Media Literacy: “The Medium is the Message”

Media Literacy: “The Medium is the Message”


This series of components constitutes a larger assignment that is part of the media literacy unit in my course, Critical Thinking for ESL Students.  This is still a work in progress!


The sequence is as follows:

  1. Watch the Youtube video, “Crash Course in Media Literacy #3: History, part 2”. (Students have also have to watch and respond to the previous two videos in the series).


  1. Answer questions on the “Self-Quiz,” attached. Students need to submit this to the instructor in some form just to demonstrate completion of it, and the class will review & check it together in class discussion.


  1. Answer the Personal Share question below using Flipgrid.


  1. Answer the Written reflection question below, in writing, on OpenLab (in a public Discussion Board forum).


  1. Think about the Class Discussion question before class in order to be prepared to discuss it.


Personal “share” question.


Watch the Thought Bubble example from Facebook that is given by Jay Smooth in this video, again.  Next, in a short video of 2 minutes on Flipgrid, show us a real life example of a congratulatory message from social media that you find interesting, and tell us why.


Remember, we’re looking for publicly visible messages demonstrating how social media SHAPED the message formation, and messages on a light topic, such as happy birthday, Mother’s Day, congratulations, that are posted to another person’s page.


This message can come from Facebook or other social media, such as Whatsapp or Wechat, but it should have something visual about it (rather than be solely text). If you do not wish to share your own, you may choose someone else’s, (provided it is publicly visible).  In your video, explain to listeners as many of the following as are appropriate: What was the congratulatory message to this person or to the public? How (with what pictures, font, graphics, memes, etc.) was the message created? Are there elements to the post that can ONLY be done on that site or app? Do you know how the creator got the idea to do it? Etc.


Please watch at least TWO of your classmates’ videos, and comment on them.  Your comments can mention any element of the video that you enjoyed, learned from, already had used or known about before, wanted to know more about.  You can summarize the video, if that helps you to get started. Your comments need to be in complete, clear sentences.



Written reflection question.  Look at the skills listed in Question 6 on the Self-Quiz.  Think about what field you would like to major in, or what job you would like to work at in the future.  What could be a connection between having this skill (spotting fake news, etc.) and performing that job?  Believe it or not, there are connections between these skills and almost every job field today, even jobs we used to think of as hands-on, traditional or “offline.”  If you aren’t sure, don’t worry – use your imagination!


In 3 – 5 sentences, explain how having this skill, of either digital or media literacy, will be useful to someone working in the job area of interest to you.



Class discussion question:

How is the material in this video, Crash Course in Media Literacy #3, different, by being a video, than if it had been a piece of writing, such as an article, or textbook chapter?


What is a video able to do that a written article cannot?  On the other hand, is there anything a piece of writing offers you that a video does not?  Can you understand more easily listening to Jay, or more easily when reading?  Do you miss being able to underline or write down notes?  When reading, you have text on a page (or website).  In a video, there is a person speaking to you, with an appearance, a voice, an accent.  What impact does Jay have on you?  Does he seem trustworthy/untrustworthy, interesting/dull, clear/unclear, pleasantly informal/too casual?


Going beyond these tasks, I am interested in exploring some additional ways for the students to interact with one another about these ideas, and to have agency in their work done here.  I want to think about: (a) another way to help students see the idea that the “medium is the message” by asking them to translate, for example, one of their own pieces of writing into a social media post, or the reverse ; (b) to create a question for them where they can then build an interesting, useful collection here on the site, as they answer it; (c) what assignment is reasonable to ask them to do in small groups, as non-Zoom-time work of their own posted to Openlab.


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