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Challenges of a Participatory Culture September 28, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Anita DeCianni-Brown @ 3:01 pm
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Marshall McLuhan, a media guru far before his time, talks about The Global Village, long before the days of social media platforms.  The global village took the literary man as an individual and brought us into a tribal group.  He talks about this, and at the time, the electronic devices he was referring to were stationary telephones, radio and televisions.  As a society, we moved from interacting as individuals, obtaining our knowledge through books, to being members of a tribe – a global village of interaction.  From the 1960’s when he shared his view until now, we have seen many changes in the way individuals interact.  We now have mobile devices that can alert us the minute triumph or tragedy happens, no matter where we are.  Even when the electronic age he referred to started growing, there was no way to prepare for the all out openness we are experiencing now.  Through new technologies, we can connect two classrooms from half way around the world with each other to share a common lesson through the use of smart boards and the internet.  But attention needs to be paid to the use of the technologies and media.




Jenkins discusses the need to teach media literacy, and the challenges that are faced in order to do so.  The first is the Participation Gap.  Access to internet is one thing, access to internet with the capability of being able to do the work that is necessary for schooling is another.  I conducted an interview at the beginning of the year for another course to find out about the development of courses and instructional design.  One of the many things that needs to be taken into consideration is the technology which may be affected by the participation gap. (p. 13)  


The second challenge, Transparency Problem is one that I should not be surprised with, yet do find surprising.  In Shier’s study (2005) a game was developed based on historic interpretation of the first shot of the American Revolution.  Students took the representation of historical evidence in the game as being authentic.  (p. 16)  The concern lies in the ability of young people to be able to assess the quality of information received.  I had an exchange with a friend today on Facebook on this story:


When I initially commented of the fakeness of the story, responses came back with stories less and less believable than this initial posting.  But because it was on the internet, and shared by several people, then it must be truth. 


The third concern, Ethics Challenge, is an issue where young people creating new modes of expression that are poorly understood by adults.  He also points out the implications of their media and communications practices.  Most notably that the information that is shared maybe initially just for friends and followers can bring unwelcome attention.  (p. 17)  A recent example that comes to mind with me is happening right now in the Capital District.  Over Labor Day weekend, a party was held at a vacated house that is up for sale by a former NFL football player.  Somewhere between 200 – 300 kids illegally entered the home and held a party.  Through a series of Tweets, the teens implicated themselves not only with the text but with visual proof of who was at the party and what was going on.  The ethical norm was non-existent as they not only were breaking and entering, they stole items and did thousands and thousands of dollars worth of damage. 


We have come a long way from the new media that McLuhan referred to, yet we need to be more diligent in not only teaching and understanding the media and the use of them.  Not only do we need to make sure users can understand the operation of the media, but be able to develop critical thinking in regards to determining the validity of what they are reading/viewing.




Jenkins, H.  Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture:  Media Education for the 21st Century


Marshall McLuhan – The World is a Global Village (CBC TV)