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Mind Over Media: Propaganda Education for a Digital Age

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Media literacy educators have always insisted that we are both creators and receivers of media messages. The truth of this is even more apparent in today’s digital environment, with children and adults alike participating in a ubiquitous, nonstop stream of social media. Clearly, students need the tools to interpret news and information critically—not just for school but fo Media literacy educators have always insisted that we are both creators and receivers of media messages. The truth of this is even more apparent in today’s digital environment, with children and adults alike participating in a ubiquitous, nonstop stream of social media. Clearly, students need the tools to interpret news and information critically—not just for school but for life in a “post-truth” world, where the lines blur between entertainment, information, and persuasion. Renee Hobbs demonstrates how a global perspective on contemporary propaganda enables educators to stimulate both the intellectual curiosity and the cultural sensitivities of students. Replete with classroom and online learning activities and samples of student work, Mind Over Media provides a state-of-the-art look at the theory and practice of propaganda in contemporary society, and shows how to build learners’ critical thinking and communication skills on topics including computational propaganda, content marketing, fake news, and disinformation.  


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Media literacy educators have always insisted that we are both creators and receivers of media messages. The truth of this is even more apparent in today’s digital environment, with children and adults alike participating in a ubiquitous, nonstop stream of social media. Clearly, students need the tools to interpret news and information critically—not just for school but fo Media literacy educators have always insisted that we are both creators and receivers of media messages. The truth of this is even more apparent in today’s digital environment, with children and adults alike participating in a ubiquitous, nonstop stream of social media. Clearly, students need the tools to interpret news and information critically—not just for school but for life in a “post-truth” world, where the lines blur between entertainment, information, and persuasion. Renee Hobbs demonstrates how a global perspective on contemporary propaganda enables educators to stimulate both the intellectual curiosity and the cultural sensitivities of students. Replete with classroom and online learning activities and samples of student work, Mind Over Media provides a state-of-the-art look at the theory and practice of propaganda in contemporary society, and shows how to build learners’ critical thinking and communication skills on topics including computational propaganda, content marketing, fake news, and disinformation.  

30 review for Mind Over Media: Propaganda Education for a Digital Age

  1. 4 out of 5

    Erica

    This is an excellent read for elementary school teachers and librarians. Hobbs and Moore define media literacy, discuss why it is so important to teach it our students, and describe how they have gone about doing this. There is a nice balance between philosophy and practical examples of lessons they have done with students. My only quibble is that I wish the example lessons had listed which grades they had actually tried them with. With the increase of digital tools in our classrooms and the eve This is an excellent read for elementary school teachers and librarians. Hobbs and Moore define media literacy, discuss why it is so important to teach it our students, and describe how they have gone about doing this. There is a nice balance between philosophy and practical examples of lessons they have done with students. My only quibble is that I wish the example lessons had listed which grades they had actually tried them with. With the increase of digital tools in our classrooms and the ever-present influence of the media on our students it is imperative that we teach them how to become thoughtful media consumers, recognize how others use media to deliver messages, and learn how to use digital tools to make their voices heard. Read more of my reviews at http://auldschoollibrarian.blogspot.com/

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Clark

    This is the most inspiring book I've read related to librarianship period. Maybe that is in part due to the fact that it is a book for educators, including librarians. And it is definitely due to my own fear and questions about copyright and fair use in schools and digital media projects. 100 pages long, I read this book in a single sitting. Finally, a clearly written book on an important, timely topic. The book calls for educators and all people to reclaim their rights as users under the doctrin This is the most inspiring book I've read related to librarianship period. Maybe that is in part due to the fact that it is a book for educators, including librarians. And it is definitely due to my own fear and questions about copyright and fair use in schools and digital media projects. 100 pages long, I read this book in a single sitting. Finally, a clearly written book on an important, timely topic. The book calls for educators and all people to reclaim their rights as users under the doctrine of fair use. The book certainly has a point of view, but the argument is certainly compelling. I can't wait to raid the bibliography and look at the online references. One of the best books I've read this year. Seriously.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    Finally. I have it. Thank you, Renee Hobbs.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Fraser

    Any teacher looking for a prescriptive guide to media literacy education is bound to be a little disappointed. The book reads more as an extensive case study of one school in America. That said, it is enlightening and does make an excellent case for media literacy being essential in today’s society.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Angie Beumer-Johnson

