Living And Learning In The New Digital Media Media Essay

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Abstract. This paper explores living and learning with new digital media. It looking backwards and forwards to examine learning in new digital media. It reviews upon current event around the world. It bases on research papers and some of unpublished paper to extract to know how people live and learn new media technology. Thus, examining the differences and usage patterns of New Digital Media among youths and the implications it has on Human Computer Interaction.

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1 Introduction

The youth of today are born into the digital era, following the rapid development in technologies particularly in the growth of the Internet, related peripherals and devices in the 1990s. Digital media such as email, instant messaging, social network, online games, information sharing sites, such as Facebook, and YouTube have infiltrated the everyday lives of the youths.  The contemporary youth shares some distinctive characteristics in social behaviors having grown up in an environment of digital media.

According to Marc Prensky (2001)1 an American writer and speaker on learning and education described the youths as “Digital Natives” who grew up with technology in the 21th century typically those aged between 15-35 years of age. And “Digital Migrants” as a generation of technology users who have to adopt to changes and developments through learning to use new technology.

Over the years, young people who are raised with the computer “think and process information fundamentally differently” compared to the older generation who has to make the transition from getting information through traditional non-mediated media such as through books, newspapers, and television. “Digital Natives” are therefore equipped with the ability to multitask, prefer graphics more then text and work better when networked. They are very well connected with the internet with random access to infinite amount of information online.

However, we should be mindful that not all youths are privileged to be exposed to the usage of digital media at a young age. Youths differ greatly in their level of media literacy, and this in terms have to do with their personal psychological developments and the environment that they grow up with.

As Human Computer Interaction (HCI) practitioners, we are very much concern in making the interaction with the computer as safe, effective and efficient as possible for the youth population. HCI in design can be the solutions to the problems that arises with the prevalent use of digital media among youths.

In order to do so, we have to look into how the youths are using digital media. Why are they using such technologies and the motivations for youth to engage in learning and with digital media? With the understanding of such youth driven usage of digital media we in turn come up strategy to address issues that arises with youth participation in digital media.

We will look at the potential of harnessing the collective effort of information sharing such as within the social networking site among the youth as we analyse the learning patterns of youth as they explore new digital technology.

By citing popular social network media Facebook as an example, we will go through in depth study of some of the key features that focus on youth culture and discuss some of the usability issues surrounding the use of such website.

In addition, we look at how youths are using YouTube for different activities online. And discuss some of the limitations of video uploads and sharing.

Lastly, we can look at another social networking site Edmodo, which targets at youth learner and teachers. To see how the usability issues can be addressed. As well as discuss some of pros and cons of using such a site for educational purpose.

New Media

    We live in the world that technology, science and art and communication are integrated each other. New media technology is meant various applications that transfer information via digital techniques. An introduction to new media could be internet, and linking this internet with aspects of other media. Press, radio and television left behind new media. Now new media that combine digital media and interactive media explore many and many.  The digital is the main component in new media. Technologies that converge take and share the ability and characteristics of other technologies based on core technology.

New media can help people to

·         Connect them with their families, friends.

·         Collaborate with their organization.

·         Create content, services, communities and channels that are enable deliver information to other people.

Since 1990s, the way to communicate, the way to access information soucres,  the way to find sources and the way to spend leisure time has been changed by internet and communication technology (ICT). These changes are affected across people’s lifestyle and economy.

           Social network sites, online game, video sharing system, electronic gadgets such i-Phone, mobile phone, portable computers, i-Pad are placed in most of people who are child to adults. It is surprised that these technologies are emerged during this decades. Most of people are adapted these technologies based on developing knowledge and identity. They make communication, friend, educational activities, playing, expressing theirselves by using these technologies. Some people feel worry exploring these kinds of technology dramatically. Young people are more participate in Facebook, YouTube, Livejournal and online gaming.

