Students Need More Than Excel to Excel: The Case for Media Literacy Course Requirements


As we begin the 2021-22 school year, DePaul’s students are once again entering and exiting classrooms and re-acclimating to in-person classes. But even if we make this transition together, it would do us good to think more critically about the world we lived in during the last year of the pandemic – the world of digital media.

Digital media has become ubiquitous in our academic and private lives across the globe, and it is high time for the modern academic curriculum to help all students make sense of the digital path they have forged.

Here at DePaul, all students are required to take at least one Liberal Studies Program (LSP) course in Using Computers in Quantitative Analysis through Microsoft and IBM tools, and for most students it s ‘is two courses. In addition to these important general education courses, it would be prudent for the university to add an introductory digital media course to the LSP program as a requirement for all students.

No matter what we all choose to study, we are all impacted by digital multimedia messaging every day. The consequences of not understanding the impact of digital media on our lives, as well as the structure and incentives in connected industries, could be disastrous for all of us.

Luke Kirkpatrick, a graduate of DePaul University, had to take classes on this topic as a political science student. Taking courses such as “Mass Media and American Politics” and “Internet, Technology and Politics,” Kirkpatrick explained how what he learned could benefit DePaul’s entire student body.

“The most important thing is that neither of the two courts was cynical in their approach,” Kirkpatrick said. “I notice people get anti-journalism when they have a problem with the way the news structures a story, but there’s a much more nuanced perspective you can have if you understand the full significance of it.”

Kirkpatrick also explained how these classes force students out of their media echo chambers, which it becomes easier to fall into as the media takes a more prominent place in our lives.

“Classes take you out of your bubble,” Kirkpatrick said. “You can see how different forms of media deliver the same stories. They help you understand how media companies structure information, establish agendas, and direct viewers to certain information.

Even before the pandemic, Americans consumed incredible amounts of media in their daily lives. But with the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, that time has only grown longer. Whether it was for the purpose of following national politics or the Kardashians, we all had no choice but to dive deeper into an already saturated media environment in order to find respite from the chaotic world around us.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans between the ages of 15 and 24 have spent the most of the time overall use a computer for leisure compared to their older counterparts at an average of 1.9 hours per day, up 30 minutes on average from 2019.

In addition, Americans as a whole spent an average of 3.1 hours per day watching television, up 19 minutes on average from 2019. These two figures combined represent a total of 5 hours spent consuming media. , and they each represent only the center of their respective bell curves, indicating that there were several million Americans who spent even more time using various forms of digital media during the pandemic.

This is something that is important for all Americans to consider and take into account, but it is most important for young Americans. The generation currently studying on DePaul’s campus and at universities nationwide are the first to be able to think of themselves as digital natives. The vast majority of them grew up interacting with computers and smartphones on a daily basis – not only as a working tool as previous generations had done – but also as the foundation of their social and private lives.

Jason Martin, chair of DePaul University’s journalism program, explained that this makes media literacy classes more essential than ever.

“People today have more and more consistent access to digital media that didn’t exist 20 or even 10 years ago,” Martin wrote in an email to The DePaulia. “They can educate themselves on topics and share their opinions widely, which has advantages. But it also comes with risks – the inability to determine reliable and accurate sources of information and the potential to be exposed to misinformation and disinformation. Giving people the tools to make sense of the world around them is essential and a key part of any university’s mission.

A investigation The Pew Research Center also found that more than half of Gen Z consumers see social media as their preferred way to get information. This raises the question of how much the format of the news consumed affects consumer perceptions, one of the many concerns that could be addressed and discussed in a college-level media literacy course.

Although Gen Z know the internet intuitively, having grown up surrounded by it, there seems to be little talk about how it has drastically changed their entire lives and the incentives that online media organizations and websites have. social media have to take their time. and attention.

There is nothing inherently good or bad about any of this – that remains to be seen. But when you consider that a vast majority of the digital media sphere is fueled by targeted advertising and the massive sale of personal data (Global Industry Analysts Inc. estimates that the big data market was worth $ 130.7 billion in 2020 and will be worth $ 234.6 billion by 2026), it is clear that these incentives should be taken into account by the educated media consumer.

If we want DePaul students to be such media consumers – responsible, educated, and aware – then it is imperative that the university embark on a program that gives its students a sophisticated understanding of the media environment in which they live thanks to the addition of a medium. literacy classes in the Liberal Studies Program.


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