    Respect. This virtue permeates Renee Hobbs’ Digital and Media Literacy: Connecting Culture and Classroom. The book honors students, teachers, and the role of media literacy in the classroom. Digital and Media Literacy: Connecting Culture and Classroom focuses teachers on the big picture: “critical thinking, collaboration, communication skills” (vii). How often do employers bemoan a workforce lacking in these very skills? Lifelong relevance abounds with the inclusion of media, culture, and curren Respect. This virtue permeates Renee Hobbs’ Digital and Media Literacy: Connecting Culture and Classroom. The book honors students, teachers, and the role of media literacy in the classroom. Digital and Media Literacy: Connecting Culture and Classroom focuses teachers on the big picture: “critical thinking, collaboration, communication skills” (vii). How often do employers bemoan a workforce lacking in these very skills? Lifelong relevance abounds with the inclusion of media, culture, and current issues. It is the merging of subject matter that students care about with the objectives to be taught (which students often do not care about) that makes Digital and Media Literacy so powerful. It acknowledges and respects that teenagers, perhaps despite initial appearances, do indeed care about their own problems, others’ problems, and the world’s problems. Teaching must respect where they are now—immersed in media that matters to them. Individual chapters are organized particularly well for busy teachers, opening with bullet point overviews of key aspects of the chapters, including the topics of lesson plans appearing at the end of the chapter. Hobbs encourages not only analysis of media, but also production of media with reflection and action. Section headings state priorities of media literacy education: critical thinking, expression, social responsibility and action. Hobbs’ book is perfect antidote to stale, depersonalized, sterile material and pedagogy, which teachers may feel forced into with high-stakes teacher assessment directly linked to student standardized tests. Digital and Media Literacy: Connecting Culture and Classroom is a tremendous resource for all teachers—preservice, novice, and veteran. Hobbs knows media literacy, she knows teaching, and perhaps most importantly, she knows kids.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kendall

    A wonderful explanation of copyright law in plain language. The law is confusing and everyone has her own take on how it works; this book provides a succinct explanation of the finer points of fair use and how it applies to schools. The author explains that many educators have become afraid to do multimedia projects or allow their students to use pictures because of the fear of violating copyright law. I vehemently agree--and think that the restrictions have inhibited creativity in schools. I ho A wonderful explanation of copyright law in plain language. The law is confusing and everyone has her own take on how it works; this book provides a succinct explanation of the finer points of fair use and how it applies to schools. The author explains that many educators have become afraid to do multimedia projects or allow their students to use pictures because of the fear of violating copyright law. I vehemently agree--and think that the restrictions have inhibited creativity in schools. I hope that the book continues to inspire me to the the point where I feel comfortable allowing to use my own common sense and judgment to use copyrighted images and video clips in an appropriate educational setting.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne

    I would recommend this book to any educator who is unsure about what can be used and posted from the internet for educational purposes. I found this to be a fairly easy to read resource for any educators who are concerned about using copyrighted material in their lessons or who want students to collaborate digitally with the possibility of using copyrighted materials. It clearly shows how the transformativeness of the product can support fair-use law. I was surprised that many of the copyright " I would recommend this book to any educator who is unsure about what can be used and posted from the internet for educational purposes. I found this to be a fairly easy to read resource for any educators who are concerned about using copyrighted material in their lessons or who want students to collaborate digitally with the possibility of using copyrighted materials. It clearly shows how the transformativeness of the product can support fair-use law. I was surprised that many of the copyright "rules" I had heard of in terms of how many copies, or how much of a work could be copied, are industry requested guidelines, but they are not law.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    Hobbs highlights the importance of using critical thinking skills in determining fair use and warns of the dangers of abiding by copyright guidelines that are not part of the law and are often biased. While you will find no easy to use checklists here, this is an important resource that will ensure future educators know and practice their rights.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    This book is a nice case study of an English department that adopted a media literacy approach to its 11th grade curriculum. Shows readers/teachers how these strategies can be integrated into their own teaching, and that the process is not always easy.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Katherine Fischer

    This is a great resource for anyone looking for a thorough introduction to copyright as it pertains to education. The author takes a bold, inspiring stance on what Fair Use should be, and how librarians and teachers can reclaim copyrighted materials without infringing on rightsholders' rights. This is a great resource for anyone looking for a thorough introduction to copyright as it pertains to education. The author takes a bold, inspiring stance on what Fair Use should be, and how librarians and teachers can reclaim copyrighted materials without infringing on rightsholders' rights.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Petra schatz

    I read this for work but it certainly had some great ideas about ways we might reorganize high school English to engage students and help them become more media savy.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Really great examples of the power of fully integrating media in English.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nadia Jaramillo

    Practical guide into the topic of copyright issues. It gives examples and cases to understand the differences among trnasformativeness, copyright, public domain.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

    Read this for a Media Literacy Institute. A fantastic resource that opened my eyes to things I really need to incorporate into my teaching!!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Pamela Hill

    Best resource on copyright in the digital age!

