HSI, Class 1: Welcome, Class Goals, Media Literacy, & Blog Setup

Let Me Introduce Myself…

I’m Dr. Kristen D. Landreville, PhD (2010, The Ohio State University). I’m an associate professor and the director of graduate studies in the Department of Communication & Journalism at the University of Wyoming.

But, you can call me “Kristen.”

I’ve lived in the Northeast, South, Midwest, and now the West. And, I love Wyoming. I’ve lived here with my family for 8 years. My husband is getting his PhD in chemical engineering. I have three daughters (ages 10, 5, and 4) who you will meet on Friday at my house for dinner. They always LOVE the high school students each year and they are very excited to meet you.

At UW, I regularly teach courses in multimedia production, web design, political communication, science communication, and quantitative research methods. I’ve also taught media writing, magazine and feature writing, introduction to mass media, and media literacy.

This is an important message that I instill in my students who are documenting and sharing their stories. What you say and what you write, here on this blog, should be given much thought and consideration. Be proud of what you write. Proofread at least twice. Be 100% certain that this is what you want documented and shared. This message applies to all of your social media posts as well! Be mindful.

I research topics like political campaigns, political narratives and media (e.g., political humor/satire, political documentaries/movies, political news), and the intersection of politics, science, and narratives.

I teach and research about how people are affected by media and how people talk about media. Most of the time, that involves understanding how people make meaning from their differing perspectives.

Your class is my 6th HSI class. I keep coming back to teach at HSI because I love meeting, teaching, learning from, and interacting with exceptional high school students in Wyoming. I’m proud to say that several of my former HSI students are now my COLLEGE students at UW! So, I am very excited for these next few weeks together.

Goals for the Class:

  1. Using Creative Devices to Improve Your Photography
  2. Understanding Blogging and WordPress
  3. Becoming “Media Literate”
  4. Expressing Your Thoughts About Media in a Professional, Critical, and Personal Style
  5. Becoming More Open-Minded About Diverse/Different Points of View
  6. Participating in a Community of Students Who Support and Encourage, Yet Also Challenge, One Another
  7. HAVE FUN!

Side note: While you are allowed to challenge each other and question each other, you are NOT ALLOWED to be rude, mean, condescending, superior, and just plain ugly to other people based on their opinions, views, orientations, gender, race, age, capabilities, etc.

Discussion of Media Literacy

Define media literacy. How does it impact you?

Part of understanding how media impacts your life is dependent on how “media literate” you are. Let’s formally define what skills it takes to become “media literate”. (Note: Adapted from Stanley J. Baran’s “Introduction to Mass Communication”, 8th edition).

The ability and willingness to make an effort to understand content, pay attention, and to filter out noise — The quality of our meaning making is related to the effort we give it.

An understanding of and respect for the power of media messages — Break down the third-person effect

The ability to distinguish emotional from reasoned reactions when responding to content and to act accordingly — Ask yourself, “Why does this content make me feel this way?”

Development of heightened expectations of media content — Expect more from your media content

A knowledge of genre conventions and the ability to recognize when they are being mixed — Realize that news, entertainment, and marketing are all mixed now

The ability to think critically about media messages, no matter how credible their sources — Analyze your news source from a balanced and objective point-of-view

A knowledge of the internal language of various media and the ability to understand its effects, no matter how complex — Understand how production values (e.g., lighting, editing, special effects, music, camera angle, location on the page, and size and placement of headline) impact the audience

We will cover most of these 7 skills in our class. My goal is for you to view media–ads, movies, news, TV, social media, etc.–in a whole new way after this class. Be empowered by media literacy!

Let’s avoid being spoon-fed by the media and let’s become more mindful consumers and participants of media. And while we’re at it, once we become media literate ourselves, let’s tell our parents, siblings, and friends about some suggestions for becoming more media literate, too.

Blogging Your HSI Story and Media Literacy Experience: WordPress Blog Setup

For your blog, you’ll be posting your classwork here, but I strongly encourage you to also post other thoughts to your blog, like posting some of your HSI feelings and experiences.

So think of your blog as like a continually updated “live” storytelling portfolio. Google yourself right now. What website pops up first? If you post to your blog frequently, then your blog may pop up first (which is what you want). And in the future, you want employers to find your blog when they Google you. So keep updating it!

And you may want to connect your blog to your greater online presence. Post the blog link to your profiles on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and any other online presence you have.

Once you have your blog set up, you need to post! Good blogs do the following:

  • Update frequently
  • Write in the first-person (i.e., “I think) and use conversation-style that shows your personality
  • Provide specific headlines
  • Provide links elsewhere to helpful information
  • Allow readers to comment and comment back to readers
  • Are ongoing conversations among members of a community
  • Can be your professional portfolio, journal, or brainstorming session
  • Embed photos, video, audio, and other multimedia features
  • Are relatively short, usually less than 800 words
  • PROOFREAD!

Example HSI Student Blogs

Let’s look at a few examples of HSI student blogs from last year. In particular, please read their “last day” posts. These students have some helpful hints and messages for you today!

Blogging Workshop

  • Now that you know more about blogging, let’s go to WordPress.com and get your blog setup.
  • Create an “about” page
    • Your name. You do not have to use your real name anywhere on the blog if you want to preserve your privacy. But, you must tell me what your blog name is so I can link to it from our class blog.
    • Some demographic information, such as where you are from and what your family is like.
    • What the purpose of this blog is (e.g., it’s to showcase your storytelling work and/or express your memories and experiences from HSI).
    • Some interests and what you like to do in your spare time.
    • Your career goals.
  • Linking to other web pages
  • Posting photos and inserting other media or files

 Write Your First Blog Post

  • Create a new post
  • Using categories
  • Using tags
  • Saving drafts
  • Changing the visibility
  • Publishing the post

Let’s address these initial topics. Remember the blogging tips. Remember to look for relevant photos and links on the web to include on your post. Let’s write.

  1. Your HSI Experience So Far
    • Explain how you were nominated for HSI. Why did you want to participate in HSI?
    • What do you expect or hope to learn from your HSI classes? From your fellow HSI classmates? What do you expect or hope to learn about yourself?
    • How has your HSI experience been so far? Is it what you expected?
    • Is there anything about HSI that you are NOT looking forward to?
  2. Reading Past HSI Students’ Blogs
    • What information did you find insightful or helpful on past HSI students’ blogs?
    • Was there anything on the past students’ blogs that surprised you?

About The Author

I'm a faculty member in Communication & Journalism at the University of Wyoming. At UW, I have taught online journalism, advanced new media, introduction to mass media, politics and media, and alternative media. At Ohio State, where I got my PhD, I taught research methods, news reporting and writing, visual communication, and persuasion. My reserach focuses on political communication, emerging media platforms, and entertainment media. In my spare time, I love to play with my daughters, hang out with my family, cook, hike, jog, read, and blog.