The Business Behind The Web

Armed with a deeper sense of self, both online and offline, students will then explore their media consumption and analyze its impact on their view of the world. Traditional media literacy curricula have focused on dissecting messages, both explicit and implicit, in mass media and advertising. But the digital revolution has placed citizens in the publisher’s seat. This shift requires a media literacy curricula that will challenge student to critique production as well as consumption.

Focusing on the businesses driving the social web, Unit 2 will explore what is behind their Facebook newsfeed and Tumblr dashboard. Digital media are an important part of every teenager’s socialization and sense of belonging, “at the same time, the meanings that may be derived by young people may be subtly shaped and limited by consumer culture” (Williamson, 2013, p. 6). Students should understand that there’s no such thing as a “free” app or product online. It is the modern day equivalent of “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” By using these media, as consumers, we are agreeing to give up a lot of privacy and allow marketers to track our behavior. We are agreeing to have our spending habits, worldview, social priorities, and our self concepts markedly influenced for capital gain.

The ability to evaluate the quality and credibility of web content is an essential skill in today’s connected world. As Buckingham (2007) explains, “Rather than seeing the web as a neutral source of ‘information,’ students need to be asking questions about the sources of that information, the interests of its producers and how it represents the world” (p. 113). This unit will explore Internet authorship and copyright and how to determine whether a source is trustworthy or not.

Ultimately, the media literacy unit is designed to “maximize what we value most about the empowering characteristics of media and technology while minimizing its negative dimensions” (Hobbs, 2010, p. xi). In their paper on critical pedagogy in social media literacy, Burnett & Merchant (2011) call for “a movement from what are we doing in social media to a consideration of what might we be doing in social media” and suggests a “practice that is prospective rather than retrospective” (p. 54-55). This prospective approach is the focus of our following unit on social activism in social media.

Download Unit 2 Plan