  16. 5 out of 5

    David Stephens

    I’ve seen a number of studies that show most students are terrible at deciphering media in terms of its credibility, biases, and other propagandistic qualities. And as much as I would love to believe one approach, or one book even, would be enough to set them all straight, Renee Hobbs’ Mind Over Media reminds me that just isn’t possible. Hobbs explores many of the ins and outs of how propaganda functions, especially in its newer forms and guises like viral videos, memes, and deep fakes. She discu I’ve seen a number of studies that show most students are terrible at deciphering media in terms of its credibility, biases, and other propagandistic qualities. And as much as I would love to believe one approach, or one book even, would be enough to set them all straight, Renee Hobbs’ Mind Over Media reminds me that just isn’t possible. Hobbs explores many of the ins and outs of how propaganda functions, especially in its newer forms and guises like viral videos, memes, and deep fakes. She discusses how it plays off of people’s deepest fears and beliefs. She also gives a serviceable enough history of propaganda going back to Edward Bernays and Joseph Goebbels. But as she一and many prior political and communication theorists一elucidates, there is no one clear definition of propaganda. This really shouldn’t come as a revelation to anyone, but it does help explain how and why a discussion of propaganda gets so messy so quickly. Propaganda is often in the eye of the beholder and, therefore, usually boils down to all the messages that people of one political ideology don’t like. And while Hobbs does address this in regard to how it might impact local communities (that is, how parents would react to something they like being labeled propaganda), I never felt like she offered many practical solutions. Overall, Hobbs splits her time between an analysis of the function of propaganda and how teachers can approach the topic. And some of the projects she details for teachers are quite helpful like Hugh Rank’s intensify/downplay formula as well as the many tasks that ask students to create a piece of propaganda themselves. This requires them to understand the common techniques before applying them on their own. But other lesson plans she offers are pretty vague and unhelpful. For instance, when she briefly mentions the novel 1984, her plans include little more than asking, “What is power, and how is it gained and used?” and “Can individuals change society? Can changing language change people’s thoughts?” I understand these questions could be altered or enhanced by the teacher, but this is so basic, it hardly serves as a foundation. This also gets to the heart of the problem I have with this book: it has too many target audiences, the layman and the educator. While there is good information to be learned, at some point, many of the lesson plans felt thrown in and sometimes didn’t even match the topic at hand. So since this book was never going to be able to address everything under the umbrella of propaganda, I wish it would have narrowed its scope down even further.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Julie Suzanne

    Hobbs disputes everything that a librarian and educator have learned about copyright and fair use in the last decade. She presents a strong argument in favor of a much broader interpretation of fair use than I'm actually comfortable with, which is empowering to teachers and students. She explains how to teach the concept to students so that they, too, are empowered users of copyrighted materials. I think it may take more than this book to untrain me, however. I'm purchasing this book so that I c Hobbs disputes everything that a librarian and educator have learned about copyright and fair use in the last decade. She presents a strong argument in favor of a much broader interpretation of fair use than I'm actually comfortable with, which is empowering to teachers and students. She explains how to teach the concept to students so that they, too, are empowered users of copyrighted materials. I think it may take more than this book to untrain me, however. I'm purchasing this book so that I can read it again and use it as a reference so that I can gradually accept her point of view, which is unfortunately not prevalent enough to reclaim the right of fair use as it was intended--money and culture can affect judges, too. Overall, I recommend this to all educators. It's a much quicker read than you'd think based on how long I lingered over it, but it took a lot out of me every time I read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    I don’t normally write reviews, but I have to for this book. Hobbs manages to make an extremely confusing and nuanced legal issue understandable for a normal person, leaving them feeling confident and inspired about using copyrighted materials in the classroom. I’m doing a research project on the subject and can say that all the university professors I’ve talked to feel uncomfortable in their knowledge of what they can and can’t do with copyrighted materials. I’ll be recommending this to every o I don’t normally write reviews, but I have to for this book. Hobbs manages to make an extremely confusing and nuanced legal issue understandable for a normal person, leaving them feeling confident and inspired about using copyrighted materials in the classroom. I’m doing a research project on the subject and can say that all the university professors I’ve talked to feel uncomfortable in their knowledge of what they can and can’t do with copyrighted materials. I’ll be recommending this to every one of them.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alida Hanson

