One of the many benefits of students learning to mojo is that it provides skills that enhance existing literacy levels. The teamwork required to mojo (to plan and negotiate story recording, undertake interviews) empowers mojos to be more self-confident. The technical skills required to mojo (record, edit and publish) provide students with capabilities that unlock the potential of smart devices. These are positive skills that can work to increase the self-esteem of students, to make them more receptive at school and more engaged with their communities. For these and numerous associated cross-curricular reasons schools are embracing the mojo concept of digital story telling.
But what are the options for mojos to share work between schools, are their impediments and how is it possible for mojo’s work to be published by local media?
A mojo is a mobile journalist who is able to record, edit and publish complete user generated stories (UGS) from a smart device. Given this and the editorial involved in deciding on the story, the interviewees, the locations, the recording of video and audio and the edit process, student mojos can be described as citizen journalists. On the other hand, people creating user generated content (UGC), often because they are in the right place at the right time, are defined as citizen witnesses. Hence, I contend that because of the level of editorial involved in creating mojo UGSs, these more complete works, should be valued differently to raw UGC.
Companies like CNN and other media are capitalizing on the exponentially rising levels of UGC (39 million hours in 2011 is enough content to fill the slate of more than 4000 channels 24/7 for a year). CNNs iReport invites content creators “to be a part of CNN’s coverage of the stories you care about and an opportunity to be part of a global community of men and women who are as passionate about the news as you are.” iReport also offers tools to assist citizen content creators. While this sounds altruistic, the reality is different. iReport requires the iReporter to provide CNN with a “perpetual, worldwide license to edit, telecast, rerun, reproduce, use, create derivative works from, syndicate, license, print, sublicense, distribute and otherwise exhibit the materials you submit, or any portion thereof in any manner and in any medium or forum, whether now known or hereafter devised, without payment to you or any third party.” Of course CNN agrees that if it on sells material to external agencies, it will pay content creators “a percentage of the license fees it actually receives.” If you don’t agree to these terms iReport will not allow you to publish.
It’s not difficult to understand why CNN might want to use this citizen-generated footage internally beyond the iReport platform: it’s often unique, it’s ubiquitous and it’s free. The creator might also see positives in providing iReport with content, such as: getting the message out, being recognised as an iReporter and learning new skills. These benefits may, for most, be all the payment they want. However, given that the cost of creating content in soe of the remote areas iReporters file from, you have to ask: Should CNN be paying these content creators, especially if the content is used internally on CNN beyond its iReport platform.
Given the common digital language resulting from common tools and storytelling skill sets used by mojos and journalists working in MSM, community and the education sphere, there is a potential for an empowering relationship between these fields of communications. In particular between MSM and the education sphere, which has begun to embrace the potential of mojo across the curriculum as a literacy tool that also builds independent civic-minded students.
Based on projects I am currently working on within the education sector, there are two possible scenarios that are relevant to this discussion. Mojo training in Western Australia was delivered to a group of primary and secondary schools, who are proposing to establish a hyper local network, in order to share students’ and teachers’ stories and information online. The training was provided on two levels:
• train the trainer – a level designed to make me redundant, leaving teachers within each school to continue the training program, and
• train the student – provides a core group of interested students who are trained to mojo and to support teachers and motivate the student body.
My role is diminished over time to one of consultation only if and when required.
In time an opportunity may arise for this hyper local network to further develop students’ mojo skills by forming a relationship with local media. At this stage and given students are producing complete UGS, there will need to be an arrangement between the school and local media about the appropriation and publication of these examples of student UGS. Any relationship will depend on a number of factors. Given mojos are at school and their stories are produced as part of a school sanctioned project, any prospective use beyond school use would need to be sanctioned by the school. The school is obliged to inform family about projects that sit within its loco-parentis mandate and seek parental permissions for involvement. Whether the use of student content becomes a commercial venture (students or school is paid for certain stories), or continues in the non-commercial realm (the school and student see an ongoing training benefit in the relationship with local media), is another key consideration. These are interesting deliberations especially given that mojo’s are trained to think for themselves, make their own decisions and to produce content anytime and from anywhere. What control will or should the school have over student mojos content creation and distribution (commercial or non commercial) outside of school project time? After all, mojo is not asking students to restrict their already prolific content stream, but to make that content more committed and professional.
The second example is a current project I am involved with in Queensland, Australia, with the Department of Education and Employment (DETE), which introduces mojo to a regional community and includes training a number of lecturers to become mojo trainers. This project, which already has interest from local media, poses a couple of issues that need to be resolved. Initially, the project managers will need to determine the cost value of providing local media with stories free of charge during and immediately after the project. This exchange is designed to (a) ensure that local media continue to support the project by helping make community aware of the positive benefits of having locally trained mojos and trainers; (b) spur mojos to work harder; who on seeing their work represented in local media, will more readily see the benefits of mojo.
Once the project is completed and the DETE possibly move to train lecturers and mojos in communities surrounding one of their many campuses, the trained mojos will continue to create more UGS. The question then is two fold, who manages their growing professional possibilities and what are the parameters that define their emerging relationship with local media?
One of the real benefits of mojo is that to be successful participants need to engage. This basic tenant of journalism is also a first step to being more civic minded. Engaging with community requires confident and curious citizens who move beyond the hedonic to a more eduaimonic view about mojo possibilities. One of the key mojo skills is to engender confidence to be able to curate your way through life’s kludge moments in order to understand the evolving story. One element of that story is to decide how, when, where, with whom and in some cases for how much, we are willing to share our story.
In our initial mojo project we licensed a number of the mojo’s stories to Indigenous MSM and mojos received payment for these stories. My current view is influenced by these early days of research, when I was learning about what may be possible. My belief is that a common digital language created between the three spheres of communication, and based on shared story telling skill sets and tools, suggests there should be a common measure for valuing output. This posits that mojo content should be valued on an agreed and where possible, common scale, when MSM and others acquire it. Schools will always weigh up the benefits vs costs of being involved with local media and if they decide to be involved, principles and teachers will know best, what type of arrangement to make.