Teaching Digital Creative Artists (or what to do when your department chair channels Ned Ludd)

by Steve Jackson

The Post Modern Era

As we move into a recognizably post modern era of university education I have noticed when consulting on digital media development that the main failure in properly educating students is not the liberal arts model we have inherited, but the use of the model as a means of giving second class status to technologists and artists on campus.  Rather than embracing the difference between the three arms of human liberal expression, the people who study and perfect a grammar approach, the people who study and perfect a logics approach, and the people who study and perfect a rhetorical approach, the current era is seeing a paradoxical movement against technology on the college campus.  It became clear to me that this was happening when an administrator said in an open meeting that the university was not going to lower itself to teaching technology.  This comment was directed at a shocked video production professor who had no idea until that minute that her boss considered her a second class citizen and was busily preparing her a seat at the back of the academic bus.

Fear of technology is nothing new in academic.  Writing in ink was a new experience for the people of the court of Charlemagne when he brought the education Alcuin of York out of his cloisters and into court life.  The era before Charlemagne is rightfully known as the Dark Ages because so little writing was done in the former reaches of the Roman Empire.  Alciun, in establishing an educational system for the Frankish kingdom apparently started first by introducing the soft technology of the written grammatical word along with the hard technology that allowed individuals to use ink affixed to vellum or parchment and bound into larger volumes.  After Alciun the world of Carolingian Europe would open up to later scholars expressly because the technology of writing was taught, but this does not mean everyone of the era approved of this technology.

The motif of advancing technology and the learning of that technology clashing with educational purists continues through out educations.  Gerbert, who would later be a pope, was demonized for introducing tools for rational thought and devices to measure the heavens from the Muslim Caliphate.  Vernacular study translations of the Christian bible just two hundred years later were burned and their authors bones dug up from the ground and destroyed because access to religious information through hand written documents was seen as dangerous to the world order. At the same time European education was being rocked by the fight against scholasticism in studies such as health, science, and astronomy, with new tools being introduced and denigrated for hundreds of years.

The problem with teaching any creative art is that mostly, they involve the use and mastery of technology.

There are a number of clash points that seem to come up.  The first is that while it is possible for a practitioner to learn theory sufficiently to handle even advanced academic classes, mastery of technology is often arrived at from long practice.  The mistake that the video production professor was making with her dean was that she regularly taught theory and studies courses, while very few theory professors had the credentials or skills to teach technology.  Instead of accepting this as a quirk of the liberal arts (where grammar can be a much harder set of skills and values to develop to a professional level of understanding than undergraduate level studies and theory courses (because an understanding of theory sufficient to teach an undergraduate course does not imply the ability to publish or research in that area) it is used as a cudgel to beat down the development of high quality art programs in technology such as video production.

At the same time, more is being demanded of curriculum because the industry is loosing it normal mooring points (such as news casts in local television stations that pay their producers a living wage).  Automation, computer assisted production, and the collapsing of lower skilled jobs into the realm of minimum wage, part-time contracts has demanded more from curriculum that cannot be given to the students over the objections of anti-technology leadership.  The current complexity of the industry has forced the video production student to A) become more skilled, B) become more broadly skilled, C) look away from the traditional media for employment, and D) develop an entrepreneurial edge to their work that makes them always looking for business opportunities. To supply this our curriculum has to use each contact hours for the maximum benefit of the student.  Instead, production majors are being diluted to avoid teaching students needed skills.  A look at a college such as Heidelberg University shows that its Integrated Media major provides three courses for learning the skills of communicating with technology, but each of the courses are vague catch-alls, a series of introductions to the idea of media production rather than strong production courses designed to move a student to a mastery that will allow them to navigate through a complex industry and find work in a marketplace that may require the worker to make up their own jobs.  At the same time the student, who cannot be expected to tell that they are being sold an inferior program, and left to figure their way through no less than five speech courses.  This is egregious considering the fact that the student who will have to be a master of the grammar side of the liberal arts while have far more rhetoric than the skills and ideas they need to understand their own field.

