Students need more than Excel to excel: the case for the media literacy course requirements
At the start of the 2021-22 school year, DePaul students are shuffling in and out of classrooms again, getting used to personal lessons again. But even if we make this transition together, it would be good for all of us to think more critically about the world in which we lived in the last year of the pandemic – the world of digital media.
Digital media has become ubiquitous in our academic and private lives around the world, and it is high time the modern college curriculum helped all students understand the digital path they are taking.
Here at DePaul, it is a requirement for all students to take at least one Liberal Studies Program (LSP) course on the use of computers in quantitative analysis with Microsoft and IBM tools, and for most students that is two classes. In addition to these important general education courses, it would make sense for the university to include a digital media literacy course in the LSP course as a prerequisite for all students.
No matter what we all want to study, we are all influenced by digital media news every day. Failure to understand the consequences, the impact of digital media on our lives, and the structure and incentives in networked industries could be catastrophic for all of us.
Luke Kirkpatrick, a graduate of DePaul University, had to take courses that investigated this as a political science student. In courses such as “Mass Media and American Politics” and “Internet, Technology and Politics,” Kirkpatrick explained how what he has learned could benefit the entire DePaul student body.
“The most important thing is that none of the courses were cynical,” said Kirkpatrick. “I notice that people become anti-journalists when they have a problem with how the news frames a story, but there is a much more nuanced perspective you can have when you understand the full scope.”
Kirkpatrick also shared how these classes force students to step out of their media echo chambers, which are easier to fall into as media becomes a bigger part of our lives.
“The courses get you out of your bladder,” said Kirkpatrick. “You can see how different media deliver the same stories. They will help you understand how media companies frame information, set agendas and encourage viewers to take in certain information. “
Even before the pandemic, Americans were consuming an incredible amount of media in their daily lives. But with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, that time has only increased. Whether in an effort to keep up with national politics or the Kardashians, we all had no choice but to delve deeper into an already saturated media environment to find a respite from the chaotic world around us.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans aged 15 to 24 spent the most time using a computer for leisure time compared to their older counterparts, averaging 1.9 hours per day, an average of 30 minutes more than in 2019.
In addition, Americans spend an average of 3.1 hours a day in front of TV, an average of 19 minutes more than in 2019. These two numbers alone add up to a total of 5 hours spent consuming media, and they each represent only that Center of their respective bell curves, suggesting that there were many millions of Americans who spent even more time consuming various forms of digital media during the pandemic.
This is important for all Americans to notice and be aware of, but it is most important for young Americans. The generation currently studying on DePaul campus and at universities across the country are the first to call themselves digital natives. The vast majority of them grew up interacting with computers and smartphones on a daily basis – not only as a work tool like earlier generations, but also as the basis of their social and private life.
Jason Martin, chairman of DePaul University’s journalism program, said media literacy courses are more important than ever.
“People today have greater and more constant access to digital media that didn’t exist 20 or even 10 years ago,” Martin wrote in an email to The DePaulia. “They can find out more about topics and express their opinions broadly, which also has advantages. But it also carries risks – the inability to determine reliable and accurate sources of information, and the possibility of exposure to misinformation and disinformation. Empowering people with the tools to understand the world around them is vital and an integral part of any university’s mission. “
A poll by the Pew Research Center also found that over half of Generation Z consumers rated social media as their preferred way to get the news. This begs the question of the extent to which the format of the messages consumed affects the perception of consumers.
Although Generation Z knows the internet intuitively as they grew up with it, there seems to be little discourse about how it has drastically changed their entire lives and about the incentives that online media organizations and social media websites are taking up their time need to take and attention.
There is nothing inherently good or bad about any of this – that remains to be seen. But when you consider that the vast majority of the digital media world is driven by targeted advertising and mass sales of personal data (Global Industry Analysts Inc. estimates that the big data market was worth $ 130.7 billion in 2020 and up by 2026) it is clear that these incentives should be heeded by educated media consumers.
If we want DePaul students to be such media consumers – responsible, educated, and conscious – then it is imperative that the university commit to a curriculum that gives its students a nuanced understanding of the media environment in which they live by Add additional media literacy class to the Liberal Studies Program.