As the founding partner of Educational Web Adventures (Eduweb), Dave Schaller is responsible for the overall creative direction of the company and the perpetual quest for the sweet spot where learning theory, Web technology, and fun meet. Since the mid-1990s, he has had a hand in all aspects of Web development, from HTML coding to interactivity design to user testing. Recent Eduweb projects that particularly bear his touch are The Renaissance Connection, Black Holes, and U-505 On-line Activities. Currently he is also Principal Investigator of a National Science Foundation-funded study into children's learning styles and online interactives. He holds an M.A. in Geography and Museum Studies from the University of Minnesota and a B.A. in Humanities from Macalester College.
My Pop Studio: An Online Media Literacy Learning Experience for Girls
We are currently in the process of creating My Pop Studio, an online learning environment for girls aged 9 – 14 designed to strengthen media literacy skills and support positive youth development.
My Pop Studio is an online learning environment where girls can strengthen media literacy skills and participate in a creative community. Girls have various opportunities to take on the role of author in constructing media messages--in creating popular music, a television program, and a magazine. In the game, girls get a chance to design their own pop star and compose a song for her to perform. They learn about the values messages in music and experiment with how music is constructed in a music studio. Girls get to edit a reality TV show, discovering how sequences of dialogue and images can be used to tell a wide range of stories, depending on your purpose and goals. Girls can compose a 4-page magazine spread, reflecting on the ways in which images, ideas, fashion and celebrities combine with advertising to affect people’s emotional responses and the perceptions of social norms. Funded by the Office of Women’s Health (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), this online learning experience introduces some aspects of healthy decision-making concerning nutrition, body image, social relationships, and mental health.
We’ve tried to embed opportunities for girls to strengthen some media literacy skills as they interact in the creative play space of My Pop Studio. As they engage with the creative interactive activities, girls will:
Media literacy has grown widely during the 1990s primarily as the result of the standards movement in K-12 education and there is widespread interest in making education more relevant to students’ lived experience. Media literacy teaches a form of critical thinking and viewing that enables individual viewers and listeners to better understand, evaluate and interpret media messages (Tyner, 1998). Practitioners of media literacy education assume that learners must actively negotiate the meaning of media messages and that by making their own media messages, students can learn to question and challenge the assertions and assumptions of the media messages that are part of their everyday life (Buckingham, 2003). Still, there are few opportunities for young people to gain media literacy skills online.
We are seeking feedback from participants in the Games, Learning and Society Conference about the extent to which our creative play interactive activity aligns with our objectives to introduce media literacy to girls. In using the various activities, we expect that girls will understand how music, television and magazines are constructed and how messages are designed to maximize their ability to both entertain and persuade. We want girls to gain more understanding of the economic context of advertising and the ideologies and value messages expressed in entertainment media. Feedback from participants at the Games, Learning and Society Conference will be a valuable dimension of our own learning experience as producers.
During this Chat 'n' Frag, we will first give conference participants time to use the website and explore the various activities. Then, with participants in a small-group discussion, we will explore the following topics, including:
With participants, we will share ideas about evaluation and present a model we’re developing for thinking about how to evaluate the learning outcomes of My Pop Studio. We’re also interested in discussing the marketing and outreach issues associated with promoting the online learning experience, especially some of the opportunities and challenges in coordinating with both non-profit and for-profit partnerships.
Participants will require: wireless laptops.