Category Archives: visual literacy

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Hostage Marketing and Education

Two recent items for the furstration file. One for me, one for a close friend.

Upon receiving my new bankcard from BankAmerica, I called the activation number. After entering the proper codes they blast an advertisement about their identity theft program. They make me wait for my confirmation number until this ad plays out. Then I press “No” for the I.D. theft sign-up. Then they play the entire ad again. I press ‘NO’ a second time. Then before they finally let me go, they give me another shot at signing up. This makes me worry that I have to wait until after this ad to REALLY be activated. Hostage marketing! Not interruption, not permission, but hostage marketing. I know we all go through this, but three times?

Another hostage situation: I’ve been advising a friend on his thesis for undergrad degree in communications. His area of study is visual communications. Specifically he has been doing field research on the perceived effectiveness of visual literacy programs in regional elementary schools.

After doing three months of research, he presents his rough to his advisor. The advisor, I’m not making this up, declares herself unqualified to accept the thesis based on her inexperience in this area of study. Visual literacy is not a “communication” topic, said she, but rather an educational topic more appropriate for the educational dept. at the University.

What? Visual communication is not a “communication” topic? That is bad enough, but to “advise” this student for an entire semester, to hold him hostage to her class, and then tell him “no deal”?

It boggles the mind.

Where will the next Spielberg come from?

With films such as Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List, Steven Spielberg opened our eyes to social aspects of conflict and the human struggle that have plagued our society since the dawn of recorded time. Visual communication, in its many forms, helps us learn from our past, appreciate the present and prepare for the future. We can only hope that this tradition of storytelling will continue in future generations. By preparing our children now, we can ensure that visual storytelling will continue to spiritually edify and intellectually inform society. There is only one question left to ask, what is your child doing now to prepare to tell visual tales for the future.?

According to recent surveys, 24% of the 34.3 million child and teen internet users are visiting virtual worlds each month, the numbers of youth passively watching internet content has grown exponentially and is expected to climb even further in the future. This unbelievable amount of youthful Internet traffic can be directed toward learning rather than couch-potato observation. Your child as you well know has a world of stories to tell and with the advancing of technology providing ease of use and your child’s inherent savvy for all that is new, this opportunity of important and relevant expression is more accessible than ever before.

Kid-generated video is a stepping-stone to opening your child to a world of experience, learning and opportunity. It allows them to express themselves in a format that is familiar to them and through uploading this creative material it creates an active scholastic playground for other children their age and the Internet in general. Being able to communicate their world hones the analytical talents of your youngster and allows them to define their experience in realistic terms that will give them necessary social skills, develop their ideas of commitment and increase their awareness of their surroundings.

Many major media provision sites have seen the light of future media generation and distribution and provide an online venue for your child to offer their ideas to others in an informative and palatable format. Companies like Yahoo, Google, and Disney have opened their content doors to facilitate your child’s creative adventure. With popular children’s programs like iCarly, your child has the opportunity to take advantage of online venues to share their ideas with others and start forums of discussion that are both enjoyable and relevant to their lives.

Sensing this growth in expression, companies are also gearing their video equipment for use in a youthful environment, by providing easy operation and durability to allow your child to perform their video exploration with both acumen and safety. The options provided are extensive and this equipment can be sold in packages that allow your child to create, edit and upload their material with built in solutions. This allows your child to concentrate on their creation rather than having to spend frustrating hours in the set-up process.

For instance, Toyquest is at the forefront of kid-generated video equipment with their provision of the product known as the RipRoar Creative Station. This kid-generated video package contains the basics combined with extras that will open a treasure trove of creative possibilities for your child. It includes an easy-to-use camera, tripod, editing and FX software, green screen and a built-in uploading capability that allows your child to automatically submit their material online. It is designed for kids that are 10 and above, providing an avenue of creativity that will allow them to define and express their world and communicate issues that are important to them in a enjoyable environment, turning them from passive viewers into positive contributors. Artistic creation not only will develop their growing mind and soul, but it will also prepare them for entrance into society as active participants who are willing to engage their world for the better.

Are you part of the new illiterate?

We, in america, overlook the fact that we may be illiterate by global communication standards? Have you ever met an adult who’d covered the fact of their own illiteracy for decades? Have you seen the movie Stanley and Iris? DeNiro plays an illierate who’s love interest teaches him how to read. I remember seeing this and thinking, “How did this person get by? Not able to read a newspaper, a government form, or basic directions for product assembly. Not even a bedtime story for the kids?” Check out these statistics. Evidently this is a massive problem.


Yet…people can function in a limited way for years.

I was raised by a reading consultant. I’ve created software programs geared to teach reading, writing and arithmetic. I’ve written over 35 early reading books for k-3 learners. I have a modest clue about literacy. Which is why I think you’ll find the following provocative:

You may be illiterate by today’s globally competitive communication standards. This is not a post about the failing school system, or the lack of parenting involvement in teaching our children to read, or adult literacy, at least in the traditional sense.

Media literacy is the new gold standard of sharing and communicating. It does not replace traditional reading/writing, speaking/listening but according to a survey conducted by the Canada Media Awareness Network 2006 students are downloading television, movies and music, instant messaging, enjoy popular websites like Wikipedia, use webcams, video cameras, digital cameras, and cell phones for communications, and have a larger educational video library in iTunes and on their iPod than most school libraries. This generation of learners is defining what “being literate” is for the rest of us.

Have you thought of video as text? Can you read filmic text? More importantly, can you WRITE in this text? Do you know the language of film? With the camera as pencil, and the home computer editing station/sound studio as paper, can you write so others can understand?

This “literacy” is upon us. Are you Stanley?