Technology has provided the talented producer with a wide range of tools that they can use to create products that can pay a living wage through creative use of the Internet and new media. A new graduate can earn a living producing documentary videos for sale on iTunes, can produce small/intense audience web series whose funding is through Kickstarter, or can develop advertising revenue through commentary-based media in highly targeted audiences. Most media producers will maintain several revenue sources, moving into and out of the mainstream media as opportunities present themselves.    Making sure the student has five speech classes is not a frugal means to achieve the knowledge and understanding needed of the industry to prosper, and only the best students will turn that information into a career.

To aid a student in reaching this level of competence in their undergraduate career, the faculty member must be prepared to use intensive learning strategies in a linked series of classes. This means that each learning experience must use active learning to assure long-term retention of knowledge, the learning experiences must include intensive educations in the culture of the industry where each member is an active rather than passive participant in the process, and the students need strong review of their work to provide them the feedback needed to become a quality oriented communicator.

In general the public relations specialist or digital media producer needs no less than six experiences where they are actively involved working in their field before they graduate.  A PR specialist must not simply present a power point in a rhetoric class, but must be taught to use advanced data sets to arrive at objective conclusions on persuasion that can be communicated easily to a client.  A production student must be able to conceive of a product and follow the production of that product from idea to delivery of a finished work.  They need not be highly specialized, but they must have the basic traits that make a member of the industry successful, which are different traits that the PR specialist.

The Trivium as a Basic for Successful Curriculum Development

by Steve Jackson

In working with curriculum across more than thirty universities in a decade, I began to take note of both errors that faculty were constantly making when they created curriculum (and which would require extensive cleaning up at some point) and the models that succeeded even when the odds against success were significant.  I want to make it clear here that, except for connecting some of these concepts to older ideas in higher education, the basic “best practices” when making curriculum have all been things I have observed other faculty doing.

In most cases the faculty I watched create curriculum who were the best at it knew perfectly well what they were doing and why, so this is not a case of my observational brilliance teasing points of practice from the processes used by faculty who accidentally arrived at success.  In nearly every case the faculty knew why there were doing what they were doing, and were deliberate in their efforts to use their theory to drive the practice of their curriculum.  This is not to say faculty who performed poorly in this area were illogical in their choices.  Many in fact were logical, it is just that their logic tended to be directed to other ideas than developing a frugal, teachable, and hard hitting curriculum that would lead students to success in a particular field of endeavor.

One example of this is the “liberal arts cudgel.”  About half the curriculum discussions I have been involved in (thirty or more) my notes show an immense amount of time being wasted talking about the liberal arts and if the curriculum violates this principal.  In two noted examples, an art historian serving as a lone scholar in a department of physical artists brought up the problem that the art major included only one art history class with the option for a second, which he believed meant they would graduate without a foundation in the liberal arts.  The discussion then devolved into twenty-hours of discussion of what the liberal arts was.  This was one of the questions I was brought into answer for the department, so I gave them the answer that would best serve their purposes.  The liberal arts is a founding concept of liberal education which is commonly used to delay and stop curriculum innovation leading to thousands of hours of discussions.  I then pointed out the obvious, the college required all students to take 36 hours of core work that was called the “liberal arts core”.  This both defined what the liberal arts was, and solved the departments problem in one short reading.  The liberal arts is, at that college, whatever the liberal arts core claims to teach, and since the core was handling matters well, there was no need to waste time, energy, or money trying to duplicate in inside of an individual department. (see this article on the subject.)

In many cases though an understanding of the liberal arts is an important tool in curriculum creation.  The main reason is that the idea, in its original form, survived intact as a logical argument for more than a thousand years before taking a huge left turn in America during its first century of existence.

The basic understanding of the liberal arts is that it consists of three broad understandings of knowledge.  The first is grammar, or the use of tools to gather and modify information.  Grammar is in its widest understandings a study and mastery of technology.  The second understanding is that of logic, or the ability to obtain an objective answer when using the tools of grammar to collect and record information.  The third understanding is that of rhetoric, or the ability to communicate the objective answers found by logic to an audience using the tools of grammar.  The three liberal arts form an interlocking set of circles, representing that each area of understanding is connected to the other.  Despite this large parts of each understanding are their own areas of study.

