It is Hard to Copy a Digital World

I have recently been helping fellow staff members get a better understanding of Media Literacy. Because recent developments in Ontario education have put more emphasis on diversity in instruction and evaluation to accommodate Special Needs Students, many teachers face the challenge of finding new ways of  setting up their assignments.  A better understanding of various forms of media enables teachers to meet this challenge.  Opening up assignments to different forms of media provide students with better opportunities  to  demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of specific course content.

The biggest problem right now is that most teachers  are part of the Print Media Generation.  Most of their own education put an emphasis on Printed Text.  They are not entirely comfortable with evaluating  non-print media. Even more significantly, many of them really struggle with Digital Text and its effects of how their students learn and communicate.

The 20 plus years of Internet access have created new forms of media.  The most significant change is that Text does not have to be presented as part of a static layout on a piece of paper.  This change has dramatically affected how young people process information. Digital Text and Graphics are processed differently than Printed Text and Graphics. This change, together with shifts in cultural expectations and norms, increases the need for a more effective approach to Media Literacy.


The following set of questions  about attitude and behaviour towards Print and Digital Text suggest some of the re-thinking teachers now have to do to adjust to education in the 21st century.

The Digital Divide: Are You Part of the Print Generation ?

Do You:

  • Have a need to have a printed copy of e-mail or other e-documents saved on your computer ?
  • Feel that digitally stored/created “material” is less real than printed ?
  • Consider the following terms in some way equivalent: printed, published, hard copy, good copy ?
  • Tell students who have used coloured text, graphics and images in their work that it is okay to hand in a copy printed in just black ink ?
  • Ask for a printed copy of a slide show for evaluation purposes ?

Would You accept  the following for evaluation:

  • posters, magazine covers, magazine or news articles,story boards, sequential art narratives, photo essays formatted in PDF ?
  • audio, slide show, or movie production only if it had printed script ?
  • hypertexted reports / essays that are imbedded with links to other relevant source material, such as image, audio, video, or web links ?


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