Learn more about the course. In the first half of the semester, we explored the topic of media violence by looking at the media effects literature and the arguments about the value of violent stories for children. Students developed collaborative skills by adapting ideas from Gerard Jones' book, Killing Monsters, into the form of a dramatic narrative and posting their scripts to the wiki.

In the second half of the semester, students develop knowledge and skills through hands-on activities involving analyzing iCarly, a popular children's television show and website produced for Nickelodeon. What makes the show entertaining? After viewing an episode entitled, "iRocked the Vote," we acknowledged these elements:

  • the program's episodic structureScreen_shot_2011-02-28_at_3.04.28_PM.png
  • the use of familiar celebrities (like David Archuleta)
  • wacky visual gags (like troll hair)
  • silly characters (like the British mom)
  • the show's fast pacing
  • the use of many different forms of technology
  • the complicated relationships between the characters
  • the feeling of idealized realism (common to sitcoms)
  • the depiction of young people as competent performers and media makers
  • the sexual tension between girls and boys
  • the use of the screen to show the audience's point of view
  • the media-infused transitions
  • the presentation of adults as goofy and ineffective
  • the universality of lying as a meaningful source of conflict in relationships.

The research process was scaffolded through a five-part process as students developed a research proposal, developed a precis from the book, Kids Rule, by Sharon Banet-Weiser, and developed their knowledge through library and online research, viewing and taking notes on particular episodes from the first two seasons, and interviewing children and adults.