In my post about what are the visual arts? I included media studies within the oeuvre of visual arts and write that art is ‘everything, everywhere, all the time’, and we are constantly surrounded by it.
Media is an important part of our lives but is in some ways is invisible to us. It is pervasive – we carry it in our pockets, we communicate with each other through it, we get our news and all our information through it, our calendars, our memories, and now with Artifical Intelligence, it will one day predict our hopes and our dreams (Ruuse 2019). Almost every single experience we have is mediated through a device – computer, tablet, phone, television, gaming console. Weekly at home, children and teenagers spend 10 hours on the internet, 9.4 hours watching TV, and 5.1 hours playing computer games. (Morgan 2020)
How we use media, where and when is constantly changing. In media studies, media is examined as an industry and as a product. It is explored with reference to mass media and investigated in terms of the systems and structures that create it, how this operates and how we engage with it.
“More and more, media use is media activity – passive media consumers are becoming active media producers. In the midst of these developments are children and youth.”(Carlsson et al. 2008 p11)
Where once the media was consumed passively, as we ‘watched’ the news or ‘read’ the paper; now we ‘share’ and ‘like’ and amplify and participate in the media. We actively make the news, help topics trend and even make news ourselves when articles are written about comments on hot topics, where previously this was largely absent except for things like a strongly worded letter to the editor.
Teenagers are in the firing line too, with a recent study by Reset Australia, exposing the ease with which unscrupulous advertisers could target teenagers on Facebook.
“Facebook is accused of harvesting the data of teenagers and on-selling it to advertisers for targeted alcohol, gambling, vaping and dating ads”(Duffy 2021)
In an increasingly sophisticated media landscape, understanding media and digital literacy is vitally important. In a survey conducted in 2021, there was significant insecurity of Australian adults in navigating online, with 51% indicating they were only slightly or somewhat confident of knowing if a website were true and that it can be trusted. Not surprisingly 81% of respondents “said children should receive media literacy education in school” (Dezuanni et al. 2021). However, the prevalence of media studies at school was extremely low:
“we found schools are not currently fulfilling this need. Only 14% of adults said they had received media literacy support in primary school, 22% received support in secondary schools and 25% received support via tertiary education.”(Dezuanni et al. 2021)
While there is the investigation of the media as an industry, such as ‘mass media’, there is also the development of key skills, understanding how to ‘read’ films and television and deconstruct them.
As media arts is a key part of the Victorian arts curriculum, it includes similar making and responding inclusions and:
“Students learn as artist and audience
Students learn through making and responding”(VCAA)
These two parts work together to deepen insight and understanding of media and arts.
Media arts and the technology that is used to create it, is ever changing. Having completed a Masters Degree in Creative Media in 2007, technology and workflows have evolved and in some cases completely changed.
My exegesis revolved around the use of new media as a tool to communicate and tell stories. I specialised in animation, and have taught for a decade and a half in higher education in interactive digital media, games, communication design, and art. This teaching has always included the teaching of media concepts, my technical skills in this area vastly useful in jobs as an assistant, a designer, and most importantly of all, as a teacher. Digital literacy and the subject of media, it’s interrogation of global, social and local issues and it’s use of digital media technologies, make it a perfect subject to ensure students are able to engage with the complexity of contemporary life, to participate actively in being a citizen, and to use media effectively as practitioner and audience through digital literacy skills. The hybridity of media is boundless, and extends through all subjects, indeed it is true that:
“the responsibility for being media literate should no longer be simply left for people to work out for themselves.”(Dezuanni et al. 2021)
Although there are significant inclusions in the curriculum for incorporating ICT, media arts offers more depth and scope. It is clear that we need greater media literacy to help ensure that future generations can more readily and consciously engage with media as audience and practitioner, and participate in the world. As such, we would all be served better if media was a core study in the curriculum throughout high school.
Carlsson, U, Tayie, S, Jacquinot-Delaunay, G & Tornero, JMP (eds) 2008, Empowerment through media education : an intercultural dialogue, International Clearinghouse on Children, Youth And Media, Nordicom, Göteborg University and Unesco, Göteborg.
Dezuanni, M, Chambers, S, Park, S & Notley, T 2021, “Less than half of Australian adults know how to identify misinformation online,” The Conversation, retrieved from <https://theconversation.com/less-than-half-of-australian-adults-know-how-to-identify-misinformation-online-156124>.
Duffy, C 2021, “Facebook harvests teenagers’ data and on-sells it to advertisers for targeted alcohol, vaping ads, report finds,” www.abc.net.au, retrieved May 6, 2021, from <https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-04-28/facebook-instagram-teenager-tageted-advertising-alcohol-vaping/100097590>.
Morgan, R 2020, “Even before COVID-19, Young Australians were spending more time on the internet at home than watching TV or playing/talking to friends,” Roy Morgan, retrieved May 6, 2021, from <http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/8397-young-australians-time-spent-activities-may-2020-202005040517>.
Ruuse, L 2019, “Artificial Intelligence: Mind-Boggling Future Predictions in 2019,” Scoro, retrieved May 6, 2021, from <https://www.scoro.com/blog/artificial-intelligence-predictions/>.
VCAA “Media Arts – Learning in Media Arts – Victorian Curriculum,” victoriancurriculum.vcaa.vic.edu.au, retrieved from <https://victoriancurriculum.vcaa.vic.edu.au/the-arts/media-arts/introduction/learning-in-media-arts> 30th April 2021