Blog #5: HitRecord
By James Ziolkowski
HitRecord is an online community created by Joseph Gordon Levitt where people gather to share their creations that include writing, music, video, and art in an effort to collaborate and create full scale productions that end up on Hitrecord TV. While the overall goals of Hitrecord are aimed at creating productions for television, they are not the only reason people use the site. Hitrecord.org is a space for creativity and networking before it is anything else, and therefore presents an incredible opportunity for classroom utilization.
The site is a lot like Facebook but with media instead of textual status updates. Users are invited to share their creations, issue challenges, and remix or contribute to the creations of other users around the world. The whole purpose of this site is to connect with others who share a particular artistic affinity, and collaborate to produce and create. It is the essence of what Henry Jenkins calls participatory culture. According to Jenkins, participatory culture is “a culture with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creating and sharing creations, and some type of informal mentorship whereby experienced participants pass along knowledge to novices. In a participatory culture, members also believe their contributions matter and feel some degree of social connection with one another (at the least, members care about others’ opinions of what they have created)”. As educators, we have an opportunity to exploit HitRecord as a platform for the exploration of multi-modal literacies in the classroom that are mostly native due to youthful involvement in emerging participatory culture.
The use of HitRecord as a teaching heuristic would also hinge on the idea that our classical, and thus limited, views of literacy should be expanded to include those new varieties arising from technological advances. The New London Group has spoken about this in a journal article titled, A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures. They state, “We want to extend the idea and scope of literacy pedagogy to account for the context of our culturally and linguistically diverse and increasingly globalized societies, for the multifarious cultures that interrelate and the plurality of texts that circulate. Second, we argue that literacy pedagogy now must account for the burgeoning variety of text forms associated with information and multimedia technologies”. As we continue to progress as a society, it would make sense to account for and include emerging forms of literacy, especially because so much of a child’s communication in the future will be through the use of those new and emerging literacies.
HitRecord has a relatively simple learning curve. The user interface isn’t much different from other social networking sites, and one who uses Facebook would be able to figure everything out pretty quickly. As a novice, the site can seem overwhelming at first because you are bombarded with images and video on your dashboard (which is essentially a newsfeed). After a few clicks of navigating around the site, everything becomes much more clear and settled. As I explored the site, I realized just how many people are interacting with one another, or remixing content from other users. One of my own videos was even remixed between the time that I started interacting with HitRecord and when I presented my findings in the classroom. Users have used HitRecord to issue their own unique writing prompts and challenge prompts completely independent of those issued by the sites creator, Joseph Gordon Levitt. That particular discovery really opened my eyes to this site as a pedagogical tool as opposed to its other intentions and capabilities.
Finally, my interaction with HitRecord has been a very positive experience. I uploaded two songs quite a while ago, and two videos recently for the purposes of my exploration and exposé. One of my videos was even remixed by two different users as a response to one of the main challenges put forth by Joseph Gordon Levitt. I have responded to other users posts, and even put forth my own challenge for our multi-modal English course. Here is a direct link to my profile.
Ultimately, HitRecord has great potential as a pedagogical tool. However, it is imperative to note that anything uploaded to the site is fair game for other users, and may be downloaded and used in any way they see fit. Once you upload anything to HitRecord, it cannot be taken down. Posts may be hidden from other users, but all posts remain partly HitRecord property. For use in the classroom, an extensive informative handout/consent form should be sent home. Parents and students need to understand that this tool offers a wide variety of classroom opportunities, but that it also has stipulations regarding intellectual property.