When you don’t know how to
assess a new media project, giving an A seems like the only fair
and reasonable thing to do.
• New media literacy involves
traditional literacy. New media
actually merges traditional “No
Child Left Behind” literacies with
emerging literacies very well.
• Being literate in a general sense
will include new media literacy
as well as conventional literacy.
It’s just a matter of time until
policy makers recognize that
being literate includes being able
to “read and write” multimedia.
Project: Blurred Movement Poster. Learners experiment with ways of illustrating motion
by using slow shutter speeds and moving the digital camera during exposure. A series of
related images are combined into a matrix. Photographer: Angie Carpenter.
What Will New Media
Assessment Look Like?
Keep in mind that we are still
debating traditional literacy assessment centuries after it was considered part of a standard education.
Therefore, the nature of new media
assessment will certainly be fluid.
But here are a few aspects that can
serve as a beginning point, especially for digital stories:
• the quality of the story
• media grammar proficiency
• application of “art the 4th R” literacy
ASSESSMENT Is Upon Us
Question: Beyond issues
of cost and convenience,
what is the most significant reason teachers are
hesitant about requiring students
to produce new media projects like
digital stories for school projects?
Answer: They don’t
know how to meaningfully assess them.
After all, most
teachers were raised
to produce and
media, like essays
and reports, not
new media projects. In an era of
standardized testing it’s very understandable that teachers would be
reluctant to branch out into new
areas of literacy or content exploration if they don’t feel comfortable
and competent assessing the student work produced by such adventures. Yet new media literacy and
assessment have become issues of
urgency, as well as opportunity, for
the following reasons:
• Students already produce new
cell phones to
play music and
rial that is at
not original. We can help them
cultivate their emerging literacies
and talents, or ignore them at
• A lack of assessment strategy
leads to an “A for Anything.”
Most teachers were
raised to produce and
assess traditional media,
like essays and reports,
not new media projects.
Students Will Pursue New Media
Literacy, With or Without Us
Students live in the tEcosystem
(TEE-ko-system) where they find
many kinds of opportunities for
learning and expression that they
don’t find in school. In fact, students are bringing their tEcosystems with them to school in the
form of personalized, networked
technology so they can effectively
leave school once they arrive. As
we watch our students become storytellers on the great stage of the
Internet, we can best serve them by
helping them speak the language
of new media with clarity and purpose.
Jason Ohler is a writer, teacher, international speaker, and digital humanist who
has promoted art as the 4th R necessary
for successful digital age literacy for many
16 SchoolArts April 2008