          

Media Literacy

“Media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and produce communication in a variety of forms.”(NLC, 2003) Media literacy education is not restricted formal classroom. Beyond the classroom, media literacy skills can be learned various kinds of program as after-school activities. Media literacy lessons can help young people harmful effects viewing and using media. The purpose of media literacy is “to help students develop the habits of inquiry and skills of expression they need to be critical thinkers, effective communicators and active citizens in today’s world.”  (NAMLE)

Media Literacy Involves:

Learning about media how can be used efficiently

Engaging with user’s own knowledge when reviewing or evaluating media messages

Knowledgeable where can get information from various sources

Realizing that media have influence on beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviors, and the democratic process

Improve participation to citizen

Receiving more understanding and getting multiple perspectives

Knowing to communicate and express one thing using different kinds of media (6 Key Concepts)

According to the 6 Key Concepts in media analysis:

All media messages are “constructed.”

Each medium has different characteristics, strengths, and a unique “language” of construction.

Media messages are produced for particular purposes.

All media messages contain embedded values and points of view.

People use their individual skills, beliefs and experiences to construct their own meanings from media messages.

Media and media messages can influence beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviors and the democratic process (6 Key Concepts)

Friendship_Driven

           Most people especially young people do negotiations with their friends known as peers. Friendship_driven habits are centered on peers especially from school, but some might be occurred through what they heard and what they saw in media, or religion groups, school sport groups and other local activity groups. Friendship_Driven practices are sometimes good but sometimes bad. Friendship_Driven leads to activities and interests.

Interest _Driven

           Interest_driven centre through their interests such as politician, musician, painter, writer, and actor. For those kind of young people might have different social network and create deep friendship based on interest_driven engagement. Such kind of young people, social network is based on their interest and followed by the interest.

Youth internet usage patterns

Youth Identity

There is a need for youths to be seen, heard and be able to identified over in the digital world. There is a psychological process in which the youths have to go through for them to developed their identity. And social networking sites like Facebook allows the youths a platform to express themselves among friends by posting videos, photos and updating their status. Another popular site MySpace focus on Music interest among the youths by linking musical bands to their fans. By participating in such social interactions youths can be identify themselves with their interest and thus form a group identity on the internet, and have their presence felt despite the fact their existence in a virtual sense. Which sometimes differ from their “offline” identities. (Buckingham, 2007)2

This can be confusing for the youths as specially when they have to juggle both their “online” and “offline” lives. More then often, it results in youths having to create two or more identities in their “online” world in order to satisfy certain expectations that they may encounter in their real life. For example, a teenage student may have one account on Facebook to add her parents as her friend and another account for her peers.

2. Privacy

Youths across a different age age groups differ greatly in the level of maturity and ability to handle the dangers of internet usage. Often, youths tend to fall prey to cyber bullying, identity theft and inappropriate websites.

According to a survey by Singapore Polytechnic (Qiuyi. 2011) 3 involving 800 Singaporeans aged between 15 and 35.  Singapore youths do not appear to be paying enough attention to online security and privacy. One in four does not use the privacy functions of social networking sites, while some 15 per cent are not even aware that such functions exist.

Most youths have the mentality that since they are neither famous or important they do not think that anyone would want to steal their identity. Thus, 33 per cent give strangers access to their social networking profiles.

In addition, a third of the youths admit blocking their parents. This is particularly alarming as parents are the ones trying to protect the youths from internet misadventure. However, youths seems to feel that such authoritative figures are invasive to their privacy. But on the contrary, they are willing to provide access to their social networking profiles to strangers.

Another study by software security firm Norton last year said three out of ten children said their parents have no idea what they do online. This shows that not only youths are vulnerable, ignorant and oblivious about cyber security issues, parents too need to be educated about the pitfalls of internet usage to help make the internet a safer environment for their children.

3. Motivated usage

Despite the diversity of cultures, race and ethnicity of the youths around the world, concern over the digital infiltration have been raised among educators, government and scholars to look into such a digital youth phenomena.

Especially as youths are represented as majority of internet users when it comes to working, learning as well as instant messaging and social networking in Singapore, according to the survey by IDA in 20094.

There is a rise in reliance of new media in Singapore (Nielsen. 2009)5

, and the internet have become the first source of information for the youth, when it comes to research for learning and school work. Internet searches can be easily done by entering keywords into Google with the click of a button. More then often, youth are motivated by their interest to attain in-depth information to their related searches. Moreover, youths can participate in genre specific forums and groups online and engage in information sharing among like-minded peers.

