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How to Make a Maker

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The Maker Movement as we know it today is generally held to have coalesced around the launch of MAKE: Magazine in 2005. MAKE: was created by Dale Dougherty, co-founder of O’Reilly Media (a publishing company focused on computer language handbooks), and creator of the first-ever commercial website on the Internet in 1993. He had initially intended to call the magazine HACK, after the original meaning of the word “hacker”—not someone who breaks into computers, but someone who takes things apart to make them better. However, his daughter Katie, then in her early 20s, was adamant that he call it something else. Hacking didn’t sound good, she said, she didn’t like it. She suggested he call it MAKE, because “everyone likes making things.”[i]

From the start, Making was meant to spread beyond expert hackers to “everyone.”  In this MediaLit Moment, students will discover the values that Makers identify with and promote, by examining a “crappy robots competition” that started in Japan and became popular with Makers worldwide.

AHA!: Makers have values and they want me to share them!

Grade Level: 6-8

Key Question #4: What values, lifestyles and points of view are represented in or omitted from this message?

Core Concept #4: Media have embedded values and points of view.

Key Question #5: Why is this message being sent?

Core Concept #5: Most media messages are created for profit and/or power.

Materials: Computer with high speed internet access, data projector, projection screen Crappy Robot Competition Video  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOi-pvVQokk. Printouts of “What is Hekobon?” (sic) PDF

Activity: Start by asking the students to describe their image of someone who makes robots—a roboticist. What education would they have? How old would they be? How smart would they have to be? Do the students think they could be roboticists? Why or why not?

Then, view the video with students. There will probably be a lot of laughing as the crappy robots fight each other and fail. Ask the students if this video matches up with their idea of a roboticist from earlier. It probably doesn’t. However, this silly idea has become very popular in the Maker community and now Hebocons are held all over the world. Why? What is so appealing about Hebocon? Those elements tell us about what the Maker community values.

Next, hand out the “What is Hekobon?” (sic) PDF listed above [ii]. Let the students know it has been translated from Japanese by Google Translate—i.e. It’s a crappy translation like the crappy robots.

Have the students break into 3 groups, one for each section of “What is Hebocon?”: 1. “Heavy,”/“First, Heavy Robot”/“Second, Heavy Creator;” 2. “Can I make a robot without technology?”/”Hebocon for everyone;” and 3. “Knowledge of the Hebocon.”

Ask each group to answer Key Question #4 for their group’s section.

Rejoin and have each group report the values they discovered. Once there is a consensus, have them apply Core Concept #5: “Most media messages are created for profit and/or power.” Since no one makes money off of Hebocon, what kind of “power” might its creators and organizers be seeking? If they reach the conclusion “the power to spread their values to be shared by others,” ask the students which of their own values they would want the power to spread, and how they might go about doing so.

Extended Activity: Have the students plan and promote a Hebocon for their class or school. When producing their rules and promotional materials, direct the students’ attention to Key Question #5 for producers, “Have I communicated my purpose effectively?” 

This MediaLit Moment was created by Mya Stark, Executive Director, LA Maker Space, http://lamakerspace.org


[1] Gui Cavalcanti, “Is it a Hackerspace, Makerspace, TechShop, or FabLab?,” MAKE: (blog), Maker Media Inc., May 22, 2013, http://makezine.com/2013/05/22/the-difference-between-hackerspaces-makerspaces-techshops-and-fablab[1] ヘボコンマスター 石川 大樹, “ヘボコンとは?,” @nifty (portal), NIFTY Corporation, accessed May 11, 2017, http://portal.nifty.com/hebocon/whats.htm.   

The Five Core Concepts and Five Key Questions of media literacy were developed as part of the Center for Media Literacy’s MediaLit Kit™ and Questions/TIPS (Q/TIPS)™ framework.  Used with permission, © 2002-2017, Center for Media Literacy, http://www.medialit.com 


Last Updated ( Thursday, 01 June 2017 08:35 )
 

A Link to Confusion

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In the “olden days,” people primarily relied upon newspapers for their news, and the papers were clearly labeled by section -- “News” “Features” “Opinion.”  Through everyday use, newspapers trained their readers to expect the international and national news on the front page, and state and local news in following pages, and to flip through the pages for articles about local heroes or topics of interest like Home and Garden, Sports, or their favorite columnists and Editorials. Today, such labels are abandoned when articles are lifted as links and shared via social media, or when people check YouTube for the latest news, or when people accept their friends’ postings as “news.”  When you read your news on Facebook (and many people do!) you are not alerted to the genre of the story, and it’s often hard to tell which category the story may fit. Especially difficult is distinguishing news reports from opinion pieces. 

Ask students to illustrate their understanding of the difference between an editorial and “hard” news.