The first observation I made of well designed curriculum was that it tended to be concentrated in one area of the trivium with occasional visits to the other.  The concentration made sense as I interviewed students.  Students tend to be most comfortable with one of the liberal arts.  They tend to be much weaker with the other two.  At the undergraduate level the successful major recognizes this, and tends to be significantly heavy in one area.  It also does not abandon the other two, but treats them as needed expansions of basic concepts taught early in the program to provide context.

Take film as a study in a college.  There are three basic ways it can be studied assuming that the curriculum writer intends the student to be proficient in the field and able to easily hold employment.  The three areas are:

  • Grammar: Filmmaking.  How to create films from design to release.
  • Logic: Film Studies.  The artistic, cultural and social understanding of film.
  • Rhetoric: Film Business.  The marketing of films or video.

A good major in each of the three cases looks very different.  Filmmaking is a complex craft learned by being present problems and solving them.  Film studies is the study of the meaning, content, effect, or arty of films.  Film business is the funding, selling, and development of major film projects.

A good filmmaking major has an introductory film history course (logic) and a film business course near its end, but concentrates on a series of efforts to learn writing, visual story telling, the art of motion photography, editing, and then capstone courses where the students actually produce movies.  The film studies major would have a film history course at the start and a business course at the end, but would have a single filmmaking experience that roughly tried to cover all of the basis of the courses listed above, and would instead spend much of its time in understanding the complex theory of how films and understood by audiences.

Each major attracts a very different student at the undergraduate level, and the students can become unnerved if they feel they are signing up for one course of study and instead get another.


The Bogus Discussion of Liberal Arts

by Steve Jackson

It was my second job as a consultant in curriculum when I faced down the specter that haunts nearly every discussion of college education in the United States today.

What is the liberal arts and how can we make sure our department’s curriculum is liberal enough?

This question was in a small packet I was handed when I was hired by Hudson University* to aid the department of Arts** in creating a new and innovative curriculum to turn around a steady decline in enrollment.  The faculty had bogged down on a few questions, but in terms of hours spent in discussion, the main problem was obviously this one question pressed forward by two faculty.

I started going through the curriculum and was impressed.  The committee chair and her three associates had rapidly identified the model for students they successfully retained, then used a combination of industry peer reviews, faculty visits from other colleges, and discussions with working artists, to create a wonderful concept of the entrepreneurial artist who could find self-employment through developing paid projects.  In terms of the basic liberal arts (which of course was part of their question), the program they taught was clearly grammatically based, as was their student body. This was successfully operationalized by having most courses being hands-on operational courses.  To the very strong and pointed core they had hung a small set of rhetorical and logical courses which would take the skilled artists and give them the idea they also needed to be a working artist, and what this meant.

The problem was that two of the four members of the committee had backed away from the final design and sent the discussion into a long existential discussion of the liberal arts.  This was not wrong for them to do.  More than once I have walked in on programs which make so many foundational mistakes that fixing it by minor tweaks is impossible, only throwing out the previous design and starting over will bring it forward.  To determine why the two faculty had backed out of the original plan, I read the minutes as closely as I could, looked at the old curriculum, and then talked with the dissenting faculty.

The old program had been a general arts degree with three concentrations based on the artistic background of the three of the five original faculty: graphic design, fiber arts, and sculpture.  One interesting feature of the older program was that the degree core consisted of six classes, four drawing courses and two art history courses followed by a single course in graphic design, fiber arts, and sculpture.  These nine classes then allowed four area specific courses.

This is like finding fired tile near a water source for an archeologist.  The curriculum reviewer can often suggest a theory of how this model came about.  In the original curriculum drawing was considered the core skill of art.  That was why it was at the middle of the program.  The art history courses is common in art colleges, and two are often required for a fine arts degree.  So to the original designers, this was the art degree, and the concentrations was an addition made to act like an elective.