Youths have benefited from this form of instant interaction in gaining more knowledge in their interest area. However, this also challenges tradition forms of institutionalised learning, as there is not much control over the types of information that the youth are getting.

On one hand, there is a free flow of information over the internet. On the other hand, we have no idea what youths today are learning on the internet, which causes concern over the appropriateness of information contributed by anyone anonymous.

4. Credibility issue

Youths differ greatly in their level of cognitive maturity, especially when they developing  their sense of identity in the society. Therefore, as HCI practitioners we should not overestimate their ability to discern and the credibility of information ( Flanagin, Andrew J., and Miriam Metzger. 2008)6 that are widely available on the internet. Most of the time information are contributed by a variety of sources and often copied from one source to another. Making it hard to trace the source of information.

Further more, web content maybe sponsored or supported by paying advertisers, for example Google ads are displayed and tagged to certain videos uploaded to YouTube. There is a question of whether youths are able to discern and interpret the messages that are presented to them on the internet.

Therefore, youths are particularly vulnerable when it comes to disclosing personal information and profiles by responding to such online sponsored links. The dangers are apparent in terms for their physical safety, as youths are targeted for their naivety and fall prey to online solidating and fraud.

A recent report was made about certain slimming pills that are available on a blogging site. Youths rely on the information that are given by the other users of the products on the blog postings. Often the information and feedback are provided by the sellers themselves, touting the benefits of the products. Health care professionals and authorities warns the public on the risks of purchasing such items online as it is hard to verify the safety of contents and ingredients that are present in the products. Yet, youth are the ones who purchase such items that could harm their health (Gan. 2011) 7.

Potential for learning?

Despite issues that have come up with youth engagements with the digital media, there is real potential within the educational field where the free flow of information and youth participation could be harness for collective learning.

Since youths readily engage in online activities through active participation, they are more open to information sharing, there is a large base of users to contribute knowledge sharing. Where youths can develop in their area of interest in specialised communities to learn from each other.

According to Constructivist Learning Theory (Brooks, J. and Brooks, M. 1993)8., knowledge is constantly built upon creation of meaning  through sharing of information and experiences. Thus, digital media such as popular online forums and social networking sites provides a platform for youths to share useful information on the topics of their interest.Therefore, digital media provides an idea platform for learning through the sharing of information.

HCI Implications

We do not advocate to restrict the flow of information on the internet, instead we urge to use HCI to strike a balance between protecting the youths and helping them to attain quality information with the use of digital media.

We cannot assume that youths who has grown up and are accustom with the digital media are expert users. But we seek to improve the design of systems to aid the youths in their use of digital media.

Mindful of such issues, that arise from youth usage of the digital media, HCI practitioners should adapt to the needs of youths media literacy rather than letting users adapt to the technology. And strive to derive a system for the youths to efficiently attain information that are relevant, in a safe environment.

Example Analysis Facebook

Analysis of YouTube Video

    YouTube is a video sharing website that is very useful and usability of all kinds of education and entertainment. People use YouTube for many purpose such as policy, education, music, video and gossip, etc. Whatever they use, YouTube is a good tools for business and education as well.

    Why YouTube is very popular among the people? Answer is very simple. As it is useful and usability for all fields. For those users who are not member, they can see and learn from YouTube video. For those users who are members of YouTube, they can upload and see videos. Members and non-members are a little different.

    Suppose a patient need to make operation (let’s say gallbladder stones), he or she can see video on YouTube in advance so that she knows well about operation and not to feel worried. Such kind of usefulness, people realize that YouTube is a good useful tool for all information. The more users are  more literate, the more they can use new media so that they can use it effective in their life.

    YouTube started at 2005 and by 2006, people were viewing 100 million videos a day and more than 65,000 videos are uploaded a day. Now YouTube is owned by google.

Characteristics Of YouTube Video

    This measure is from 22 February, 2007 to end of April, 2007. Some factors are static (e.g. category, video length and date added)  and it is enough once measure but some are dynamic and data are varied (e.g. views, rating and comments).

