We’re in an age of information overload, and too much of what we watch, hear and read is mistaken, deceitful or even dangerous. Yet you and I can take control and make media serve us — all of us — by being active consumers and participants. Here’s how.
Those are the first lines of the video that introduces our upcoming ASU-edX MOOC, called “MediaLIT: Overcoming Information Overload.” They are the course’s guideposts.
We knew there would be no shortage of material. In a digital age, we’re saturated in media, and a lot of it is junk. (Or, to use guest lecturer Howard Rheingold‘s framing, a lot of information is outright crap.)
We’ve done a lot of thinking about how best to present this to a wide audience, beyond the university students who have been studying the topic in my regular class at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication. One way is to make this as up-to-date as we possibly can, in the readings and discussions. If you join us for the course, we’ll be looking at some very current events that illustrate key points.
Another way, and one of (I think) our best decisions early on, is to move this way beyond the standard lecture-readings-quiz format. How? By asking some experts in the media and media-literacy fields to talk with us–and people taking the course–about what they know.
Plenty, as you’ll see if you sign up. Here’s a taste–snippets from the videos we’ll be using in the course–of their wisdom. Such as Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales:
and Margaret Sullivan, public editor (ombudsman) at the New York Times:
and Lawrence Krauss, an ASU colleague who’s one of America’s best known scientists:
and Amanda Palmer, a brilliant musician and Internet innovator:
You get the idea.
These folks are among many who were kind enough to discuss how various kinds of media work (and don’t); the vital role of journalism in our world; how we as consumers of media need to handle the deluge of information; and much more.
I’ve been saying “we” a lot in this post. It’s the only word that fits, because I’ve been working with an amazing team from ASU Online’s EdPlus and edX. CNN’s Brian Stelter (one of our guests) recently told me, speaking of his move from newspapers (the New York Times) to television, that the latter is “a team sport.” So, I can assure you, is a MOOC. This wouldn’t be happening without other people’s time, talent and effort.
We’re well aware that the jury is out on whether MOOCs are going to be a major way people learn in the future. Of course they won’t replace traditional education, I’m optimistic that they will be at least helpful, if not transformative in some ways. We all see this project as an experiment that we hope will move the genre forward.
Most of all, however, we envision this MOOC as useful–for you. While putting it together has been (shhh) a lot of fun in addition to hard work, the point of it all is to bring media and news literacy to a wider community. That’s certainly a goal of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, which has provided funding to help us build and market the course.
I use the word “community” deliberately, because I don’t see the people who sign up for this course solely as students or members of an audience. We want you to be participants, in this project but especially in the use of media in your lives. We hope we’ll be helpful along the way.