Yonty (Jonathan) Friesem

Associate Director

Yonty (Jonathan) Friesem is the Associate Director at the Media Education Lab and an Assistant Professor of multimedia production faculty at the department of communicationCentral Connecticut State University. He received his PhD from the joint doctoral program in education at the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College. Yonty is an award winning educator and filmmaker who advocates for media literacy education. For the last eighteen years Yonty has worked with a number of youth media organizations, universities and colleges in Israel. As part of his educational work, advocacy, and research, Yonty has presented at international conferences in Oxford, UK, Turku, Finland, and Guangzhou, China. In October 2010 he was a visiting scholar at the Media Education Lab. The collaboration with Dr. Renee Hobbs and the Lab students led him to pursue his PhD as Hobbs’ advisee.

Research. Yonty is developing a measurement tool to explore the level and scale of empathic growth for students during a Rhode Island State Council on the Arts initiated a research project on the nonviolence and conflict management skills learned by producing media. With RISCA Friends Forever, Yonty is collaborating on a evaluation study to measure the effects of producing multimedia materials as a way to learn about the bystander effect. The collaboration with Victim Advocacy  and Violence Prevention, he is developing a model of a successful integration of media literacy by exploring its components. For the new campus campaign of the Summer Institute in Digital LiteracyYonty examines the psychological and sociological development of students and teachers. Currently, he is involved in four research projects. 

For his dissertation, Yonty explored how eight elementary school teachers integrated media production into their practice. Mapping the practice of media production of full time elementary teachers helps him advocate for a deeper implementation of media literacy in the public schools. He is using cognitive and affective components of empathy as a psychological and sociological measure of youth interaction in an out of school program. For four years, he evaluated the First Star URI Academy  program using quantitative and qualitative measurement to assess students’ academic performance. His paper was awarded Top Student Paper in Applied Communication at the 100th annual National Communication Association conference in Chicago in 2014. He initiated many curriculum evaluation projects in Israel such as the Supportive Filmmaking Program, the  Photo-therapy Department at Musrara School of Art, online Israeli Cinema Studies at the Open University of Israel, the Department of Film and Communication at the Ministry of Education, and developed a historical review of the occupational therapy curriculum in the Israeli higher education.  

Teaching. Yonty is teaching undergraduate and gradate students in Media Studies at Central Connecticut State University. In the classes, the students work in groups to produce multimedia for community outreach. By developing digital and media literacy skills, the students learn to be active citizens of the 21st century. Students produce different TV genre at the CCSU TV studio to raise awareness for different social issues such as violence prevention. In the multimedia classes, students create digital campaign to raise awareness for different non-profit organizations and campus initiatives such as Bridging the Gap.   

.  Students Leadership Council (NAMLE) as a member of the National Association for Media Literacy Education. Yonty coordinates and host the series on research design in media literacy for the the Supportive Filmmaking Program and the video therapy program at Durham College, Canada in Global class in 2008, he created online platforms for media classes. Furthermore, he uses webinars to expand his outreach to various communities around the world. Since 2014, he has offered webinars on digital empathy for the Open University of Israel. After receiving a special grant from the Central Connecticut State University for graduate online classes at Quality Matters Peer ReviewerYonty is teaching online classes for universities and schools. He is a 

Yonty started as a videography instructor for the "Together" Project - using art to create empathy between Arab and Jewish children in Jaffa, Israel. After receiving a special grant for the guidance of youth-at-risk from the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life, he decided to enter the formal education system. Between 2001-2008, Yonty specialized in teaching media literacy with special populations such as students with learning disabilities, students with behavioral and emotional problems, mentally challenged students, gifted students, and youth-at-risk. Yonty was a homeroom teacher at Yehud Comprehensive High School, while teaching in five different high schools. His students won many awards for their short films such as Yad Vashem Educational Prizes, Wim van Leer best film award for high school students, First Prize for Documentary Film - Dimona Short Film Festival, Contribution to the Community Grant from HOP TV Channel and the Ministry of Education, and Outstanding Contributions to Society Award from the City of Rehovot and   "Metsila," the Israeli Anti Drug Abuse Foundation. Since 2007 he has been teaching undergraduate students at the Open University of Israel, Tel-Aviv UniversityUniversity of Rhode Island, and Temple University, as well as in different colleges such as Camera Obscura, Ma’aleh School of Television, Film, and art, Oranim, Academic College of Education, and the Academic college of Society and Arts

