(Before we get started, I know I misspelled satellite on the white board this morning. Get over it…)
This morning in my Global Media Literacy class I asked my students a fairly simple question: What is television?
The answers that came back were revealing, to say the least — a fascinating collection of both the retro and the ultra-modern.
As you can see by the white board photo, the very first word that came to mind was “Box.” And by box, my student meant the big, old-style analog TV with a big ol’ picture tube. Literally, a giant box. But I think that’s informative – Television is seen as a device for consuming video from wherever it comes from.
After that came a couple of more use-based terms – Entertainment and Reruns.
But then came the one that really grabbed my attention:
“Moving pictures that you stream.”
And following that came the local cable company and satellite providers.
I don’t know that the student who said “stream” was really talking about Internet streaming; more likely, I think she was just talking about content that streamed in an unending flow to the television box.
Broadcasting didn’t get mentioned until one young lady Googled “television” and came up with the term broadcasting.
This launched us into a discussion of the history of television, moving from analog to digital, black & white to color, and the rise of alternatives to broadcast television. But what it came down to was that these young people saw radio as something that comes in over the airwaves.
This highlights what I think is a really important issue to think about – the young people in my class don’t distinguish between broadcast and cable/satellite channels. We have all sorts of legal distinctions between broadcast and cable/satellite, and even online streaming services. But to this group of young people, they’re all just television.
And that’s something we need understand going forward.