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Media Representation of the Middle East: Constructive Student Engagement in an Online Environment


Learning, Media and Technology Volume 37, Number 3, ISSN 1743-9884


As educators interested in pedagogical uses of technology, we utilize the internet to improve students' knowledge and awareness of the world beyond our own national borders. Web-based technologies offer us resources for our courses and can play an important role in promoting a more active style of learning from our students. Yet when teaching about politically sensitive topics, or regions of the world that are less well known, we inevitably access information that is unfiltered, out-of-context, inaccurate, or biased. This paper will be an exploration of how we taught students to critically engage with each other and with online media sources through a class blog discussing the violence in Gaza during January of 2009. During the two-week project, the students investigated this new media landscape (from blogs to “YouTube”) increasing their levels of techno-literacy by searching beyond their “normal” sources and by recognizing the political bias present in all online venues. Evidence will show how the students went from passive consumers of networked information to active citizen participants as they expressed their opinions, countered each other's sources, and worked out how to fundamentally disagree without losing civility. The paper will detail the pedagogical practices and challenges to creating online spaces for constructive argumentation about highly volatile issues.


Somdahl-Sands, K. & Belbas, B. (2012). Media Representation of the Middle East: Constructive Student Engagement in an Online Environment. Learning, Media and Technology, 37(3), 289-302. Retrieved April 24, 2019 from .

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