Website Evaluation: Media Literacy Clearinghouse
For my evaluation I have selected the media resource website Media Literacy Clearinghouse (http://www.frankwbaker.com/) . This website is a proverbial goldmine of resources and activities for the teaching of literacy in any classroom, grades K-12. I found it highly useful, containing a host of ready-to-use activities, lesson ideas, web links, etc. The following is an evaluation of the many merits (and few detractions) of this web site according to the criteria for evaluating web sites provided by Dalhousie University in Halifax.
This website is maintained by its creator, Frank W. Baker. Frank is a media literacy consultant from Columbia, SC and is a graduate of the University of Georgia (ABJ, Journalism). According to the short biography which is linked on the site, his credentials and experience with media include working for 10 years in television news in South Carolina, Florida and Maryland. He is past president of the National Association for Media Literacy Education (formerly The Alliance For a Media Literate America) and past vice-president of the National Telemedia Council (NTC). He has also assisted the SC State Department of Education's English Language Arts team in revising the state
teaching standards to include elements of media literacy. Frank is also the recipient of the 2007 Leaders in Learning Award and has presented workshops on the subject of media literacy to classrooms and national conferences on learning all over the U.S. All of this information is located as a link on the main page of the web site, intimating that the site is indeed maintained by an expert in the field.
The purpose of this website, as indicated by the title “Media Literacy Clearinghouse” and according to the banner on the main page, is to be a resource designed “for K-12 educators who want to learn more about media literacy, integrate it into classroom instruction, help students read the media, and also to help students become more media aware.” This web site provides resources, links and lesson ideas in a generous amount to support this claim. There are links categorized by media topic (i.e. – “body image,” “commercials,” etc.) which then open up to a page containing numerous hyperlinks to articles, lesson ideas, and other resources to be used on that topic. The site is well-organized in this respect, and easy to navigate.
There is no claim on the site that it is “comprehensive,” and certainly there are other sites (for example, the Media Awareness Network http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/index.cfm) that is indeed much more expansive in terms of the resources and links to be offered. However, the site does have a more than adequate amount of resources for basically every genre under the umbrella of “media literacy,” from media criticism to gender representation. The topics are not always explored at length on this site itself, but rather a list of links to other websites that deal with the topic are provided. For example, the “Radio Music & Sound” section off the main page has a list of links pertaining to these topics outside of the site to lessons and articles about these topics, (e.g. – “Examining Metaphor in Popular Music”).
There is a section right on the main page titled “Timely News and Resources” which provides reliable links to up-to-date web sites that contain news about movies, television, etc. This section also contains links to current online publications that deal with media, including Entertainment Weekly, L.A. Times, etc. The dates for the currency of the information in specific articles and resources is not always given, which would be one of the few criticisms I have of the site. However, the articles do seem timely, as very few that I read that were dated went past 2005. There are no dead links, and no “construction” on the site itself, meaning that the site is fully developed, but grows as new information is posted.
There is no apparent bias on this site anywhere, nor are there any advertisements or personal promotion from Frank W. Baker trying to sway his audience. On the contrary, the site is heavily dedicated to making students aware of bias in the media. The site even offers links to other media sites for further research, if what a student or teacher is looking for is not offered on this particular site. Off the main page there are links to Medialiteracy.com, Media Education Foundation, the Centre for Media Literacy, etc.
From the exploring and reading I have done, the site does contain links that are accurate, and links to other sites and articles are always listed with the bibliographic information attached, where applicable. For example, the section foe “Media Use Statistics” has information that has been taken from studies done in 2008, and every statistic has the source hyperlinked for further study.
I would recommend this site to any teacher who is looking for effective ideas and resources to integrate media into their English classroom.