From the Director’s Chair

The DirectorWelcome to the punctuation-free, we-recognize-the-only-constant-with-kids’-media-is-change, kidsmediacentre. A world where new media, becomes old media, very quickly.

The kidsmediacentre has been a gleam in Dean Nate Horowitz’s eye for many years. As the only post-secondary institution teaching children’s media production in Canada, it makes sense that teaching and learning about kids and media flourish, not only with our current college students but with the industry at large. Our goal is to engage any children’s content producer who has a stake in children’s media, technology and entertainment in the process of “renewal” and “continuing ed” as we study and explore kids’ media futures.

Media is curriculum

Ten years of media literacy experience in classrooms across Canada has helped me appreciate the incredible curriculum of learning that can be discovered through media. Media studies have helped my students explore the concept of story arc, gender representation, government waste, body image, peer pressure and the relationship between sedentary lifestyles and healthy living. They have explored these real world issues by examining Canadian produced youth television, commercial content, package design, gaming archetypes, film narrative, TV characters and social networking sites. Students can learn so much about the world around them through the media lens. In turn, media offers them a pulpit and a voice with which to share their own world-view… or at least post a Club Penguin high score or their latest Lego creation.

Who’s programming whom?

Of course, much of the media kids spend time with is a result of them setting their own programming priorities. Gone are the days when broadcasters determined what kids would watch and when they’d watch it. Today, kids are saddling up in front of their iPad, downloading game-based apps, charging them to their mom’s credit card (uh-huh), and programming their own media agenda. And that media convergence thing? It wasn’t a pre-millennium, pie in the sky dream after all. It’s just the way it is. Kids watch their favourite TV programs on their Xbox, read the classics on their iTouch and locate their friends through the geo-targeting apps on their mobiles. We call them platforms; they call it life. Amazingly, the Justin Beiber generation also goes to the mall to buy music. Yes this generation, unlike their Limewire-raised older siblings, believes they should pay for music – unless, of course, there’s an option to watch it on YouTube. In their case though, the new mall is the ITunes store. And it’s just a click away.

If you entertain them, they will come

So we know media is curriculum. But it’s also engaging, inspiring and massively entertaining, which is why children are there in the first place. Entertain them and they just might program you in.

There is so much to learn about kids’ interactions with media and so many youthful behaviours to explore and we look forward to researching these issues with you.

As a learning community, Centennial College is committed to building knowledge in the children’s creative content industry. Here @ the kidsmediacentre, that quest continues.

I look forward to meeting you.

Debbie Gordon
Director, kidsmediacentre @storyartscentre