Simplifying complicated concepts is an essential communication skill. With the advent of cheap video cameras, like the FlipCam that we use in class, and video hosting sites like YouTube and Vimeo, a whole new way of communicating is within reach of the masses. This new reality is changing what literacy means in the 21st century. To be fully literate in this new reality is to be able to use an interplay of images, music, and words to not only explain things in a new way but to also construct new meaning out of old knowledge. The ability to create these new mashups of media has become the new way to communicate in an age of accessible media hosting and creation tools.
The ability to master the creation of a media mashup in the current age of media saturation is equivilent to mastering the well crafted letter or written essay in the not so distant past. The importance of communicating through the written word is still essential; however, when the well crafted phrase is combined with an appropriate image and music the idea being communicated has gone from black and white to technicolor. The reality is more people will understand and be effected by the media mashup because it appeals to more of our senses and a greater portion of our brains than just reading words on a page or screen.
So, why don’t we all challenge ourselves to think about how we can change how we do school. Instead of thinking of that written essay, letter, or summary–how about thinking about how we can turn that writing into a Voicethread essay, music video letter, or video summary (like our Constitution VIdeo)?
Please check out Common Craft and their Electing a U.S. President in Plain English as superb examples of how well crafted words and images can be mashed up to effectively explain complicated concepts.