The new curriculum was harder hitting.  Fiber arts, whose professor was no longer present, was dropped from the concentration.  The committee members then decided that a student could work in the digital realm or the physical realm.  The core was now a drawing class, a digital class, a physical arts class, a single art history course, and an arts business course.  Digital and physical arts now had six courses in a strong curriculum that centered on a new maker space.  A capstone then finished the student’s studies.

The two faculty who had backed out of the process and created the deadlock thought that the elimination of drawing and art history classes turned the major into a “practical” instead of a liberal arts major, and that the rush to make the art program popular by making students in the program able to find and retain work was missing the point of an art program.  The term starving artist existed for a reason, and a good liberal arts program did not promise the student would be able to work in the field of their art, only that they would be aware and able to appreciate art when they saw it.

In almost every consult you arrive knowing that there is only about fifty-percent chance you will be able to help.  Most faculty are not keen to listen to outsiders even in situations where listening could result in sustained employment, and there is often underlying issues that issues like “the liberal arts” hides.  In this case though the faculty were not all that biased.  They had real concerns and wanted answers themselves.

The answers were not hard to provide either.

The liberal arts has made shifts over the centuries in meaning.  The original Greek concept of the liberal arts was that in order to seek meaning in a complex universe one must know how to use technology to send, receive and record information (collectively grammar), to process the information seeking deeper meaning in its recorginaztion (logic), and to then clearly communicate to others your findings (rhetoric).  This carried through until after the European renaissance.

Many American scholars are unaware that their own understanding of the liberal arts is strained through the filter of slavery in the United States.  While European universities adopted a strict understanding of the liberal arts as a set of tools that equip the user to determine objective truth, American universities in the years, lacking huge endowments from the eras when faculty where priests who could pray for hire, were dependent on enrollment money in the form of tuition.  Before the Civil War the most reliable source of enrollment money was the extremely wealthy slave holding families of the south***.

Almost all college students in this era were wealthy unless they were being subsidized by a church with the intention of being a pastor.  In terms of individual wealth, southern plantation owners were the key to many college enrollments.  These students were often being sent to get an education since they were the second or third sons and could not expect to run the plantation.  Unless they sought out military service or entered church service, few could expect to be anything other than members of the slave owner society.  Slave owners saw themselves as aristocracy, and like to follow the fashions of European gentry.  One of those fashions was that a lack of education among the idle gentleman class was uncouth.

The expectation of these young gentleman was not that they were learn useful skills to sustain an income producing career, but that they would learn enough culture so as to not embarrass their families when they returned home.  Thus the liberal arts went from a set of tools that allowed an objective thinker to solve problems, to the idea that the student was being prepared for polite society.  Working skills such as engineering were the bane of slave culture in any case, so there was little call for the student to return home with them in his possession.

Thus the idea of the liberal arts being divorced from technology, or divorced from practicality, has more to do with the dead slave holding culture than modern society.  The main goal then is to explain this to faculty so that they understand that the tight shackles of the liberal arts are an illusion crafted by people long dead.

Cutting the shackles in this case was relatively easy.  Hudson University, like most universities, had a “liberal arts” core which is claimed in its catalog “aided a student to develop a liberal understanding of the world required to survive in modern society.  The logic here was obvious.  If a student spent a third of their credits to attain the liberal arts core, then why would a department have to duplicate this?  Either the university was failing to deliver a true liberal arts experience in that core, in which case the solution was not to create a mini-core in a major but to correct the main core. On the other hand, if the university core was being well done, then there was no need to worry anyway.

At this point the argument of liberal arts was a dead letter.  As often happens in these discussion, the liberal arts turned out to mean whatever each faculty member meant it to mean to support  their argument.  When the rhetorical tool was removed the conversation got more honest.  For example, the argument on drawing courses did not actually hinge on the liberal arts, but on the employment of three adjuncts.  Fewer courses meant that each adjunct would not likely get their desired number of classes.  And this crosses a basic idea of professional curriculum design – curriculum is created to teach students, not to employ faculty.

