I cannot believe that it has been 13 years since I sent my first email to Dr. Renee Hobbs from Temple University with an inquiry to discuss doctoral mentorship. My message was written in broken English, in green font, and had a smiley for a signatureSoon thereafter I received Renee’s typical concise response: “Let’s Skype.” The rest is history. One month later, I arrived in Philadelphia and witnessed how the projectPowerful Voices for Kids was making an impact on the Russell Byers Charter School students and staff as well as on the Temple graduate and undergraduate students who were the instructors. The synergy I experienced during my month-long visit as an international scholar had made me realize – I want to be part of this! But what was this? I didn’t know how to define it, yet I certainly knew I found my home.
I have been working with Renee at the Media Education Lab for 13 years. In Jewish culture, 12 years for girls and 13 years for boys is the age of transferring from childhood to adulthood marked by a ceremony known as Bat/Bar-Mitzvah. Since 2010, I worked my way up from a visiting scholar in the Media Education Lab to its manager and then associate director. In January 2023, I was thrilled to become the co-director of the Lab joining Renee in her incredible leadership. Additionally, this year marks the 20th anniversary of the Lab. It was founded by Renee at Temple University in 2003 and then moved to the University of Rhode Island in 2012. Since 2018 (when I started working at Columbia College Chicago), and especially during the pandemic, the Lab has been an online collaborative community. And now it is time for us as the Media Education Lab to move into our next phase. I am using this blog post to introduce conversations I am having with various members of the Media Education Lab as we continue to reimagine our place and impact within the field of media education and beyond.
We are now embarking on a three-year journey to fulfill its new mission: The Media Education Lab is an online community that advances the field of digital and media literacy education through leadership development, scholarship, and community engagement. Our new logo reflects the sense of elevation, diversity, inclusion, and connection.
For over a year before this launch, we have been working to redesign our website in order to reflect the multifaceted identity of the Media Education Lab, its resources, and opportunities to connect and evolve that it offers to media educators and scholars. With this ambitious mission in mind, we invite our members and anybody interested to join the following initiatives and brainstorming to re-imagine the Media Education Lab:
Leadership Development and Community Building are the core of the Lab. We are restructuring the organization to reflect the various ways that our members can be involved and recognized. Over the next three years, we want to focus on innovative ways to grow the media education community and provide effective leadership development for those who want to advance the field. In order to do so, we are going to prioritize the following four practices:
A. Dialogue – Series of online discussions on the future of media education
- Free webinars series: on relevant topics (AI, inequalities, trauma & healing)
- MediaEd Club: Monthly community discussion about inspiring media texts
- CourageoUS/MediaEd Dialogues: ML community-building for violence prevention
B. Mentoring – Supporting the next generation of leaders in the field of media literacy education
- MediaEd Institute: Our new online program for leadership development
- MediaEd Forum: Two-day online conference for practitioners
- Graduate Symposium: New initiative to support graduate students and emerging scholars
C. Research – Exploring best practices and sharing empirical data to support media education
- MediaEd Research Jam: Research collaboration based on intercultural dialogue
- MediaEd Index: Global initiative to map and assess media literacy
- Youth Media Reporter: Writing and publishing opportunities on youth & media
D. Advocacy – Communicating what media education is and how to promote it
- MediaEd Blog: Producing newsletters and blogs to advocate for media education
- MediaEd Podcast: Sharing initiatives to introduce media education to the public
- MediaEd Impact: Developing a roadmap for local community organizers
As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Media Education Lab, we reflect on the amazing achievements of the Lab and its members. With acknowledgment of the vast impact we have had on the emerging leaders in the field, the research, practice, and advocacy, we are excited to evolve and take our work to the next level. Ensuring that we keep being equitable, diverse, and inclusive, we invite you to reach out and choose from the plethora of initiatives and activities that would benefit you and help you to keep developing as a leader in the field. I personally ask you to reach out to me and discuss your involvement.
Please join us in this exciting journey for the next three years of re-imagining the Media Education Lab!