AHA! Authors or producers generate stories with a purpose and an audience in mind.

Grade Level: 7-9

Key Question #1: Who created this message?

Core Concept #1: All media messages are constructed.

Key Question #3: How might different people understand this message differently?

Core Concept #3: Different people understand the same media message differently.

Key Question #5: Why is this message being sent?

Core Concept #5: Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power.

Materials: Links to articles/YouTube videos in various genres for projection in front of the class.

Activity: If computers are available, break students into small groups and give them a specific story to research online. Ask them to find examples of a news report and an opinion piece on the same story. Or, do this as a class using a projector.  Use the Key Questions, and Definitions (provided below).

Ideas for research topics: 2017 Super Bowl, 2017 Oscars, Kim Kardashian jewelry theft, Bob Dylan Nobel Prize.  All of these topics have news reports as well as columns and op-eds that circulated widely on Facebook. For starters, check NPR for news reports, and Entertainment or Sports web sites for columns and opinion. Can your students identify the differences?  Do they or their friends mis-take opinion for news? Why is it important? What will they do differently?  

Definitions:

News – news reports are meant to be factual, verifiable accounts of an event. They are descriptive reports that rely on interviews with knowledgeable people and outside sources. News articles by professional journalists are assumed to be researched and fact-checked. “Hard” news is typically time-sensitive, judged by editors to be the most recent and important events and happenings of interest to readers, viewers or users.

Op-Ed – this is an opinion piece (editorial) written by someone with a distinct point of view. An Op-ed reflects the opinion and bias of the author (i.e. politics, sports…) and is not subjected to the same scrutiny for accuracy or for representation of various views in the content.

Columnists – a columnist is hired to write personalized editorials on a regular basis. They develop a following by expressing their opinions in their own unique style. 

Feature – features are human-interest stories that are not time-sensitive “hard” news. A Feature is an in-depth story of a person or event typically written to educate or entertain, to attract an audience.

The Five Core Concepts and Five Key Questions of media literacy were developed as part of the Center for Media Literacy’s MediaLit Kit™ and Questions/TIPS (Q/TIPS)™ framework.  Used with permission, © 2002-2017, Center for Media Literacy, http://www.medialit.com

Last Updated ( Friday, 19 May 2017 11:04 )
 

Sports Extravaganza

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Sporting events have become media extravaganzas providing a mediated experience to home viewers. What we see on TV is a highly choreographed block of time in which a game is played. There are commercial breaks, game-play graphics, close-ups and audio of coaches and players, with running commentary about every aspect of the game. What we experience via TV is vastly different from the experience of the fans in the stadium. Fans in the stadium are also treated to a media extravaganza with kiss-cams and music videos but it’s a different “show.” Stadium fans see live half-time shows and hear the crowd roar, but they also patiently wait for action to resume after commercial breaks, and they pay large sums of money for seats that sometimes require binoculars to see the action on the field.

Ask students to compare and contrast their experiences as sports fans.

AHA! Watching my favorite team on TV is way different than going to the game. 

Grade Level: 7-9

Key Question#2: What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?
Core Concept #2: Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules.
Key Question #5: Why is this message being sent?
Core Concept #5: Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power.

Materials: Access to article below

Activity: Ask your students if they saw any of the “big” games this year for baseball, football, basketball...Did they attend in person or watch on TV? What do they like about being in the stadium at the event? What do they like about watching on TV? Do they like or dislike the commercial breaks and running commentary? Do they like or dislike the camera coverage and replays available for home viewers? Why are coaches and team owners willing to stop play for commercial breaks? Why are sporting events scheduled to meet the needs of the TV audience?
Hint: Approx. 100 million people watched the Super Bowl in 2017 and saw the commercials. This exposure is worth millions of dollars to advertisers.

Ask your students to read the WSJ article My $170 NCAA Championship Nosebleed. This is an entertaining viewpoint about sitting in the last rows of the stadium and needing binoculars to see the field. Is just being at the event with the energy of the crowd worth it regardless of the seat? Or do your students prefer the media event via TV viewing?

The Five Core Concepts and Five Key Questions of media literacy were developed as part of the Center for Media Literacy’s MediaLit KitTM and Questions/TIPS (Q/TIPS)TM framework. Used with permission, © 2002-2017, Center for Media Literacy, http://www.medialit.com

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 25 April 2017 10:08 )
 

Did you see what I saw?

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We all experience the same events differently and therefore we report on them differently, too. In this exercise, students will observe an event and then discuss their different choices for reporting what happened. In the end, the class will view a videotape of the event to see if their reports stuck to the facts, or if they included personal bias and opinion.

AHA!: There’s a difference between fact and opinion.

Grade Level: 6-9

Key Question #1: Who created this message?

