January 2011

Celebrating the Media Literacy Partnership: Our Capstone Event


As our Mediated Comm. Theory “capstone” class (CO419) came to a close, our semester-long CBL project with the kids at Davis Commons was also in its final stage.  We had taken exams and written papers during the semester, but for our final assignment, our job was a presentation of sorts, but not the kind where students stand up in front of the class and try not to read exactly what’s on their power point slides.  Instead, we were responsible for coordinating an on-campus capstone event so that we could present Stonehill College and college life in general to the Davis Commons kids, in part as a way to celebrate our CBL partnership with them, but also in hopes of instilling in them the very real possibility and the aspiration to one day go to college themselves.


In the weeks leading up to the event, we each had our own responsibilities to complete.  Some CO419 students were in charge of standard event-planning logistics, such as creating invitations, setting up the room, securing donated items for the kids’ “goody bags,” buying food, arranging photography, etc… Other students worked on planning a campus tour that would kick off our event for the Davis Commons youth.  Finally, some students worked on editing our class CBL video so that it could be screened at the event.  Needless to say, there were plenty of tasks to complete before an event such as ours could take place.


When the big day arrived in mid-December, we started off the event by meeting the Davis Commons kids at their bus and taking them on a campus tour lead by some of the students in the class.  They were shown many parts of campus, including where the basketball teams play and where one of our students lives.  We were lucky enough to talk to a few of the Women’s Basketball players as they were having a pre-practice shoot, which the kids seemed very excited about.  A bit later, we headed to a student’s dorm room in the Senior Courts.  The whole walk over the kids had a slew of questions for all the CO419 students that were leading the tour.  This helped them get an even more personal relationship with us as some of the questions were about our time at Stonehill.  They were very excited to see the living quarters of a college student (in all its glory) as the kids talked about who they would be roommates with when they got to college, furthering the idea that the tour makes their desire to go to college even more real.


The tour finished at the boardroom of Alumni Hall, where the second stage of the event was to take place.  Here, the kids were served pizza and beverages, and later cookies and cake.  In the time before and during the meal, the Davis Commons kids were encouraged to interact with us, and reflect on their semester spent learning about media literacy.  After the meal, we screened the video we made with footage throughout our semester at Davis Commons, including interviews with the kids and interactions between the Stonehill and Davis Commons students.  The video was a great way to cap off the semester spent with each other as it encapsulated our weekly visits to Davis Commons and showed the progress made in teaching them about media literacy.  After the video, which of course ended with a blooper real and subsequent laughter, we gave the kids gift bags full of various Stonehill paraphernalia, including t-shirts, pens, and foam fingers which they very much appreciated.  We talked some more with the students about the video and their overall experience, then said our goodbyes.


The event, which consisted of the campus tour, dinner and a film screening, was a perfect way to wrap up our Mediated Communication Theory class and our Community Based Learning experience with the kids from Davis Commons.  After spending the entire semester at Davis Commons and getting to know the youth in their after-school program environment, it was great to have them gain a sense of what our life is like at Stonehill.  In addition, screening our class video as part of the event gave our class a sense of fulfillment as we worked very hard all semester to capture our teaching experiences and interactions with the Davis Commons kids on video to create a  “How to teach Media Literacy” video.  It was especially great to see the progress in the kids’ understanding and grasp of media literacy, since that was, after all, the main goal of our CBL work.  The video also reminded the Davis Commons kids of all that they learned through our CBL partnership, and coupled with the tour we hope that they were able to gain an overarching sense of fulfillment for the work they had done so far, as well as an even more significant sense of hope, determination, and realization that college is a realistic ambition worth striving for.  Overall, our event was successful and enjoyable, and more importantly, it served as a true capstone experience for all involved.


Happy New Year! Enjoy a new entry on Media Literacy from the latest student perspective from Professor Paradise’s class!


Creating a Video to Capture our Media Literacy/CBL Experience

As part of our Mediated Communication Theory (CO419) class, we were required to capture footage all semester long of our media literacy sessions at the Davis Commons After-School Program so that ultimately we could create a class video documenting our CBL experiences.  The video component of our course had several purposes—it documented our work at Davis Commons, it generated interest among the kids at Davis Commons (as they loved seeing and learning about the video camera and production process), it allowed us to showcase our creative talents in a hands-on manner, and finally, we hoped that the video could be of potential use to others on campus (or off) who wanted to learn more about media literacy and/or community-based learning.  At the very end of the semester, we unveiled our video to the youth of Davis Commons during an on-campus capstone event coordinated by our class.

To create this video, we first had to decide how to best “tell a story” using dozens of hours of footage from our media literacy visits.  Before starting the video the class took some time to brainstorm ideas for the video.  We talked about what we wanted the video to cover and the story we wanted to share.  Ultimately, we decided to put together an informational/ educational video that would help future professors and college students to gain a better understanding of media literacy and community-based learning (CBL).

Once we had settled on a concept for our video, we began making an outline of how we wanted the video to be structured.  It was definitely good to create an initial outline because it got us thinking about what clips we could use from our filmed sessions at Davis commons as well as additional material that we would need to film outside of class.  There were several messages we wanted to convey in our video.  First, we wanted our video to reflect the need for media literacy education, especially because the media is so prevalent in kids’ lives today.  Second, we wanted to discuss the role of community-based learning (CBL) and how we used this approach to teach media literacy education in an after-school program setting. Third, we also wanted to talk about the logistics of establishing a media literacy program such as ours (e.g., class size, scheduling, how to “teach” media literacy, appropriate topics to discuss with the youth, etc…).  Finally, we wanted our video to convey the benefits of media literacy and community-based learning.

Beyond conveying these messages, we also wanted our video to reflect the various media literacy lesson plans and activities that we facilitated at Davis Commons during the semester.  To do this, we incorporated footage of different lesson plans into our video.  We taped members of our class reflecting on and describing successful lesson plans that we had facilitated during the semester.  We also taped footage of students from our class discussing the various theories we learned about in the classroom and applying these theories to our experiences with the children at Davis Commons.  Our video also discussed the issue of assessment by having some of the students talk about how to gage whether or not the Davis Commons children actually learned from the lesson plans we developed.  Then we had each student in our class talk about the benefits of media literacy and CBL—including the perceived benefits gained by the youth at Davis Commons as well as the benefits derived by members of our class. Finally, to end the video, we included footage of Professor Paradise talking about how she could help other professors implement the same type of media literacy program and how they could get into contact with her.

Ultimately, the goal of our video was to send the message that it is possible to effectively bridge media literacy and community-based learning.  The video provides a lot of valuable information and serves as a starting point for professors, college students, teachers, or after-school programs interested in establishing a media literacy/CBL partnership.  To implement and maintain a media literacy program like ours requires a lot of work, but we hope that our video can help others in this process.  In addition, as Communication majors, we believe that it is really important to provide young people with media literacy training; we hope that our video reflects this need and provides concrete ways in which to implement a media literacy program using a community-based learning approach.  For more information about our class video, or to obtain a copy, please contact our professor, Angela Paradise, at aparadise@stonehill.edu.