Making a Case for 21st Century Media Education Today

Written by, Amanda Jane Hofstetter

Author, Henry Jenkins, et. al., makes a strong case for media education for our school aged children in the publication, Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. Although written before 2007, Jenkins provides great evidence that it is imperative to educate children today in Web 2.0 and to assist them in furthering their computer and new media skills. It is a necessity to incorporate computer and new media skills in schools, after school programs and at home.

Games seem to help many children with obtaining new media skills such as the other world game, Sim City. Children who play these games are navigating in a new, virtual world. These worlds help the children learn citizenship and governmental leadership. While I will agree with the thought that virtual worlds are helpful in that the children are learning new skills, how can we be sure they are learning the right skills for today?

Something I am concerned about is the fact that these worlds may be fun, there are still imaginary and where is the transparency? Who is on the other side of the screen in chats and facilitating the game to begin with. Which brings up a point that I would also like to discuss. What is their agenda and how are children being programed? Where are the questions that need to be asked about the person on the other end? These are skills that also need to be integrated into a child’s education. Just because you are told to do something, doesn’t mean you always should and you need to decide how to question authority.

The publication brought to light a great thought that directly relates to the inability of children to question others including authority. At one time, we needed farmers and schools were cultivating farmers. However, times have changed and we now need a more complex and complete education that includes the necessary addition of new media in the classroom. Children need to be taught the tools of questioning all things, but especially where they are getting their information. Assessment of information quality is imperative.

Another question that came to mind while reading this lengthy publication was the question of, what exactly we are teaching our children regarding new media in the 21st century? Are we already out of date? I know that when this publication was complete it was already outdated.

How, can we ensure that children are getting the educational integration in our classrooms today? If teachers have a hard time with technology, then were does that leave our children? I agree with Jenkins that, children today need free-form experimentation and open-ended speculation. What can we do as a society to make this happen?

The issue of incorporating timely, up-to-date work is imperative for productive and well skilled future citizens. If the children of today are going to be taking care of us in our “tomorrow” then don’t you think that we all need to do something to encourage change? I know I do! So what would you do to make sure that all children are learning the skills to become happy, productive new citizens?

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