Literacy Gangnam Style

I’ve been discussing memes such as Gangnam Style in my recent presentations. I’m particularly interested in memes as an emerging information literacy and their study is important for comprehending the way in which information flows through systems. Dae Ryun Chang wrote that one of reasons why Gangnam Style has taken off is that “the song intentionally lacked a copyright so that people would be encouraged to create their own online parodies, in essence their own ‘XYZ Style'”. It’s not quite factual (as argued elsewhere) that the song ‘lacked’ a copyright, but it is certainly clear that Psy has encouraged the remix and reuse of the song which has led to some incredible statistics (such as being the first video to reach 1 billion views). And, besides the ability to reuse/remix, the song is just downright catchy.

There have been hundreds of great remixes. Bill Nye Science Style, Minecraft Style, Baby Gangnam, and the Gangnam Halloween Lightshow rank among my favorites. But when I see schools participate, THAT’S where I think this gets so very relevant and exciting. Students and teachers at Okanagan Missionary Secondary (Kelowna, BC) recently put together this lip-sync version of the song. The video has achieved around 33,000 hits, and created a great buzz at the school.

The video was shot over a two week period at various locations around the school. Once all the post production work was completed, the school held a ‘spirit assembly’ last Thursday and the reception was astounding. Not only was the crowd entertained, laughing and cheering to the on screen antics, but for the rest of the day students could be heard excitedly talking about it or mimicking dance moves.

Creating such joyful events at school are vitally important for an overall healthy learning environment. Combine this with complex, project-based work that seamlessly integrates new literacies through media development and your institution has just made great strides toward the development and modelling of a positive digital footprint (for the institution and for the individuals involved). And these sorts of activities can go a long way to ease some of unwarranted fears regarding social media felt amongst parents, teachers, administrators and students.

And the Grade 11 French immersion students at Holy Trinity Catholic High School (from the Ottawa Catholic School Board) have taken the Gangnam craze even further by creating a French version of the song. Even if you are not a French speaker, you will quickly notice the creative effort that has gone into this parody. That, and the students look like they are having so much fun!

These last two examples demonstrate the successful intersection of emerging media and school learning. It can also be seen as an example of what Thomas and Brown describe as “The New Culture of Learning“.

The new culture of learning actually comprises two elements. The first is a massive information network that provides almost unlimited access and resources to learn about anything. The second is a bounded and structured environment that allows for unlimited agency to build and experiment with things within those boundaries.

So how is your educational institution embracing this new culture of learning? Or, how are you as a teacher, administrator, or learner creating opportunities to critically discuss and/or participate in these new media environments? I’d love to hear from you.

But for now, enjoy Holy Trinity Style:

5 thoughts on “Literacy Gangnam Style

  1. Heard George’s great talk in Adelaide recently about using and adapting music videos and wondered how people got around the copyright laws. Our new Social Media policy (DECD in SA) explicitly talks about adhering to property rights. Can you explain what is possible and isn’t?

    • Hi Daniela,
      Copyright law is different in every country – in the US, there are fair use provisions, and in most Commonwealth countries, we have fair dealing. As you are based in Australia, your rights under Australia’s copyright Act are described by the Australian Copyright Council. To get a better sense of what you and your students can do, take a look at this page and click on “Fair Dealing: What Can I Do Without Permission”. You should find that the remixes described in this post would be covered in Australia under the exemptions covering research & study and/or satire.

      If you want to learn more, I’d recommend watching the video “RIP: A Remixer’s Manifesto” . While this documentary deals mostly with US Fair Use, many of the same issues apply across fair use/dealing treatments of copyright law in various jurisdictions.

      If you have any other questions, please let me know. I hope that this was helpful.

  2. The OKM Gangnam Style video was our new Social Media class’ first project and was created with much joy and love. I am so happy to hear you as an adult, take note of the joy embedded in the video, as it is what I notice every time I watch it. The project also reminded me how teens will rise to an occasion given a challenge that resonates with them as authentic. So many positive things came out of the making the video, I could on and on :)
    We (@OKMmedia) are back to the drawing board, cooking up our next project, to grow a connected and caring school community leveraging social media. In the aftermath, I am personally struggling with how this project starkly contrasts other situations I work with teens where I don’t see their joy and I don’t see them dreaming big for themselves. I need to figure out how and if I can re-create these conditions in the classroom to some degree.
    Enjoyed reading your perspective on the project!
    Carolyn Durley

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