Video Category

    There are 12 categories in YouTube. Among them, music is the most popular category. After that, entertainment is second and comedy is third. Unavailable category are set for videos that are stated that inappropriate video. Removed categories are videos that are deleted or removed by uploader or moderator due to against terms of use.

Video Length

    Most servers can accept small and medium video lengths typically  0.5-2 hour movies. YouTube can accept short clipped videos. Over 97% of video lenghs are 600 seconds and over 99% are within 700 seconds. Small amount of authorized users can upload videos longer than 10 minutes.

File Size and Bit Rate

    Avrage video file size is about 8.4 MegaBytes. There are over 42.5 million YouTube videos, more than 357 tetrabytes are requied to store.

View Rating

    The number of viewers can say videos that are popular among users. Some research reviews this rating with Zipf’s law, Pn ~ 1/na, where Pn is the frequency of occurrence of the nth ranked item and a is close to 1.

Edmodo

Edmodo is an example of Social Networking site that is tailored to education for the youths. It can be described as a mircoblogging site that connects the teachers who are the main moderators for creating the online community where students as well as parents can participate. .

Some of the features in Edmodo includes polls, image, file uploads, attachments of links and a library to sort different documents uploaded by the teachers and students. Edmodo offers a platform for teachers to communicate with the students during after school hours. Where students can post their responses to the topics of discussions or assignments setup by the teachers and be alerted through RSS feeds. Postings can be received via computer, mobile phones or other wireless devices.

Students and teachers can track the recent postings through the calender. Teachers can also provide grades to the students assignments through Edmodo.

In terms of usability, Edmodo represents a clean simple look without clutter on the main page. The login and registration is clear as there are only two choices, the user can either login as a student or a teacher. Both presents different interfaces that cater to the needs for different users.

Privacy and security issue is addressed where students have to register with a group code provided by the teachers. This offer a safe environment as students can be sure to enter the specific community assigned by the teacher. If the students are under age of 18 personal information can only be disclosed with parent or guardian’s consent.

In Edmodo, students’ profiles can only be viewed by the user groups that they belong to, only students names and photos will be displayed. Students can either choose to provide their email or choose not to disclose their emails. This adds to protect students from unnecessary email spams in the future.

Overall, Edmodo allows expansion to different learning communities, where teachers can tap on the similar interest of the community and provide opportunities for collaborative learning.

However, there are drawbacks to Edmodo precisely because it allows the students not to provide email address, immediate updates on postings cannot be alerted through the email. Unlike in Facebook where responses to can be directed to the email address of the users if the user choose to enable the email alert function. In the case of Edmodo updates can only be alerted through RSS feeds.

The information structure for Edmodo is also rigid as users cannot organise the information according to their way they work. Where postings are organised in a top down fashion. Where the latest postings is organised at the top.

Students are not allowed to have private discussions as teachers have a access to all group postings. This feature can be good to prevent students from cheating on assignments but bad for collaborative work if the students need to have private discussions among themselves.

Unlike, Facebook or other social networking sites that are catering to a wide range of users where it is hard to evaluate the way the site is used for, Edmodo, is more user specific. Therefore, providing users more ways to access and organise information is important to improve user satisfaction. Credit however, can be given to the clean interface, sufficient feedback and instructions to guide the user through registration login and postings. Making it an overall, pleasant platform for community based information sharing.  

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1   Introduction

1.1    A Brief History of Facebook

Facebook was launched in February 2004 as a Harvard-only online social networking site. Since its launch, Facebook had successfully expanded into the college, high school, and adult markets. The move to allow adults to join Facebook in September 2006 gave rise to its explosive global growth; its users increased from 12 million in December 2006 to 350 million in December 2009 (Hew, 2010).

   Today, Facebook is the biggest and most popular online social network. In 2009, it overtook MySpace, which is its competitor and has a longer history. Experian Hitwise reported that Facebook was the top search term in 2010, and it was the top visited website in 2010 for the first time, overtaking Google.com.

