with an opportunity to do so. In order to complete the project, I set up a DIY green-screen in my tiny bachelor pad in Thailand and spent about 2 hours recording takes before spending 2 weeks editing the video to get all the timing and image insertion done. I really wanted the video to take complex academic narratives and make them approachable and easy to grasp through clear summarised information and informal supporting visual clues. All in all, the hours put into it were worth it! It’s in no way a professional production but I think it does well in achieving its goal as a no-budget, 1 woman production (with the endless patience and technical assistance and training from Desmond Bowles, of course)! You’re welcome to view the finished video by clicking here or watching the embedded link below.

During this time, I also decided to also partake in a 6 week MOOC run by UBC on the EdX platform called Reconciliation through Indigenous Education. This course was designed to help participants envision how Indigenous histories, perspectives, worldviews, and approaches to learning can be made part of the work we do in classrooms, organizations, communities, and our everyday experiences in ways that are thoughtful and respectful. This was framed as a process of changing institutional structures, practices, and policies, as well as personal and professional ideologies to create environments that are committed to strengthening our relationships with Indigenous peoples. This involved exploring, deepening and engaging with worldviews, histories, social relations and discussions on this topic with micro focuses on weekly topics. This course was not only free, but tastefully and sensitively designed to offer a thorough and impactful engagement with this content that is helpful beyond the scope of the course. I was extremely impressed with the quality of the course and walked away with a certificate from the course and some new tools for my interdisciplinary social science toolbelt.

I walked into the last 10 days of the year in an exhausted but happy haze. First year was done and I felt all the richer for it and certainly ready and rearing to go for the upcoming second year. It has proved to be a busy but successful one thus far; A paper I wrote about Open Source Conservation Education was accepted to be presented at the OER19 conference in Galway, Ireland in April and I’ve just applied to the summer program on the UBC Vancouver campus for a 4 week intensive course hosted by the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainbility on the topic of Sustainable Futures and Ocean health. My days are spent teaching and my evenings are filled with the coursework and reading requirements of ETEC 531, Constructivism Strategies for e-Leaning with the helpful guidance of Dr Diana P. Janes. My final project for that course is currently in its construction stages, as is a small paper I hope to submit for publication in journals in the upcoming months. But first, my mother and sister come to visit Desmond and me in Thailand and then we head off for a short trip to San Francisco! Travel blogs aplenty! That’s all from me for now, more to come soon!

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