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Athabasca University

CMNS 420: Children and Media

Are you interested in taking a course about how children negotiate their way through today’s media? Are you interested in how children learn about and learn to produce stories? If the answer is YES, then consider registering for CMNS 420.

Children and Media focuses on how children, from pre-school to thirteen, encounter and employ the media and genres of story-telling: from oral narrative and print, to the audio and visual mediation of narrative in picture books, radio and other audioforms, and screen technologies such as television, film, and video games. In order to do this, the course employs contemporary theory and methodology to examine narrative as well as the competencies, or "literacies," that children develop in order to understand it and produce their own.

The first unit in Communication Studies 420 introduces you to classic theories and methodologies developed in the Western world for the study of narrative. This framework should ground you in the concepts and terminology used in the Commentaries of the course as well as in its various readings and videos. This basic knowledge of narrative theory should also provide you with tools to use in analyzing and assessing narrative produced for and by children.

Unit 2 introduces you to theories of literacy, so that you can better understand the competencies required to understand and produce narrative.

Seven of the units deal with various formats of narrative as they appear in an oral context, as print, as audio, material culture, or in a variety of visual formats. In these units, we concentrate on the kinds of competencies or "literacies" that children need to develop in order to comprehend and produce narrative.

One unit is devoted to the social construction of childhood as a backdrop to questions raised across the course about the changing definitions of childhood, the commodification of childhood, and about some of the dangers posed by popular culture and new technologies. But this is not a course about what media do to children; it is about what children do with media, what competencies they need and how they acquire those competencies.

A final unit is devoted to musings about the larger issues introduced by the course and how they assisted us in shaping objectives and the course itself.

Updated September 30 2015 by Student & Academic Services

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