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Yet Another Reason to Teach Media-Literacy

6 Aug

I have already discussed the importance of teaching students to evaluate advertisements and also things featured in movies (such as smoking, racism) and realize that all these decisions are intentionally made by the directors to sell them (either a product or idea).

Here is yet another reason we need to be teaching students to critically read media. The following videos (37 minutes in length total) from Brand Hype discuss how they feel “mainstream, big-budget movies have become largely a vehicle for advertising and marketing.” (And thanks Brand Hype for the open copyright on your videos!)

Fascinating information and worth the watch:


Another reason teaching about advertising is important …

26 Jul

It is pretty much common knowledge that students “don’t have the time” to do homework and yet they manage to spend hours everyday watching tv, texting, and playing games on social networking sites like Facebook. One of the most popular games on Facebook is Farmville. In fact there are over 100 “Farmville Spoofs” on YouTube:

If you listen in the video they say: “It’ll (Farmville) be your best friend, your social life … you can’t go out with friends because you have to plant fake crops … do you realize how stupid that sounds?” Can we say addiction? Okay but mini-rant aside, the point for bringing up Farmville is that Facebook is now allowing major corporations to advertise in Farmville.

See one of Bing’s in-game ads below:

While there has been a lot of commentary on this shift, the majority of it is negative. Teenagers are already overwhelmed with advertising and have little to not critical-thinking skills when dealing with this type of media.

At the Naked Pheasent Blog, the author made these two comments on Zynga (the company that owns FarmVille):

  • Zynga came under fire recently for allowing advertisements into its games. Some ads, for example, signed up players for subscriptions to costly text-messaging services. This caused a PR headache for the company with TechCrunch, the technology blog, calling the practice “ScamVille,” after some users filed a class-action lawsuit.


  • But with 211 million players every month, according to, Zynga is perhaps well on its way to making social gaming as important to the internet as anything else thanks to a new partnership with an American food manufacturer, (also covered in the New York Times recently).  Cascadian Farm, an organic farm in the U.S. and subsidiary of General Mills, is using one of Zynga’s more popular games, Farmville, to reach a growing customer segment through advertising. Instead of your bog standard click-through ads a la GoogleAd Words however, the Cascadian Farms content will be integrated into the gaming experience.  

Students NEED to be able to critically read media. While this is not currently a standard (that I am aware of) projects can cover many standards at once while also equipping students with the ability to critically read media, a tool all students need to live in America in the 21st century.

“Why Get ‘Ad’-ucated? Because Advertising is All Around You”

20 Jul

The title of this post is a quote from the trailer for a site called Admongo. The purpose of the site? To “Ad-ucate” students … err in plain English to educate students on how to critically (there is that magic word that just keeps showing up) read advertisements so they can make smarter decisions. See the intro video below:

Admongo was mentioned in a NY Times article titled In a World of Ads, Teaching the Young How to Read Them. Admongo says the site is aimed at “tweens” or 8-12 year olds … so maybe a little too young for many teachers looking at this site. But, for who this applies the site is a great, free resource.

The NY Times article points out that “commercial speech differs from other forms of communication.” The language that our students our bombarded with in advertising every single day is linguistically different from everyday communication. It is designed to sale something and often it is designed to make you think that it is not really trying to sell you something … no it’s just trying to remind you of how beautiful, special, and unique you are (and why you would of course understand the need for (fill-in-product-here)).

Advertising language wants to appeal to your emotions, but they try to be sneaky. They don’t want you to know that is what they are doing and they do not want you to think that they are trying to sell something. Didn’t know that? Me either before I skimmed through the text version of Admongo’s site. Why not check it out? It takes less than 30 minutes to scroll through, is interactive, and will likely teach you plenty of information you didn’t know. Check out the Admongo TEXT version of their site by clicking HERE.

As a plus note for the curious, Admongo (made in a partnership with Scholastic), according to the NY Times article, were careful “in developing the materials … to avoid giving anyone grounds to complain that the effort “promotes commercialism by teaching kids advertising techniques.””

Perhaps what is most intriguing about Admongo is that it (the actual site, not the quick text version I linked above) is in a flash game format. Students playing Admongo have to work their way through different levels. With similar graphics and environment as programs like Disney’s Toon Town Online, students will likely catch on quickly and enjoy the graphic-heavy game as they learn something.

My suggestion? Take the time to create a real account and play the flash game for a couple of minutes. (It took me less than 5 minutes to register, including customizing my character.) My thoughts? You will probably be happily surprised.