In the end it was the issues of what classes the faculty were willing to teach, and how many adjuncts would be needed to teach core classes, that defeated the curriculum change proposal.  The next year a new committee met and developed a new curriculum than changed class titles but remained otherwise the same.  The program ended up being closed two years later as its could no longer sustain the department size without new majors, but the work was not lost, one of the faculty members later created the same program at a new university proving the concept.

Just to close out this missive.  A friend of mine once defined liberal arts as, “anything which allows me to teach what I want, when I want, and to whom I want.”  While a bit bitter in tone, the curriculum designer should understand that the basic idea of liberal arts is sound, and that even the trivium is a powerful tool for designing hard hitting majors, but that the buzz word is hard to deal with when it is used to close down discussion.

*Hudson University is a tip of the hat to DC Comics and the television series Castle.

**It is my normal practice to use the Department of Critical Studies to identify the program I am hired to work with. In this case the arguments were discipline specific and there are art programs around the United States, there is no way the reader will be able to identify the particular program unless they happened to be present during my visit.  My apology to people who will write claiming to have been present and to want to discuss points of the visit.  To maintain my contractural obligations any discussion of this sort will be in the abstract and not about any specific event.  This is done with full knowledge that the reader may have been sitting around the table and been party to the discussion.

***European aristocracy were the old world equivalent.  Blessed with huge incomes and little real work, a scion of a great house was expected to do something useful.  A few years reading at a college was seen as a civilizing influence.

How to Create a Bad Major

by Steve Jackson

I was visiting my forth college as a consultant in digital media curriculum development when I noticed a theme.  Digital media programs at most of these colleges were failing despite the expectation that they would succeed based on student interest and a strong job market.  In gathering my notes, I discovered that all of the previous programs I had created were plagued by the same problems, and those problems generally meant either a major that failed to attract students, or a major that failed to educate the students it attracted.

Large Committees – In every case where a curriculum was failing, it was attached to a large committee where members were selected for availability instead of skill, and where the leadership of the committee was not actually credentialed in digital media.  At one midwestern college seven faculty were assigned to the new “digital media” major.  Digital media is a vague term that can mean a strong film production course, to a media studies course aimed at getting students into graduate school, to a new media public relations program.  The large committee, with a preponderance of social sciences professor, created a major that looked much like the social science programs around it.  It failed because the one credentialed member of the committee did not have the authority to speak or the power to push the major into a more practical direction.  As a consultant the single most important act I ever did, and the one which almost always fixed the ship, was to change the membership of the founding committee.  By taking three faculty, giving them a chair with a clear knowledge of the field they were creating the major for, and teaching the committee tricks to streamline discussion, most programs could be fixed without further expenditure of consulting dollars.  In most cases having these faculty clearly represent a constituency in larger departments assured clear communication channels in creating a new major.

Broken Authority and Responsibility Chains – Related to the idea of large committees often failing to produce strong results is the problem of broken authority and responsibility.  At one college I consulted at a small committee was completely tipped over by having a single, very entitled, tenured administrator holding a position amongst three young professors with credentials.  The administrator had endless authority, but no responsibility for a failed or poor product.  As a result, the administrator’s presence turned a relatively innovative team into a cowed group, especially since the administrator was fond of using her power on tenure committees to force faculty away from their academic and professional opinions.  Order was restored when the committee was stripped of the administrator and told to create the best product they could from an academic standpoint: their efforts would not result in censure as an academic product.

Mistaken Center – Three majors in a row I was hired to repair had mistaken centers.  A mistaken center is when a group of faculty avoid the obvious connection of some subjects to broader areas of understanding for reasons of prejudice or politics.  In one case, a group of faculty had decided to propose a “social media” major.  Social media majors have run into a great deal of criticism for good reasons, and this one could serve as a case study.  The college which had put this major forward had an active public relations department, and a well run media studies program, either of which could have hosted social media.  Instead, it was decided this would be a stand-alone social media major that not only offered its own courses across the board, but also avoided offerings from the other two natural partners.  The result was a failed program that could neither retain majors nor train the ones it kept in useful skills or knowledge.

