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Hello, I’m Brendan Gallagher, Media and Language Arts teacher at Fossil Ridge High School. If you’re listening to this, it’s probably because you have signed up for our introductory media studies class, officially titled, 21st-century media and technology. This is the first of several multimedia files that you are required to…excuse me…that you get to listen to or watch outside of class. Only a couple of the files, including this one, are audio only. Since this class focuses primarily on visual media, most of the multimedia files are visual also.
For today’s discussion, since we are at the beginning of the class, I want to address what I hope is an underlying question for all of you: What will you learn in this class? And, why should you learn those things?
I’ll give you my own thoughts on this in a moment, but first, I thought you might like to hear from your peers. I interviewed two students, Zach and Rachel, after their first semester in 21st Century Media and Technology.
Gallagher: What will you be able to do or know after taking this class that you didn’t know beforehand?
Rachel: I came in not knowing how to do anything of it. But then, you should be able to walk out, like, knowing what people want to see on TV and know how to make it, like, so they will be interested in watching it. Because if no one is going to watch it, then there’s no point in making it.
Zach: When you come out you should know how to break down a movie ‘cause now when I watch a movie I actually think in my head like the purpose of each scene and like where the lights are and everything. So you should be able to break down, like, movies and see the real values behind each shot, instead of just, like, a fighting scene, see what is actually going on there.
Gallagher: So, can you tell me in your own words why these skills are important to know?
Zach: Our generation is going into more technology and we have it all around us, like, the media is all around us everything that…makes it on TV. So we know, like, what they use and how they actually make that, ‘cause the more technology comes the more jobs there are going to be in using all this stuff, so it would actually, like, I think it would create more jobs for people, and you would actually know how.
Rachel: I think more of something when I see it and most people are visual learners. People learn by seeing things.
Rachel: I went home and I was talking to my neighbor or something, and he said, “I really wish they would have just let me make a video, like, a quick documentary about myself to do as my college instead of like an essay, or whatever, ‘cause its just a different way to express yourself.”
Of course, all of you listening to my voice have your personal reasons for taking the class, which will vary from student to student. The most common reason I hear is, “I thought it would be fun.” Some students tell me that, like Zach, they’re thinking about a career in film or TV production.
Both Rachel and Zach, I’m happy to say, focused on several of my key goals for the class. I do hope for you to learn how to watch TV, movies, and commercials more critically, and I do hope for you to make your own videos that adopt the best techniques of professional media. But let’s dig a little bit deeper into those goals.
You are children of the 90s, and, as such, you are born into a world of visual media. The culture you live in has taught you to be a consumer of commercials, TV shows, Youtube videos, movies, Facebook pages, and more. But, like a child at an all you can eat restaurant, what you choose to consume isn’t always what’s best for you. Eating everything that’s put in front of you without any thought wouldn’t be good for your health. When you were young children, your parents had to create your diet for you, but as you have aged you have learned about what effect different foods have on you so you can be in charge of your own diets. Similarly, I hope to teach you to be a critical consumer of media, to understand the many ways that you are manipulated through the language of video, sound, and the internet. And to challenge those manipulations with logic.
You may be born consumers of 21st-century media, but by the time you leave my class you will be creators of it as well. Billions of people are having conversations about whatever they think is important through videos, social media, and blogs. It is important to the world and to your personal fulfillment that you be able to participate in those conversations.
Bear with me for just a moment longer to explain why this matters so much. We live in a country that is founded on democratic principles, the concept that if you show all the people a variety of ideas, they have the right to choose the idea they believe in. And the whole world becomes increasingly democratic every year, as dictatorships are overthrown and representative republics or democracies replace the tyrants.
Well, in 2012, because of the dominant technologies on the internet, we have the ability to share our ideas more effectively, and with more people than ever before. Since the world’s citizens can only consider those ideas they are exposed to, the people who create the most persuasive videos and writings on the internet will be the most influential people in the world. I want you to be thoughtful, compassionate, brilliant creators of media so you can make the world a better place. In this class you will make movies, music videos, commercials, and more, you will probably have more fun than in any other class you have ever taken, but, please, never lose sight of the fact that you are learning how to share ideas in ways that matter. You are learning how to change the world.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts about this podcast. I’ll see you in class.