1.2    Characteristics of Human-Computer Interactivity of Facebook

An individual will create his or her “profile”, which is a webpage containing basic information such as the user’s birthday or interests, upon registering with Facebook. Facebook allows the user to send messages to “invite” other individuals  to join it. There are many ways for users to communicate with each other on Facebook. Users are able to post short messages, photographs, music or video clip on their own “wall”, which is a space on their profile and is similar to a noticeboard, or on that of another friend. A user may send private messages to another member using the “Send Message” function that is similar to an email service, with the exception that no email address is required and the message is sent to one person only. Users can perform online communication in real-time with friends using the “Chat” function, which is similar to instant messaging. Facebook enables any user to create”Groups” for any reason and each group has its own page.

   Last but not least, “News Feed” is a stream of posts that is displayed on a user’s homepage and it provides the user an overview of the movements of his friends in a “push” model.  

2        Why do Student Use Facebook

Hew (2010) identified nine motives of students for using Facebook. These are: to maintain relationship, to meet new people, to make oneself more popular, to kill time, to express oneself, to assist learning, to use as a tool for managing tasks, for student activism, and lastly, using Facebook is cool and fun. Students use Facebook mostly to maintain relationships with people whom they know offline. Facebook features, such as “Wall” postings and profile information, support such activities.

    Pempek, Yermolayeva, & Calvert (2008) reported that Facebook profile allows the users to display their identity and this plays an important role in the development of youth identity. Students express their identity frequently by posting media preferences such as favorite books, favorite music, and more. Similarly, they post photographs to express themselves. Less often selected means of self-expressions are political views, religion, and others.

   According to Pempek et al. (2008), students spend much of their time “lurking” on Facebook. Three popular “lurking” activities are: reading other users’ profiles, looking at photographs, and reading the news feed of the activities of their friends.

   Cheung, Chiu, & Lee (2010) found that social presence is “the most important factor that determines students’ usage of Facebook.” Social presence refers to the degree whereby an individual is conscious of another individual in a technology-mediated communication setting (Weinel, Bannert, Zumbach, Hoppe, & Malzahn, 2010). Facebook’s features, such as “News Feed” and “Chat”, emphasize the presence of other people in the virtual environment, resulting in a high perceived social presence, and therefore exert a strong influence on users to continue to use Facebook to connect and communicate instantly with their friends (Cheung et al., 2010).

3        An Example of the Collective Effort of Information Sharing on Facebook

The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and PCWorld had reported that Facebook and other social networks had played an important role in the demise of President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year-rule in Egypt. The Egyptian protest was sparked by the death of a 28-year-old Egyptian businessman, Khaled Said. He was beaten to death by police officers. Within days of his death, a Facebook page (We Are All Khaled Said) that posted photographs of his shattered body, was created. It became the biggest dissident Facebook page in Egypt, and it helped to spread the word of the demonstrations in Egypt. Facebook had enabled discontented young Egyptians to organize, mobilize, and coordinate protests. News Feed enabled news to be broadcasted widely and large groups to be formed almostly  instantly.

4        The Ugly Side of Facebok

ScienceDaily reported that cyber-bullying is a growing problem among adolescents and perpetrators often uses new technologies such as Facebook to harass their victims. An example is the case of an American couple who cyber-bullied a dying 7-year-old. WJBK FOX 2 Detroit reported that the couple posted a photograph of the terminally-ill schoolgirl on Facebook above a set of crossed bones and another photograph of the girl’s dead mother in the arms of the Grim Reaper.

    Another growing trend as reported by Adelaide Now is cyber-vandalism “in which social media site users post obscene messages and pornographic content on tribute pages.” Herald Sun reported that pornographic and disturbing pictures, some of which featured dead babies and foetuses, were posted on a Facebook site dedicated to Queensland flood victims.

    Last but not least, privacy is another major concern. When News Feed was implemented in September 2006, many users were upset by it and hundreds of groups were formed to protest against it, leading to the introduction of enhanced privacy controls (Kirkpatrick, 2010). Hoadley, Xu, Lee, & Rosson (2009) explained that the new interface “triggered users’ perception of increasing information accessibility”. On the other hand, with the old interface, a user had to intentionally search for information updates in another user’s profile.

 

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