The solution for this mess was obvious immediately.  The social media program had to be closed down and grown back out from the beginning with a new set of assumptions.  Using the trivium to find a safe place for the major, the major would be on the grammar, logic, or rhetoric side of studies.  This could mean that it would study the technology of social media (grammar), the social understandings of social media (logic), or the use of social media as a persuasive tool (rhetoric).

Selfish Course Generation – This is a common mistake made in curriculum design.  Take four professors, one who teaches critical studies, the next casual studies, the next rhetorical studies, and the last one grammatical studies.  Ask them what courses a student needs to understand a field and they will often reply predictably by offering a course directly related to their own specialization.  The result is a program with a huge number of taxation courses and fewer pay data courses.  Selfish course generation has in fact become a death knell for the formerly popular communication major.  A public relations professional has a desperate need for a fairly stable set of skills.  Place three public relations professionals around the table and they tend to create curriculum that is highly effective and looks similar to programs created elsewhere.  When those public relations faculty have to share the major with a studies person, a journalist, and a production person, there is a possibility of a synergy where the major becomes stronger through the availability of key electives, but there is also a possibility of the major being bogged down by courses that act like a tax on the student’s educational time.  In the worst case, the number of public relation courses and their movement from entry-level to advanced understanding is interrupted by these taxation courses.  You no longer have a public relations major, but a general communication major with a lot of diverse but uncoordinated knowledge.  Interestedly, students tend to lead these programs for ones where the study is better focused.

Academic Prejudice – The largest center of academic prejudice is the social science (logic) centered practitioners against the grammar (art and technology) and rhetoric (persuasion) based practitioners. The concept of the liberal arts entered into the modern era fairly well understood, but with the rise of a technology driven society with 24-hour communication cycles, and the subsequent expansion of employment in these areas, liberal arts purists tend to strip practitioners specializing in areas outside of logic of their academic empowerment.  A technologist such as a sculptor, photographer, painter, or writer is granted lower class status on campus because they are closer to the blue-collar roots than the logic practitioners.  As a result the important area of studies can squeeze out the equally important areas of rhetoric and grammar even when the major is best centered on the other two legs of the liberal arts tripod.  Identifying this illness is easy, but since liberal arts is a buzz word it can be difficult to break through layers of cognitive dissonance to point out that a public relations student who only have a single public relations course may not be qualified to seek an entry level position in the industry.

Catalog Fluffing – A significant cause of low student moral is catalog fluffing.  A catalog queen is an elective course offered in the catalog but never taught.  Students see these courses and envision they could be the recipients of the course, but soon discover that few if any of the more exciting advanced courses will ever be taught while they are students in the college.


The Six Literacy Model of Communication

by Steve Jackson

No class can be developed for a technology program, and the outcomes of any educational experience cannot be assessed, unless we can clearly define what information and skills should be transmitted to the students. The author feels that a liberal arts program should create literate students capable of taking that literacy and applying to a distinct job field – in this case film production. In the authorʼs opinion, literacy has six parts, one of more of each should be introduced in each class offered as part of the proposed media arts major. The six-literacy model includes information literacy, technological literacy, creative literacy, cultural literacy, quantitative literacy, and scientific literacy.

I. Information Literacy – Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to “recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.” (3) The film student will be able to work in an information rich society, which consists of being able to do these six items when faced with any problem:

  • Determine the extent of information needed to complete a task.
  • Access the needed information effectively and efficiently.
  • Evaluate information and its sources critically.
  • Incorporate selected information into oneʼs knowledge base.
  • Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose.
  • Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally.