Educational Leadership First Star URI Academy   and Project Look Sharp, PBS news Hour Student Reporting Lab to bring media literacy to special populations in the state of Rhode Island. Nation-wide, Yonty worked on the educational outreach as well as coordinating research groups for Adoption RI, and VSA Art RI, RIIFF, RISCA since January 2012. He collaborated with Media Education Lab. Yonty has been managing the Israeli Cinema studies website, and the Open University online Israeli media literacy teacher website from 2004-2008. He was a web manager of the Yehud Comprehensive High School from 2001-2004, and the head of the cinema and communication department at Ferkauf High SchoolYonty was head of the cinema and communication department at

Since 2013, Yonty has been working with the executive director of VSA Art RI, Jeanine Chartier. Together, they received a grant for $31,000 for equipment and professional development in the Central Falls public library. In 2014, they received a $20,000 grant from the Washington D.C. Kennedy Center to hold a professional development workshop for more than 200 in-service and pre-service teachers in Rhode Island, teaching Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and digital literacy. 

Workshops. Yonty offers many professional development workshops for educators and administrators who are interested in implementing technology in their classrooms. As Faculty and producer of the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy, he works with educators to promote digital and media literacy skills to become mentors in their educational settings. With his model of media production integration, Yonty advocates for the creation of a  sense of shared goals, enhanced sense of mastery, and reassurance to be autonomous in order to integrate digital and media literacy practices. 

Since 2004, he is working with the Head of the Department of Film and Communication at the Israeli ministry of Education, providing media literacy teacher professional development. Internationally, Yonty gave a professional development workshop to 200 TV executives of Guangdong TV center at the   Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival. He presented the core concepts of media literacy to the Israeli Democracy Institute. Nationally, he offered workshops and made presentations for educators, media practitioners, and administrators at PBS, NewCAJE, ScriptBiz, Northeast Media Literacy Conference, NAMLEISTEAERA, and NCA. Locally, he gave workshops for JFRI, WordCamp, Promising Practices Multicultural Conference, URI Technology Symposium, and Blended learning & Technology conference. In collaboration with RISCA Yonty produced the Media Teachers’ Lab. Under his supervision, faculty and graduate students at the Harrington School of Communication and Media produced the International Association of Intercultural Communication Studies Annual Conference.

Curriculum Development. Being a leading media literacy teacher and as an advisor to the national curriculum committee in Israel, Yonty developed many curricula for high school students in communication studies and film/media studies. At the Harrington School of Communication and Media, he developed curriculum for Film/Media 101 course, Nonviolence in the Media, and special topics in Media Production FLM 351. In the last two years, he has been developing a videography and social networks course for special populations such as foster youth, and youth-at-risk. In collaboration with VSA Art RI, and Adoption RI, Yonty Friesem and Kelsey Greene developed a media literacy curriculum for foster youth and their parents. Currently, he is working on developing a K-12 Media Literacy curriculum for the Central Falls School District afterschool program. Since 2014, Yonty has been working with the literacy and math coach in Narragansett Elementary School to develop digital and media literacy curriculum for preK-4th grade aliened with the Common Core State Standards. 

Filmmaking and Media Production. During his film studies, Yonty worked as a local news reporter and was an executive producer in the Israeli Educational TV Network for two years. He directed five short films, and produced six. After winning the best short film award for his co-production of Mur’alim, he joined the feature production ‘Yeladim Tovim" as a co-producer. The award winning film was chosen by the New York MoMA to be featured in a retrospective of queer films from the last fifteen years. Between 2006 and 2008, Yonty produced the National Dimona Festival for Youth Media Production, which featured 400 Israeli high schools short film contest and offered a three-day workshop for 3,000 students. Since 2013, Yonty has been producing and directing short videos for the Media Education Lab and the Harrington School of Communication and Media. 

Yonty Friesem received his PhD from the joint doctoral program in education at the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College. M.A. Magna Cum Laude in Management and Leadership in Education, Tel-Aviv University. B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Social Science and Humanities at The Open University of Israel, and a professional diploma as a Video and Film Producer from Camera Obscura School of Art. 

Click here to access his current CV