Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Want to get into acting? Create your own role on YouTube

There has been a buzz over the last couple of months over a regular vlog series that has been uploaded onto YouTube. It was supposedly about a 15 year old girl that was video taping a vlog diary. She talked about things that 15 year old girls go through in life: boys, school, parents, friends, etc... This vlog diary called lonelygirl15 was getting thousands of hits as each video was uploaded to YouTube. Soon the gig was "found out."

This 15 year old was actually a 19 year old actress from New Zealand. Who was acting from a homemade set with her version of home OC. "My parents suck..." episode had over 500,000 hits...why was this series so popular? Have we become so hooked on reality television?

Some YouTubers were very angry and shocked over the misconception thinking this was a "real life teenager" pouring her heart out on the worldwide web. Why were they angry? Are we really that gullible to believe everything we see/hear on the web is true?

As educators I think this brings to light for us that there are no organizations that can (at this point in time) really regulate the content on the web. Child and safety organizations will monitor and advise...but as long as content falls within the legal boundaries of society...the web is fair game.

What is that saying to our students? How do they work through what is real and what is false on the web? What skills and web smart tools do they need? A prime example is Wikipedia. An interesting phenomena....that has made contributing to a digital dictionary/encyclopedia cool. Wikipedia works on a Web 2.0 premise that users can "add" to the content. In short...anyone that has a computer and an internet connection can publish and define just about anything. Students use Wikipedia all the time as a reference resource. How do they know the content is true? What facts/research is the content based on?

Communication through the web potentially allows information to instantly be broadcast to the masses. Anyone has the opportunity today to become a publisher, news reporter or movie producer. Case in point is this blog where I can type and write pretty much any point of view that I like and perfect strangers can respond to my comments (which is what the angry masses did for lonelygirl15.)

Are we really doing enough to prepare our students to a) be ethical reporters/producers or b) content smart viewers?

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