Core Concept #1: All media messages are constructed.

Key Question #3: How might different people understand this message differently? 

Core Concept #3: Different people experience the same media message differently.

Materials:
Cell phone or video camera for filming, and ability to project video onto large screen.

Activity: Before defining fact or opinion, ask three students to participate in a role-play scenario in front of the class. Only the three participants will know what’s happening. One of the participants will quietly film the role-play using a smart phone or video camera. Have one student sit at a desk reading a book with a set of keys on the floor next to his/her chair.  Do not have the student place the keys – the instructor should set the scene before the students arrive at class. Another student will walk in, pick up the keys and continue walking out of the room without any interaction between the two students. That’s it. Stop filming.

The remainder of the students play the role of news reporters. Ask them to spend a few minutes writing a headline and 2 or 3 sentences about what they just observed. Ask several students to share their headlines and text with the class.  Then define fact and opinion:

Fact is something known with certainty that can be objectively verified. A journalist covering a news story is sent out to gather facts – who, what, where, when. The journalist is not meant to add his/her own meaning to the facts but rather to write down or broadcast everything they see in great detail. Facts are descriptive in nature and can be supported by evidence.

Opinion is a belief or conclusion not necessarily substantiated by positive knowledge or proof. This is where the person relaying the story guesses, speculates, or fabricates the details about what happened by interjecting his or her own interpretations or judgments. (Strongly held preconceived opinions are referred to as bias).

Next, show the video just recorded by the student (without commentary), to remind your class of what they actually observed.  Help your students identify where they intermingled their own opinions with the facts. Why did they include opinions? Did anyone write that the keys were lost or stolen? That the individuals were good, bad or misguided? That the student left with the keys to go somewhere specific? Explain how personal bias, past experience, stereotypes, or a desire to sensationalize contribute to the blurring of lines.  Discuss the consequences of presenting opinion as fact. Does it matter? Do you care? Why?

The Five Core Concepts and Five Key Questions of media literacy were developed as part of the Center for Media Literacy’s MediaLit Kit™ and Questions/TIPS (Q/TIPS)™ framework. Used with permission, ©2002-2017.

Last Updated ( Friday, 31 March 2017 11:13 )
 

Media Literacy in Action

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At the Los Angeles Memorial Gathering for Elizabeth (Liz) Thoman, CML’s Founder, on February 12, 2017, Jeff Share, from the Faculty of Education at UCLA, passed out “feminist money” and told a story about how Liz used this money in a way that exemplifies media literacy in action, living out the Empowerment Spiral of Awareness, Analysis, Reflection and Action.  Liz took the “money” (see page 12 February newsletter) when she attended church services and if she observed that the pastor used sexist language or that there was discrimination against women evidenced in the service, she would fill in the amount of a donation, and place it in the collection basket, then she would make the donation in real money to the Women’s Ordination Conference, instead.  After the service, Liz would approach the pastor, introduce herself, and inform the pastor that she had placed a special note in his collection plate.

Have your students create their own currency.

AHA!: I can value my own beliefs and create my own “currency."

Grade Level: 10-12

Key Question #5 (Consumers):  Why is this message being sent?

Key Question #5 (Producers):   Have I communicated my purpose effectively?

Core Concept #5: Most media messages are created for profit and/or power.

Key Question #4 (Consumers):  What values, lifestyles and points of view are represented in, or omitted from this message?

Key Question #4 (Producers):  Have I clearly and consistently framed values, lifestyles and points of view in my content?

Core Concept #4: Media have embedded values and points of view.

Materials: “Feminist Money” and “My Own Currency” template found on page 12 of February newsletter.

Activity: Break students into pairs.  Hand out examples of the “feminist” currency for each pair of students to examine.  Have students discuss Key Questions #5 and #4 for Consumers, and then share their observations.  Next, hand out the templates for each student to create his/her own “money.”  What would they choose to feature on their money?  Why?  Have students answer Key Questions #5 and #4 for Producers, and then share their perspective with the class.


*All Tributes to Elizabeth Thoman, including the one referenced here, are available on CML’s YouTube channel.

The Five Core Concepts and Five Key Questions of media literacy were developed as part of the Center for Media Literacy’s MediaLit Kit™ and Questions/TIPS (Q/TIPS)™ framework. Used with permission, ©2002-2017, Center for Media Literacy, www.medialit.com.

Last Updated ( Friday, 31 March 2017 11:13 )
 
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 21st century skills
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 a year in review 2014
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 advertising consumer debt and media literacy
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 children and media literacy part 2
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 systems thinking and media literacy
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 the mediated city and the public
 the role of journalism in society
 us department of education
 voices of media literacy
 what media literacy is and is not
 whats in a name
 where are we now institutionalizing media literacy

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