When Video is Made Uncritically

I heard Marc Prensky talk at our school yesterday. The were parts I agreed with and parts I disagreed with (and multiple teachers found it bizarre and ironic his Powerpoint seemed very 90s when he was attempting to present THE FUTURE) but I want to focus on a comment that really bugged me.

He said that as teachers we don’t need to know anything about podcasting, video, etc. because the students can teach us.

In part of his presentation he showed a middle school’s video on “Frankenfood”, I believe intending it to be an exemplar, but —

The video was very manipulative, essentially a shockumentary. (I don’t necessarily disagree with the content, I am simply referring to the quality of the media itself.) The English essay version of the same would be like having all topic sentences with no supporting evidence. If video really is the new text (as Marc Prensky claimed) shouldn’t we be demanding the same quality as we do from writing (not necessarily technically, but at least in the sense of framing an argument)?

(I can’t find the video online anywhere, otherwise this would be the point I’d link.)

Dan Meyer has recently written about this issue. Really boggled me when it popped up in the middle of the talk.

I was able to address my concern to Mr. Prensky directly in the question-and-answer period. He mainly reiterated his prior points but conceded a value to teachers knowing media criticism. I got the impression he was thinking. I suppose that’s as good as I can hope for.


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