    Explains simply and clearly how the purpose of copyright is to spread the culture, and not protect for financial interest. We learn about fair use, and a couple of landmark court cases, and get resources to teach our faculty and students about fair use. It’s a shame that in the 24/7 media stew in which we live, that we fundamentally believe we have no right to remix and analyze media to express ourselves and learning.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    The other reviews here are not for this book: Mind Over Media, but seem to be about a copyright law book by the same author. I found Hobbs' attempt to redefine propaganda as something positive when used "for the good" short-sighted. Who gets to decide what is "for the good" and for whom? Some aspects of this book could lead students to identify and analyze propaganda, but with a stated goal of teaching students to use propaganda to become activists, I draw the line. The other reviews here are not for this book: Mind Over Media, but seem to be about a copyright law book by the same author. I found Hobbs' attempt to redefine propaganda as something positive when used "for the good" short-sighted. Who gets to decide what is "for the good" and for whom? Some aspects of this book could lead students to identify and analyze propaganda, but with a stated goal of teaching students to use propaganda to become activists, I draw the line.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Neil Krasnoff

    This outstanding book is written as a practical guide for educators, but its value goes far beyond the individual classroom. Mind Over Media is a book full of hope and wisdom for these dark times. I found the international perspective enlightening, especially the case study of the Ukraine which is more on the front lines of the Russian information war than the United States. This book should be widely read!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Fifi

    ‘The educator can help students see their own culpability in the dissemination of propaganda, learning to recognize “the enormous mischief and casual cruelty of our prejudices.”‘ #DeZinVanHetBoek #ThePointOfTheBook

  23. 4 out of 5

    Catie Carlson

    Informative, easy read

  24. 4 out of 5

    Keri

    Wow. Propaganda disguised as a book teaching about propaganda. Clever.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Insightful and inspiring Admittedly, this is going to be most useful for librarians and archivists working specifically on media literacy and media production programming. Even if you aren't in that demographic, there's a lot of information that could be helpful for both people who want to see something New from their library or people looking to advance through creating and implementing new programming. Insightful and inspiring Admittedly, this is going to be most useful for librarians and archivists working specifically on media literacy and media production programming. Even if you aren't in that demographic, there's a lot of information that could be helpful for both people who want to see something New from their library or people looking to advance through creating and implementing new programming.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Bhattacharyya

    Gives pause for thought on our concerns about copyright. We certainly want teachers and students to observe copyright guidelines and law, but the laws and guidelines have to be understood by both. I think Hobbs encouragement to follow copyright, but not to confuse guidelines versus law is well taken. Copyright is very important, but failing to design and use a creative lesson because of misplaced copyright fears should be a regular inservice in every schools' annual inservice. But, this requires Gives pause for thought on our concerns about copyright. We certainly want teachers and students to observe copyright guidelines and law, but the laws and guidelines have to be understood by both. I think Hobbs encouragement to follow copyright, but not to confuse guidelines versus law is well taken. Copyright is very important, but failing to design and use a creative lesson because of misplaced copyright fears should be a regular inservice in every schools' annual inservice. But, this requires that all administrators and educators have more than a passing knowledge of copyright.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Savannah

    Fascinating book. The kindle edition had a few grammatical errors (misplacement of words), but only occasionally. This book is great in the fact it includes little actionable work that can be done to apply the knowledge learned at the end of each chapter. This book is relevant whether you are a teacher interested in literacy or just a human curious about how this new technology world is changing the way we communicate.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Zuchra Pipin

    recommended for all teachers.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Trish Bodine

    Very good book for connecting theory with pedagogy. Useful lessons presented in each chapter, as well as digital resources for use in the classroom.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    Loved this book! This collaboration is remarkable... integrating personal narratives, media, philosophy, and theory.

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