It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these review posts for a #worldgeochat but after last night’s amazing conversation I just had to do it. There were forty different participants who joined in the conversation and tweeted out over five hundred times on a slew of different questions brought to us by our amazing guest moderator @julnilsmith. Julie is a Communications Professor out of St. Louis and was pumped to talk with the chat about the importance of Media Literacy as it relates to geography education. This topic is more relevant than ever for not only our students to know, but for ourselves as well. As educators there is an imperative to be a guiding force in filtering and synthesizing all the different media we as a society consume on a daily basis. It is hard work and all too often it goes under the radar. I’m only going to review the first three questions in this post today with a follow-up tomorrow.

The chat was livey (an understatement) and could be best summed up by one of the moderators, @SamMandeville:

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Let’s begin!

After some fun introductions we jumped right into question one. This chat moved fast and furious because of the inclusion of a few more questions than usual. That was just fine with the moderators because we love drinking from the #worldgeochat firehose. It’s fun for us (#worldgeochat’rs know more than a few inside jokes because we like to have fun while we learn… no I did not mention Google Earth last night but I will next week!)

Our first question of the night:

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What are our students learning from the media they consume? An interesting question indeed. What consumers are learning is also a question of where consumers are learning from. Our media sources influence the lens in which we see the world and if left unverified or unchecked it can cloud reality and create a perception of the world that isn’t based in reality. This point was brought up expertly early on by @jedikermit and @MsTurner1027 with their tweets:

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Violence, hatred, pain, suffering, Youtube, FakeNews, et al are all part of the daily media consumption of our students. It’s hard to filter what’s important. @LFU_MissCox  had a great thought along those lines:

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It is even worse than that though. We are also part of the problem and our students (and children) are reacting to our own failings as media consumers. I know I have been guilty of sharing a meme or two that I found out later to be fake. I could have done the smallest amount of research to get my facts straight before I posted, but sadly I did not…

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As a counterpoint, one of the chat’s veterans,@classroomtools, added this point that really hit home

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It’s fairly obvious, to me, that students aren’t learning to differentiate between news, entertainment, and deliberate disinformation. It’s not their fault, either. They’re kids and shouldn’t always have to worry about the harsh realities of the world. What they do need is to begin the process of building a healthy skepticism for all media that they consume.

Question 2:

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Social Studies… The study of us. This goes straight to the point I made about needing skills and tools to analyze, synthesize, and reflect on the perspective (bias) any media is offering up for consumption. It is the responsibility of social studies educators (geography matters!) to lead the charge in critical thinking skills and discerning consumption media. It is best summed up by this tweet by moderator @ecasey77:

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It’s our job. Period.

Question 3:

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It’s a sad reality of the 24hr news cycle we live in. Ever since the mid-late 1990s our news has been dominated by the large cable news networks (CNN, FoxNews, MSNBC, et al) that are looking for ratings, advertising dollars, and total viewership as a percentage of market share. How do they keep their viewers interested and tuned in to their message and brand? Once again Quinn Rollins put it best:

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The focus is always on “What’s next”. Since our news feeds on social media (Twitter is a perfect example) are organized in a What’s New VS. What’s Important way, we are fed information based on algorithms to get the most clicks and advertising dollars. This can only be maintained if there is always something ‘new’ to excite the brains of all the users.

In the new world order, it falls to the educator to be the voice of reason. To teach skills that will hopefully bring our media consumption from disparate perspectives into focus and allow our children to be better than we are at it.

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