Monday, August 16, 2010

viz. A Blog for Media Literacy Pedagogy

via viz

While doing an image search for an unrelated project, I came across this informative blog, vis. Visual Rhetoric, Visual Culture, Pedagogy, from the University of Texas. As the subtitle explains, this blog has a nicely arranged series of posts related to a curriculum I usually refer to as media literacy on my blog. Namely, this curriculum focuses on the creative techniques advertisers, governments, or any other creators of propaganda use to inform or persuade an intended audience.

Granted, at first glance, some of the content found on the viz website might seem "too philosophical" for elementary and secondary social studies students; however, the concepts presented in several of the its posts provide a helpful structure for any social studies curriculum.

Here's what I mean:

In the secondary social studies classroom, media literacy pedagogy usually makes a brief, yet underdeveloped and unconnected, appearance during a unit on World War II. I've seen what feels like countless lessons on WWII Propaganda Posters. The usual routine is to show students a series of posters and to point out how countries dehumanized the enemy. In other cases, this lesson amounts to little more than an interesting slide show intended to "break up" the usual lecture routine. Such a poster activity is no doubt a great way to introduce students to visual culture, but these activities usually lack a coherent connection to the rest of the curriculum or the students' everyday lives, for that matter. For example, consider the possibility that some of the techniques (e.g., guilt, peer pressure) governments used for WWII propaganda posters are also found in a commercial for a candy bar.

via viz

An example of pedagogy related to WWII posters on the the viz website is under the "assignments" section with a lesson titled "Visual Rhetoric and Violence." There is also a great series of related posts tagged "Propaganda." The central message throughout these posts and assignments is an emphasis on comparing "arguments, strategies/appeals, and effectiveness." Another website/resource that can guide the "strategies" question is "It's No Laughing Matter" from the Library of Congress. (See previous post for more detail.)

Anyway... I just found the viz site, so I have some more exploring to do to see what I can use for my methods course.

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