Teaching kids through mobile media

Posted by on June 20th, 2011 at 8:06 am

Most educators will tell you, teens have mobile phones, but they cannot make mobile apps. They access Web sites often, but few know how to use HTML code to design their own. In Baltimore, we can address this dearth of media literacy easily, to ensure the city will have its share of well-qualified workers for our burgeoning technology sector. We must turn all of our youth into mobile journalists, or MOJOs. Here is how:

  1. Get the city wired. First, we equip the city with free WIFI—everywhere. Most youth who live in low-income homes access the web via mobile device, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. If Baltimore provided a free WIFI connection, our underserved students would be wired always.
  2. Equip the MOJOs. Next, we need to arm every middle- and high-school student in Baltimore with a fourth-generation iPod. These devices record audio and video, and do not require a monthly telephone plan. The devices also allow access to the Internet, using a WIFI connection. Where would we get the funding for iPods, you ask? Well, remember how Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg gave the entire city of Newark $100 million? We could ask Apple, Inc. CEO Steve Jobs for a tiny favor like that.
  3. Revamp the curriculum. The last step is to develop an online portal, chock full of media literacy lesson plans for teachers. The lesson plans would be aligned with the State of Maryland’s existing information literacy and technology standards, but would allow educators to be imaginative still.

With an iPod in their hands, Baltimore youth would be empowered to engage in digital humanities in ways adults could never imagine. At Morgan State University, where I launched a MOJO Lab this year, students reported all around the city, designed a news web site and created mobile apps.

Molding media-literate youth will require a radical reshaping of our educational system, educator creativity, and a lot of equipment. But if my small class at Morgan State is any indication of how powerful mobile media production can be, then Baltimore should make this investment.


2 thoughts on “Teaching kids through mobile media

  1. What an audacious idea! If this plan were to take effect in the city, the impact it can have on our students and community is tremendous. Not only are we creating a “wired” community, we are building a potential workforce, and building a voices. When we can create the media, we have the potential to reshape the ways in which we are portrayed in the media everyday!

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