Prof's Website Aims to Integrate Media in the Classroom

November 01, 2007 - News Release

Canadian Idol roving reporter David Kerr is just one of the media experts who will be chatting online as part of the launch of an interactive website by a University of Guelph professor aimed at helping teachers find innovative ways of integrating media technologies into the classroom.

Mark Lipton is launching in conjunction with Media Awareness Week running Nov. 5 to 9.

This new initiative will provide teachers across Canada with media education resources that can be used to teach students how to think critically when using media as well as how to use the technologies to their fullest potential.

"Media education is a compulsory part of the curriculum, and young people need to apply critical thinking strategies in their daily uses of media," he said. "This digital portal is a tool that helps build bridges between what young people are doing with media and what teachers want them to be doing in the classroom."

As part of a four-year Media Education Project, Lipton has been interviewing teachers over the last year to discover the extent to which media education is being taught in the classroom. He said the purpose of the project is to address the gap between what is provincially required of teachers and what resources are available to them.

Although media education was integrated into the curriculum of grades 9 to 12 more than 20 years ago and a 2006 provincial mandate added it to elementary schools, teachers aren't completely prepared to teach this component, he said.

"Those teachers who are following the requirements are either creating their own programs or downloading programs off the Internet because there are few media education resources available within school boards."

Lipton said previous programs tended to focus on teaching students to "decode" media such as figuring out how advertising is used to manipulate people.

"For a long time, it was mostly about deconstructing magazine ads and television commercials in search of the negative. But students can also use media for creative purposes, producing things that can be integrated into the existing curriculum. It's all about helping students learn."

So with support from the Canadian Council on Learning and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Lipton created, a digital learning commons for teachers of kindergarten to Grade 12.

The portal allows teachers to access and share teaching resources on media education, take part in discussion boards, chat with media experts and access cutting-edge research on media education practices in Canada.
"This digital portal will help equip teachers with the tools to effectively teach media literacy to students and, in turn, equip students with the tools they need to participate in the ever-growing world of media," he said.
In partnership with Media Awareness Network and the Canadian Teachers' Federation, the week-long launch will allow participants to chat online with a different media expert each day. In addition to Canadian Idol host David Kerr, other experts who will be logging on to chat include representatives from The National Film Board of Canada, The Association for Media Literacy, Ed Video Media Arts Centre, Invert Media and Globalaware Independent Media.

"The guests will discuss innovative ways to integrate media into the classroom and answer questions about their own experiences with media," said Lipton.

The online learning portal is based on the principles of Web. 2.0 and is a key part of the Media Education Project. Over the next three years, Lipton will continue to interview teachers about media education, help build the online tools contained in the digital portal and study how teachers are using it. In this way, the portal will be used as a research tool to poll users and gauge the state of media education in Canada.

To visit the website, go to For a schedule of the online chats and to participate, click on the "Talking Media" link at the right side of the webpage.

Prof. Mark Lipton
School of English and Theatre Studies
519-824-4120, Ext. 56049

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982.

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1