II. Technological Literacy – Technological literacy is the ability to employ modern technology, particularly that of digital communication and data processing devices, to perform tasks including those of creative expression, communication, and information processing. Although many people think of technology as only those devices created since the scientific revolution, students should understand that technology use is a hallmark of human existence. Cave paintings and spoken language are technologies no less profound and society changing than bill boards and the digital computer. film students will know how to work with technology present in a modern society, which consists of being able to do these five items:

  • Being able to use digital devices to communicate information in each of the five major modes of communication, text, images, graphics, video, and audio.
    Understanding the theory of how digital devices work and be able to apply that theory to learning new technologies as they present themselves.
  • Understanding the history of technology and how it has been used to support complex societies, including the modern understanding of technology as a tool for empowerment of individuals, its role in creating the modern society, and its current uses in the emerging world.
  • Being able to evaluate technology and choose the appropriate tools needed to complete a project, and be able to communicate these choices to stakeholders in the communication process.
  • Understanding how to use technology in analytical study, using the tools to aid in critical thinking and the creative process.
  • Understanding the four step model of communication (acquisition, manipulation, distribution, and archiving) and how this model applies to the process of completing communication processes.

III. Creative Literacy – Creative literacy is the ability to understand how human beings communicate using writing, vision and sound. Film students will know how to use creativity to solve problems, which consists of being able to do these four items:

  • Understand artistic theories and how humans understand and process art.
  • Understand the history of artistic movements.
  • Be able the ability to create media in video, audio, images, graphics, and text that is effective at transmitting information.
  • Understand the practical aspects of creativity as it applies to effective message creation and dissemination.

IV. Cultural Literacy – Cultural literacy is the ability to understand and appreciate the similarities and differences in the customs, values, and beliefs of oneʼs own culture and the cultures of other. (4) Film students will demonstrate cultural literacy by:

  • Working in their own community to explore and communicate culture close to their own doorstep.
    Developing an understanding of the history of western culture that allows them a baseline from which to understand other culture.
  • Exploring and understand different cultures, including different modes of communication and different social norms for transmitting and understanding information.
  • Demonstrating knowledge and practical skills at navigating social media and online culture, especially how it brings together people of diverse opinions and “backgrounds.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of meaning and how cultures place meaning to various expressions of culture.

V. Quantitative Literacy (5) -Quantitative literacy is knowledge of and confidence with basic mathematical/analytical concepts and operations required for problem-solving, decision-making, economic productivity and real-world applications; this entails the ability to:

  • Understand quantitative methods of reasoning used in media arts, including accounting and statistics.
  • Understand the counting of and measurement of audiences in determining relative success and value of media properties success.
  • Understand binary mathematics and how binary numbers are used to store and manipulate data by computers.
  • Demonstrate basic problem-solving skills using mathematics, including calculation of time and monetary budgets.

VI. Scientific Literacy (6) – Scientific literacy is the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity. For film students, this is understood to mean knowledge of how the sciences allow objective understandings of information, and to know in particular about how the sciences provided insight into successful communication. A film student should be able to:

  • Understand the physics of light and how lenses modify and capture light as images.
  • Understand color theory, especially additive and subtractive color theory used in print, in computers, and in lighting.
  • Understand basic coordinate geometry as it applies to 2D and 3D art.
  • Develop a basic understanding of other sciences, and how to take complex scientific understandings and communicate them to an audience.
  • Understand the difference between objective and subjective truth, and know how to apply objective truth to professional choices.



  1. Jackson, S. (2000 and 2002). Studying Power and Technology Using Oral History. Thesis: University of South Carolina. OCLC# 51765598.
  2. Jackson, S. (2007, March). “Digital Social Sciences.” Presentation. Marlin Fitzwater Center.
  3. American Library Association. (1989) Presidential Committee on Information Literacy. Final Report. Chicago: American Library Association.
  4. Gay, Geneva. (1994). A Synthesis of Scholarship in Multicultural Education. Urban Monograph Series.
  5. Mount Saint Maryʼs College. (2009). A Definition of Quantitative Literacy. Website accessed 1 October, 2009. http://www.msmc.la.edu/academics/ quantitative-literacy- program/definition-of-quantitative-literacy/
  6. National Academy of Sciences. (1996). National Science Education Standards. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.